Posted by: jkennedy366 | 4 November 2013

November 2, dark broad-wings, storks, pelicans and more

Saturday was the ideal day to be at smith point with all the birds just overhead or next to the tower so that they could be seen. A day that makes Smith Point the envy of other hawk watches. They have to look at things way up there in the middle of the air or with a 80 scope zoomed way out. Of course there are days like that at the point but then a day like yesterday makes up for lots of them. And the forecast for Thursday is for another great day. And maybe even one day of the weekend but since it rained hard on Saturday night out of a clear starry sky one has to take forecasts more than 10 minutes ago with a grain of salt.

 

As usual, the bird of the day was broad-winged hawk and more specifically dark broad-wings. Several were around and gave the best looks ever to many at the tower and the first ever for most of the rest. Apparently there is a never ending stream of them this year instead of 1 or even 3 birds for a season as in the past.

Click on any of the pictures for a large version. Hawks are writ large.

 

dark broad-winged hawk

dark broad-winged hawk

Lots of cameras clicking as birds came right overhead, went by and then came back to check the tower again.

dark broad-winged hawk

dark broad-winged hawk

dark broad-winged hawk

dark broad-winged hawk

The great light made for some great views

dark broad-winged hawk

dark broad-winged hawk

And there were plain old broad-wings too

broad-wing overhead

broad-wing overhead

Swainson’s hawks were up there too with a few more in the afternoon. I had thought that the wind would have brought in quite a few more but there had been a very heavy flight further west in the state earlier in the season.

swainson's hawk overhead

swainson’s hawk overhead

On days when birds pass back and forth, we get asked how do we keep from double counting them. There are times when that is hard to do but there are birds with missing feathers, injuries, odd colors etc that help. A flock of 25 broad-wings with a bird with white in the wing is conspicuous and when another flock of 25 with a bird with the same colors comes by from the other direction, you do not count. Or there are now 30 birds so you count 5 more. You may count a vulture flock 10 times or so as each time it passes it has added birds. And other hawks look for kettling vultures as they are good at finding thermals. This swainson’s hawk passed both early in the day and very late in the day.

Wing marked swainson's hawk

Wing marked swainson’s hawk

Often late season hawks have some injury etc that made them late or even unable to cross the bay like a Mississippi kite in November that should not have been flying. The same can affect waterbirds like a wood stork with a broken dangling leg several falls ago.

But then the day got better with the first big sandhill crane migration. Cranes were out front

sandhill cranes out front

sandhill cranes out front

And overhead. They were not as noisy as some days and there were no birds flying so high that they could not be seen. Really nice numbers of geese going both directions as they tried to correct their navigation to their planned wintering ground. None were down where hunters could get them though.

Cranes overhead

Cranes overhead

The weather forecast for Thursday is for another day just like Saturday so prepare the office for your sick day now so that you do not have to call in from the tower on Thursday. And depending on the source, on of the weekend days may be good or not if you check the other forecast.

And there are more pictures on my website at

http://www.pbase.com/joseph_kennedy_36/2013_hawk_watch_part_2

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