Posted by: jkennedy366 | 8 November 2013

November 7 Wind and broad-wings and eagles

The strong winds going by most of the day kept the hawks and vultures from kettling up high enough to head across the bay using the winds and many of the birds passed by several times as evidenced by another of the ubiquitous dark birds with a couple of wing notches

Another dark one

Another dark one

However, most of the birds did vanish at one point in the early afternoon, not to be seen again.

At one point, 2 young bald eagles were near each other out over the bay in the direction of Galveston. Shortly after, a third bird went just over the tower from the west while all watchers were looking east. It did circle back to the west allowing good looks.

 

Young bald eagle going back

Young bald eagle going back

There were over 150 broad-winged hawks for the day setting lots of records for the day and month. Some of them do feed on their trip but after 40,000 or so other hawks go through it is hard to know what is left to eat other than dragonflies who also migrate in on the same winds. Here is a bird hunting in the northwest motte

Broad-wing hunting in the motte.

Broad-wing hunting in the motte.

 

Perched broad-winged hawk

Perched broad-winged hawk

The wind also allowed a good look at the topside of many hawks as they banked out front trying to go back from the water

Top of the hawk

Top of the hawk

There are many flavors of red-tailed hawks each fall at this time although most seem absent this year as yet. There was a krider’s hawk out Hawkins Camp Road early in the day but it did not come by the tower. This bird was a handsome addition

One of the red-tail variety

One of the red-tail variety

Merlins can be common birds at the tower and environs hunting both water and land birds. They often oblige the watchers by perching in a treetop as they feed. They can make it hard to find shorebirds after the early morning as they persistently hunt the roosting and feeding areas. This bird was joined in the hunt by 2 adult female cooper’s hawks and a young harrier and no birds were present nor had they returned at midmorning. 2 other merlins were hunting nearby in grass sparrow habitat

Merlin hunting shorebirds

Merlin hunting shorebirds

The brisk day was greatly enjoyed by the local peacock flock. They fed well as all were heading back to the day roost by 11 am.

The peahen herd appreciated the brisk weather

The peahen herd appreciated the brisk weather

Large flocks of eastern bluebirds can go by the tower in the fall. Like robins, they often come back as they they tend to be allergic to the water crossing. Flocks can build up with more birds joining the flock with each passage until the whole bunch goes somewhere. They used to nest in metropolitan Smith Point prior to Ike with several birdhouses available and a lack of sparrow competition. But birds like these have been migrants since then although there is a good nesting group up a the road T with 1985 in the boxes there.

Bluebirds can form large flocks over the tower and do not like to cross the bay either.

Bluebirds can form large flocks over the tower and do not like to cross the bay either.

Landbirds were very scarce around the tower and in the motte I visited but there was a constant stream of accipiters in and through the woods all day. Many were repeats but for several hours hunting birds, often several were going through the trees. Maybe a sign of bird absence as if they did catch a bird, they would have stopped hunting. There still are plenty of dragonflies around but were only in evidence in the sun and lee of the woods.

There may be another little push of northerly air but of the northeasterly type on sunday and then around Tuesday or so another really good cold push and then babble about a real good freeze next weekend just after the hawk watch ends. That is an experience that all hawk watchers should do once. Spend a day with a 35 mph wind, 38 degrees and no portapotty as it blew to the edge of the parking lot. A great experience missed the last couple of seasons.

 

 

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