Posted by: jasonbojczyk | 24 August 2014

Massive Gnatcatcher Day!!!

Today’s Count: 25

Sharp-shinned Hawk-2

Cooper’s Hawk-5

Broad-winged Hawk-15

Swainson’s Hawk-3

Additional Raptors Seen:

Black Vulture-10+

Turkey Vulture-10+

Cooper’s Hawk-1

Swainson’s Hawk-1

Red-tailed Hawk-1

Today brought something that hasn’t been seen in weeks…another double-digit Broad-winged kettle!  Today also tied our best day this season so far. The forecast was pretty much true with very light NW winds, gradually switching to light variable winds, eventually from the south. With these conditions, raptors were quite high, other than some vultures.

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Non-raptor highlights today included 85 American White Pelicans, 238 Anhinga, 438 White Ibis, 11 Dark Ibis, 18 Wood Storks, 9 Lesser Yellowlegs, 9 Upland Sandpipers, at least 150 White-winged Doves, 2 Olive-sided Flycatchers, a Least Flycatcher, 13 Eastern Kingbirds, at least 4,000 swallows, 5 Yellow Warblers, 10 Dickcissels, and 29 Orchard Orioles.

A few Blue Jays came in to  the feeders today, including this banded one

A few Blue Jays came in to the feeders today, including this banded one

One of the Anhinga kettles today

One of the Anhinga kettles today

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Olive-sided Flycatcher

The Wood Storks have been lovely, but I think something is missing fact, there's a perfect gap for something to be right in there with them...

The Wood Storks have been lovely, but I think something is missing here….in fact, there’s a perfect gap for something to be right in there with them…


Alright, on to today’s amazement. Gnatcatchers. A total of…………

3,103 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers!!!!!!!!!!

Despite some good effort, I didn’t arrive on the tower at sunrise, but I did get there at 7:15. I grabbed my binoculars, scope, and camera and quickly made my way up the tower. In view was perhaps the most amazing passerine movement I have ever witnessed. So many gnatcatchers were moving around the tower all at once! You couldn’t scan for higher gnatcatchers to count because if you did you would certainly miss the naked eye ones. In fact, there were so many naked eye ones that I had to say ok, there’s too many swallows to deal with in that stream of gnatcatchers, I’ll count the other stream that’s moving with less swallows! The day’s biggest push was when at least 1,100 passed the tower in just under 20 minutes-between 7:20 and 7:38.  That’s just over a bird a second! At that rate other passerines were pretty much ignored unless they flew right in view, and there was some awesome coloration on the Orchard Orioles that went by. There was a brief rest after this wave for about 10 minutes and it actually seemed like they were done for the day, with hundreds less than yesterday. I hoped and hoped for a second wave, and sure enough it came! This wave was more protracted with some pulses, but nothing like the first one. The gnatcatchers shut off around noon.

If you missed these last 3 shows, you might have another chance at it tomorrow. Tomorrow is forecast to be winds with a northerly component for half of the day. With favorable winds, it could be the biggest gnatcatcher day yet, with perhaps 4,000 even possible. We should have the best raptor day of the season too, with triple digits very likely. August is hard to predict, particularly for kite numbers, but I’ll throw out a prediction for tomorrow. I think the day will start off with another huge gnatcatcher movement, similar to today’s, and a relatively similar number. I think Orchard Orioles, Dickcissels, Yellow Warblers, and Kingbirds will all have their best days of the season so far, with at least 25 of each (yes, that’s not a peak number for some species this season). I think there will be over 1,000 White Ibis tomorrow, along with fairly good numbers of Anhinga, White Pelican, and Wood Storks. Finally, I think kites will be similar to 2010’s numbers around this time-250-300 Mississippi Kites, but I think more Swallow-taileds will come through, with 8 (peak kite hours look like they’ll be between 10 and 12 tomorrow). Of course, this is just a prediction, so I could very well be wrong on all accounts, but they’re fun to make! One thing that is near certain though is that it’ll be a great day to be on the tower (but when isn’t it?)

This Bobwhite capped off an excellent day

This Bobwhite capped off an excellent day

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