Posted by: jasonbojczyk | 10 September 2014

Over 60,000 Swallows!!!!!

September 8th (Monday)

Raptors Counted: 514

Broad-winged Hawk-69

Swainson’s Hawk-7

Red-shouldered Hawk-1

Sharp-shinned Hawk-2

Cooper’s Hawk-3

Mississippi Kite-426

Swallow-tailed Kite-2


Northern Harrier-1

Crested Caracara-1

Monday saw us get some more raptor action, with our first countable Caracara and the first Harrier of the season. Most of the raptors came in the afternoon. Other highlights included the first excellent Anhinga flight of the season, with 1,348 counted, over 1,000 White Ibis, over 8,000 swallows, over 500 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, 27 Baltimore Orioles, and a Bobcat. The Anhinga were pretty amazing with flock after flock coming through, the largest of which was about 400 birds.

September 9th (Tuesday)

Raptors Counted: 26

Broad-winged Hawk-12

Cooper’s Hawk-3

Unknown Accipiter-1

Mississippi Kite-7

American Kestrel-1

Peregrine Falcon-1

Northern Harrier-1

Yesterday’s light south winds didn’t bring much in terms of raptors. Nine Crested Caracaras perched at one time in the mottes was pretty amazing though. Highlights included just under 250 Anhinga, over 700 White Ibis, 44 Eastern Kingbirds, over 5,000 swallows, nearly 500 Gnatcatchers, and the season’s first Lark Sparrow.  Robbins Park was the quietest it’s been all season.

September 10th (Wednesday)

Today’s Count: 11

Mississippi Kite-11

Additional Raptors Seen:

Turkey Vulture-5

Cooper’s Hawk-2

Crested Caracara-1

Strong southeast winds brought little raptor movement today. A daylight Chuck-will’s-widow and Marbled Godwit were the main species of interest besides the swallows.

Swallows didn’t move too heavily for the first half of the count, with ‘only’ around 2,300 counted. However, they started pouring through around 12:30. In the next hour over 8,000 swallows passed the tower! The flight line was excellent as it was right by the tower. In the next 4 hours there were over 50,000 swallows for the day, with ~48,000 seen between 12:30 and 5:30. In other terms, averaging 9,600 swallows an hour or 160 swallows a minute for 5 hours!!!! It reached 500 swallows a minute a fair number of times and peaked at around 750 swallows a minute for the day. I remained on the tower the rest of the day. Just before the sun was setting I finally had about a 10 minute window to add up the swallows tallied thus far: 59,745. I really didn’t think there was going to be another push to reach 60,000, but sure enough, as the sun was setting, another 460 swallows went by, resulting in an astounding 60,205 swallows passing the tower today!!!! A couple thousand swallow days here may seem to some to not be that outstanding, nor perhaps the many thousands seen earlier this season. The best way to put the number seen today into context is that the number of swallows seen today exceeds the 10-year average number of raptors seen at Smith Point each year (a 3-3.5 month time period)!!! An unforgettable day and the biggest day of migration I’ve ever had. In addition to the very satisfying flight line, the breakdown of swallows was almost 100% Cliff, making counting relatively straightforward. Early in the day I tried unsuccessfully to pull out a Cave in several hundred Cliff Swallows and throughout the remainder of the day Barn and Bank Swallows were very tough to pull out of the constant Cliff Swallow stream. Therefore the ‘non-cliff’ swallows are somewhat estimates as the focus was on counting the swallows.

Purple Martin-20+

Bank Swallow-75+

Cliff Swallow-60,010

Barn Swallow-100+

Not quite all of the day's Cliff Swallows, but the majority. The left 4 clickers were those individually tallied (35,697 clicks of 35,697 birds) and the right 2 clickers are of clicks pushed when 100 Cliff Swallows went by (191 clicks of 19,100 birds)

Not quite all of the day’s Cliff Swallows, but the majority. The left 4 clickers were those individually tallied (35,697 clicks of 35,697 birds) and the right 2 clickers are of when 100 Cliff Swallows went by at a time (191 clicks of 19,100 birds)


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