Posted by: jasonbojczyk | 17 September 2014

A Little Bit of Raptor Action

The Zone-tailed Hawk has not been seen since the initial day, 9-13. While raptors are actually starting to move, the numbers have been rather disappointing. The Zone-tailed vibe is still going, but from an objective standpoint, there should have been many more raptors on the 14th and 15th. Mississippi Kites, currently totaling 2,332, will almost certainly have the 2nd worst season in the past 10 full seasons of coverage. Very rarely do Mississippi Kites get in great numbers (500+ a day) past September 17th at Smith Point. In fact, it’s (500+ a day) only happened on two days past September 17th in the past 10 full counts. Last year was a great example of later Mississippi Kite migration at Smith Point, so hopefully we can repeat some of that. Unfortunately, the short and long-term weather forecasts aren’t looking good for that to happen, though they have been variable. Likewise, it’ll be another poor season for Swallow-tailed Kites as we’re well past their peak now and can only hope to reach 10 or more for the remainder of the season. Accipiters seem to be on the slow side of things but looking back it appears that a fair number of years they don’t really start up until the 4th week of September. It has certainly felt like a slow season for raptors (averaging under 10 raptors an hour for 48 days) and if the predicted rain and thunderstorms (at or around Smith point) continue to hamper the count in the coming week, this could very well be a similar season to 2010-the worst raptor season ever at Smith Point with 24,916 raptors recorded. Hopefully that isn’t the case but fear of this being one of the 3 worst seasons for raptors at Smith Point is slowly starting to creep in.

September 14th (Sunday)

Raptors Counted: 211

Osprey-1

Northern Harrier-1

Broad-winged Hawk-167

Swainson’s Hawk-1

Mississippi Kite-41

Another great Anhinga day with over 1,000. Great wind direction and temperatures, but overcast. Other highlights included over 100 Blue-winged Teal, nearly 1,000 White Ibis, 2 Oystercatchers, a variety of shorebirds and terns, and a high Chuck-will’s-widow.

September 15th (Monday)

Raptors Counted: 126

Northern Harrier-1

Cooper’s Hawk-1

Broad-winged Hawk-83

Mississippi Kite-41

What seemed to be ideal raptor conditions (continuing cold front, no to light north winds, little cloud cover) led to the most disappointing raptor day of the season, in terms of expectations. Other highlights included a Mottled Duck, nearly 300 Anhinga, over 1,000 White Ibis, 19 Wood Storks, an Oystercatcher, 21 Eastern Kingbirds, over 100 Gnatcatchers, and 2 Painted Buntings. The first Cowbirds of the season were also seen, with a flock of 33.

September 16th (Tuesday)

Raptors Counted: 158

Sharp-shinned Hawk-1

Cooper’s Hawk-2

Broad-winged Hawk-10

Peregrine Falcon-1

Mississippi Kite-143

Swallow-tailed Kite-1

Yesterday’s numbers make it seem like it was more active than it was, with most action only in 3 hours. Around 50 Mississippi Kites crossed the bay and are the first to do that this season. A Swallow-tailed was rather pleasant too. Other highlights included 64 White Pelicans, 2 Long-billed Curlews, over 50 Gnatcatchers, 11 Blue Grosbeaks, and 11 Baltimore Orioles.

September 17th (Wednesday)

Today’s Count: 24

Northern Harrier-1

Broad-winged Hawk-23

Today’s activity was limited due to rain and thunderstorms all around and hitting Smith Point. A lone Broad-winged Kettle and single Harrier made up all the raptor action. The main highlight of the day was another great Gnatcatcher day, with over 450 passing the tower. Other highlights included 69 Blue-winged Teal, 17 White Pelicans, 29 Frigatebirds, 16 Dark Ibis, 6 Wood Storks, a Semipalmated Plover, a Great Horned Owl calling, and 2 Blue Grosbeaks. Robbin Park is starting to pick up again, at least with terns. Tomorrow’s forecast is dreadful.

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