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First Day Excitement!

September 15, 2011

The first day of monitoring at the Florida Keys Hawkwatch was no disappointment. With 9 species of raptors and several migrant passerines, this was an excellent first day.

The raptors:
Our total of 46 birds might not be turning many heads, but considering that the first week of monitoring at Curry Hammock can be on the slow side, we had no complaints. The summary of our observations is as follows:

Osprey – 6
Mississippi Kite – 1 (subadult)
Swallow-tailed Kite – 1
Cooper’s Hawk – 10 (mixed)
Broad-winged Hawk – 19 (only 4 adults)
Red-shouldered Hawk – 2
American Kestrel – 1 (female)
Merlin – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 5 (adults)

In addition, a subadult (3rd year) Bald Eagle hung around the area – going back and forth several times throughout the day. We saw a couple of Peregrine Falcons engaged in localized, non-migratory activity; and the same could be said for some Ospreys. The largest congregation of Turkey Vultures this day did not exceed 25 birds.

Highlight: One adult Peregrine Falcon was seen tearing into a mixed flock of shorebirds along the beach. The Peregrine focused in on a Least Sandpiper that it chased for some time, soon surfacing with the prey on its talons. Out of nowhere, a second adult Peregrine appeared and locked talons with the first, attempting to steal the prize. We watched both birds struggle to fly in their locked grip and tumble down beyond sight. The loser – one of the Peregrines without the catch – soon resurfaced, shaking itself as it gained height and continued with migration.

Last night and this early morning, Parulas and Prairie Warblers could be heard in flight. As we arrived to Curry Hammock, a pair of Swainson’s Thrushes and Bobolinks were overhead. Several birds were seen and heard throughout the day; highlights include:
Northern Parula
Prairie Warbler (all over the place)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (first-year female – nice!)
Northern Waterthrush
Black-and-white Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Summer Tanager
Swainson’s Thrush
Purple Martin
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Bank Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Baltimore Oriole
and others.

Also in the area we saw movement of Blue-winged Teal (about 50), several large flocks of White Ibis, and White-crowned Pigeons.

Counters today: Rafael Galvez, Jim Eager and Rudy Brancel.

Weather: Last night we had a couple of hours of good rainfall, but the sky was clear by daybreak. It was a nice day with no more than 5% cloud cover at any given point. The temperature fluctuated between 30C to 34C (86F to 93F). The wind came and went in mild gusts of no more than 10km/h, fluctuating as the day passed from ESE in the morning to N for most of the afternoon. Whereas flights seemed mostly inland earlier in the day, they followed the ocean-side shoreline later in the afternoon.

See you all at the keys soon. Don’t forget to check the radar at Badbirdz and post your observations!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan Sorensen permalink
    September 15, 2011 8:29 pm

    Excellent!!!!! I’m so excited to see all the raptors coming back our way! I’ve seen six osprey coming in from the north in Lower Matecumbe this afternoon around 5:30, and one very large Cooper’s Hawk that dive-bombed my yard, full of Eurasian Collared and Mourning Doves.

    Haven’t seen the Broadwings yet but know that three will stop and stay in Long Key as they do every year for the last 10. They take up guard on the powerlines along the road around Long Key State Park.

    • September 15, 2011 9:27 pm

      Susan, we hope to see you at the hawkwatch some time soon!

      • Susan Sorensen permalink
        September 15, 2011 9:53 pm

        Rafael – I have to be in Jacksonville for the next four days, but will be down to Curry when I get back next week, probably Sunday. Will be in the Tortugas (weather notwithstanding) Saturday, the 24th to photograph the birds there, but Sunday looks good right now! You guys just keep counting those wings!!

  2. September 15, 2011 8:54 pm

    Can’t wait to get there! Love how the banner looks! Glad you saw a Turpial…

    • September 15, 2011 9:29 pm

      There might have even been two (translation for those who don’t know – Bego is referring to the oriole(s) – as they are often called in Spanish.) Can’t wait till you come down also :-]

  3. NatureIsAwesome permalink
    September 15, 2011 10:39 pm

    Awesome kick off to the season! We can’t wait to get down there later this month. We are proud of you guys, keep up the great work!


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