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Steady Flights, Steady Heights!

September 19, 2018

Counters scanning the NW skies. L-R: Lindsey Duval, Chris Payne, Alex Lamoreaux, Luis Gles.

The story of the hawkwatch season so far has been consistency. The winds have remained nearly the same every day, coming from the Southeast or East with few exceptions. As a result the migration has been steady, with the top 5 days ranging between 214 and 293 raptors. The primary flight line of the season to this point has been far to the Northwest and very high up, forcing our counters to put their Leica optics to good use!

One of the many migrant Osprey past FKH this year. Photo by Luis Gles.

Osprey remains the most numerous migrant so far with 884 tallied after 10 days. With a good flight on Tuesday, we could top 1,000 for the season. In second: our famous Peregrine Falcons with 191. They have really picked up over the last four days with a daily high of 48 on Saturday. Merlins have picked up some steam with over half of the season’s total coming by in the last two days alone. Additionally, the first American Kestrel of the season was spotted on Friday. Buteos have begun to appear in the last four days with over 100 Broad-winged Hawks, the first Short-tailed Hawk, and two early Red-shouldered Hawks flying past the lookout.

A juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk at Long Key SP. Photo by Alex Lamoreaux.

Northern Harriers have trickled by in small numbers all season, with most of them being adult males: A.K.A. “Gray Ghosts.” Cooper’s Hawks have been fairly steady so far, but we are still awaiting the first Sharp-shinned Hawk of the season. Kites have been gradually trailing off since a big flight of them on Thursday, but we are still getting good numbers of both species for this point in the season. Hopefully we get some favorable weather soon to spur a big day!

A low-flying Swallow-tailed Kite. Photos by Luis Gles.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. jackson33301 permalink
    September 19, 2018 6:22 pm

    We used to come to the Hawkwatches when we lived in Fort Lauderdale, but now we are in crescent city, FL . We are curious as to the flight path and whether we could see some migration from where we are, east side of lake at hurricane point?? Thanks michael & joanne jackson


    • September 27, 2018 11:13 am

      Hi. Thank you for commenting. Migration through much of the Florida peninsula goes undetected, primarily because of the relative lack of long-term monitoring sites. If one was to watch for migrants for a couple of hours on a single day in mid-September in the Middle Keys without knowledge of flights in that region, one may think that it was not necessarily a good place to detect migration. It has taken years of persistent monitoring and refining of the best location for detection that has given us the assurance that our location is indeed worthy of a hawkwatch. There may be many other such sites in Florida, but it will take observers a lot of patience, and the refining of a strategy in order to find that sweet spot. What we do know is that the thousands of migratory raptors that we detect from the Middle Keys are likely flying over the peninsula undetected. Typically, raptors like to follow landmarks, so it is likely that results may be better east of Hurricane Point, along the Atlantic shore. Good luck and I hope we see you again.

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