Sunday, October 21, 2007

Swainson's Hawk and 15,000 Bird Morning Flight

The season's first Swainson's Hawk, a light morph, was a real crowd pleaser at the Hawk Watch platform today, as it came in with a group of Turkey Vultures and "hung out" for quite a while around noon today. With winds now light and with a southerly component, perhaps it will be found again?

A Vesper Sparrow flew past and alighted on the edge of Bunker Pond, but we couldn't relocate it. Plenty of the expected raptors were in view, including several Red-shouldered Hawks, which, with Broad-wingeds and Red-taileds (and the Swainson's) made for a nice buteo comparison.

I overheard Anna Harris, one of our hawk watch interpreters, say to a visitor (about a Bald Eagle that Glen Davis had called out) as she described where it was, "Well, I haven't really looked at it yet, but. . . "

I remarked that you do that at your peril, and Anna, who's always on top of things, said "Yes, I've found that out first hand. But not usually with Glen." My not really looking at it booboo (which I call the rubber stamping phenomenon) came with a Peregrine someone pointed out to me, which I then announced to the crowd, that transmogrified into a Merlin right before my eyes.

Add this to your rules for living: identify it yourself, and always use at least three field marks.

The Morning Flight was impressive, and as impressive was the fact that Chipping Sparrows rivaled Yellow-rumpeds for top honors in the numbers department. At one point the view from the Morning Flight platform was a shimmering sea of backlit Chipping Sparrows flying directly at us - I told everyone to look, but keep your hands in front of your face. Sam Galick, Morning Flight counter, almost caught a Chipping Sparrow with his hand as it flew by.

With the common species were the usual smattering of extras - Orange-crowned Warbler being the best of the lot I saw from the dike at Higbee, as it pitched into a Holly and perched briefly. Nashville, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, and Blackburnian Warblers were also fly-bys, as were several Blue-headed Vireos. Palm Warblers, Swamp Sparrows, and others were present in the fields at Higbee's, but didn't seem to comprise much of the morning flight. Multiple Pine Siskins and Purple Finches flew over, as did several White-breasted Nuthatches, unusual for this species. Red-breasted Nuthatches continue to be everywhere. My full list for Higbee's is below.

A brief afternoon stop at the Avalon Sea Watch yielded a single White-winged Scoter flying north with Surfs, as well as gannets, Common Loons, and Caspian and Royal Terns.

Location: Higbee Beach
Observation date: 10/21/07
Number of species: 77
Mallard X
Northern Shoveler X
Green-winged Teal X
Double-crested Cormorant X
Great Blue Heron X
Turkey Vulture X
Osprey X
Sharp-shinned Hawk X
Cooper's Hawk X
Merlin X
Black-bellied Plover X
Lesser Yellowlegs 15
Semipalmated Sandpiper 1
Least Sandpiper 5
Pectoral Sandpiper 5
Dunlin 2
Stilt Sandpiper 1
Short-billed Dowitcher 1
Laughing Gull X
Herring Gull X
Great Black-backed Gull X
Caspian Tern X
Royal Tern X
Rock Pigeon X
Mourning Dove X
Northern Flicker X
Eastern Phoebe X
Blue-headed Vireo X
Blue Jay X
American Crow X
Carolina Chickadee X
Tufted Titmouse X
Red-breasted Nuthatch X
White-breasted Nuthatch X
Brown Creeper X
Carolina Wren X
House Wren X
Golden-crowned Kinglet X
Ruby-crowned Kinglet X
American Robin X
Gray Catbird X
Northern Mockingbird X
Brown Thrasher X
European Starling X
Cedar Waxwing X
Orange-crowned Warbler X
Nashville Warbler X
Black-throated Blue Warbler X
Yellow-rumped Warbler X
Black-throated Green Warbler X
Blackburnian Warbler X
Palm Warbler X
Blackpoll Warbler X
Black-and-white Warbler X
American Redstart X
Common Yellowthroat X
Chipping Sparrow X
Field Sparrow X
Savannah Sparrow X
Grasshopper Sparrow X
Song Sparrow X
Swamp Sparrow X
White-throated Sparrow X
Dark-eyed Junco X
Northern Cardinal X
Dickcissel X
Bobolink X
Red-winged Blackbird X
Eastern Meadowlark X
Rusty Blackbird X
Brown-headed Cowbird X
Baltimore Oriole X
Purple Finch X
House Finch X
Pine Siskin X
American Goldfinch X
House Sparrow X

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