Sunday, October 9, 2011

Boothe Park Hawk Watch 10/6

The last week featured a few very good hawk watching days. You'll find all the details of the best day below, Thursday (10/6), one of the best days in the site's now three-year history. The "I" is me, the coordinator of the Boothe Park hawk watch site. I should also point out that this day brought us over 10,000 raptors for the season there in only, then, 69.25 hours of watching. If the site was regularly staffed, boy oh boy...

Start Time
End Time
Scott Kruitbosch
ObserversBill Banks, Charlie Barnard, Lynn Jones
WeatherBeautiful again. Second day after the upper level low departed allowing the high to grace us with a NW flow, lighter than yesterday, perfect to push the birds to our hybrid site. Temperatures maxed out at 64 after a chilly start with dry air and a very clear sky. That made it tough but we still had one of the best days ever.
Observation NotesBill spotted 5 BLACK VULTURES we decided to call local birds as they lingered by the river and never came through. We had a mess of TUVU and RTHA that were dismissed as locals.

BWHA were shockingly plentiful, with one kettle of about 25 birds! Most came by in small groups, many staying over the Housatonic and moving down along it. Nearly all of us saw every bird and they were frequently scrutinized with scopes to confirm that, yes, they were actually BWHA. It provided a few good laughs.

We shattered yesterday's record SSHA day and set a new BAEA daily record, too. It was the second best day for COHA and AMKE.
Non-Raptor NotesA ridiculously high number of YRWA broke the morning flight record, and since I was alone basically that whole time, many more likely flew by our site. Total number of birds was around 174 between those in the park (38) when I arrived before beginning the hawk watch and those that flew in during it (136).

Southbound migrants included:
Canada Goose 711
Common Loon 17 - wow!
Double-crested Cormorant 61
Great Egret 1
Tree Swallow 78
Cedar Waxwing 24
Palm Warbler 6
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 136
Brown-headed Cowbird 12

Migrants in the park included:
Eastern Phoebe 2
Gray Catbird 1
Blackpoll Warbler 1
Palm Warbler 4
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 38
Black-throated Green Warbler 1
Chipping Sparrow 1 - FOF migrant
Song Sparrow 3
White-throated Sparrow 3
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) 1 - FOF

Notable other birds:
2 COMMON RAVEN at least as we frequently saw one or two harassing inbound raptors.

Besides some record raptor numbers I sure saw more Yellow-rumped Warblers than I ever had in one morning. The next day, Friday (10/7), featured two Northern Goshawks in a little over five minutes! You just never know what you're going to get here, and nearly anything is possible.

Here's hoping this is a yearly trend, with each year more eyes to the skies and more raptors and other wondrous birds dropping by. If I can be there on a semi-daily basis each September through November with some help we may end up having a third tremendous fall hawk watch site in Connecticut with its own unique profile. Boothe Park is what we call a hybrid site - not coastal, but not inland, able to capture many Broad-wings in September via strong northwest winds (that go no further than a few miles from the shore, like our site's position) and still get the other species that move to the coast while heading south in good numbers. Being on the Housatonic River helps a lot, especially with eagles and some songbird migrants.

There is still plenty of fall 2011 to go, from the Red-tailed Hawk and Turkey Vulture migration peak to blackbirds that will fly over with numbers in the tens of thousands. Last year we had two northeast record flights on November 1 tallying 249 Red-tailed Hawks and 190 Turkey Vultures. Considering that was of the few days we have been there in November in only year two, I think we have a chance at besting one of those soon enough.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

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