First Day Excitement!
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.
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:
Prairie Warbler (all over the place)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (first-year female – nice!)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
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!