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Flying High

September 16, 2011

“Straight-up, two of them – one above the other – below the bluer streak of sky… got them?”

The second day of monitoring at the Florida Keys Hawkwatch gave us 9 species, for a total of 27 birds

Although we had nearly the same species as yesterday, we had to work a lot harder for less birds. We did not see a Swallow-tailed Kite, but had the season’s first Sharpies. Nearly all the raptors observed today were migrating at high altitudes, and towards the end of the day they neared the limit of identification using binoculars. Winds were out of the east-northeast, averaging below 5km/h, with gusts up to 15.9km/h.  The high flights combined with very low cloud cover (0% the last 2 hours) made for a challenging day.

Our totals are as follows:

Osprey – 2
Mississippi Kite – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk -3
Cooper’s Hawk – 4
Broad-winged Hawk – 5
Red-shouldered Hawk – 2
American Kestrel – 1
Merlin – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 5

Although we had some rain last night, the sky was clear by 5am. I heard significantly fewer flight calls into daybreak and at first morning compared to the previous day. I did have new players – a Yellow-throated Warbler making landfall and a Northern Shoveler flyover. A quick stroll through the Thatch Palm forest on the bay-side at Curry Hammock prior to the hawkwatch resulted in few passerines – N. Parula, Prairie Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat – Bobolink flyovers, but not much else. A Chuck-will’s Widow was spooked from a nearby branch. Swallow flights were sparse and also quite high, and well mixed, with less Purple Martins and Barn Swallows, and more Banks and N. Rough-wings.

A nice surprise was a close flyby of a White-rumped Sandpiper.

It is late, and time to go to sleep. Good night and keep posted!

Counters: Jim Eager, Rafael Galvez

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