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Ospreys and Northeast Winds

September 17, 2011

Migration continued today at the Florida Keys Hawkwatch with 9 raptor species tallied for a total of 56 birds.

Sharp-shinned Hawks took our attention the first half of the day, with 10 birds before 1pm, for a total of 12 for the day. However, Ospreys continued on a steady flow for a total of 24 birds, with 13 on the last 2 hours. A nice spurt of Merlins gave the day added excitement.

Raptor totals for the day:

Osprey – 24
Mississippi Kite – 1
Bald Eagle – 2 (1 adult, 1 immature)
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 12
Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 6
Red-shouldered Hawk – 1
Merlin – 5
Peregrine – 4
Total – 56

Highlight: Least Sandpipers once again took a scare, this time by a Merlin. While watching a group of 5 Leasts flying in towards the ocean, a Merlin swooped down unannounced and gave the group a chase, managing to break one bird from the pack. But the “peep” had quick swerving skills and despite a lengthy chase, managed to get away. The Merlin continued on southward.

Winds persisted today out of the east-northeast, averaging about 5km/h with gusts nearing 15km/h. Unlike yesterday, we had decent cloud cover – mostly 30-40% – which made the detection of migratory raptors easier. Once again, birds moved at high altitudes and far in towards the bay, pushed away from the ocean-side shoreline by easterlies.

Above, a photo of today’s skies, with a varied combination of cloud cover. In this photo, a massive Cumulonimbus head ever-present in the distance carried rain, sometimes flashing with lightning and crested with color spectra. Cirrus clouds stretched at high altitudes, and sparse cover of Cumulus clouds dotted lower elevations.

Other sightings included Anhingas, White Crowned Pigeons, Black-throated Blue Warbler (1), Bank Swallows, Indigo Bunting (heard), and a quiet nighthawk moving southwest. Out by the beach, Linda Sunderland photographed a Piping Plover.

Counters: Dan Click, Jim Eager, Rafael Galvez – with a special visit from Kevan and Linda Sunderland.

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