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Another Merlin Morning

September 21, 2011

Although only 6 species of raptors were seen, the total of 68 birds was not all that bad. However, most birds went through by the first couple of hours of watch, making the afternoon rather dull. Especially considering it was a morning of 22 Merlins during the first hour!! No complaints here. The birds were again flying low, this time mostly along the interior, towards the S-SE. Again, the feisty little falcons seemed to prefer wet and blustery weather, grinding against gusts up to 27 km/h.

As much as I’m captivated by Merlin flights, one particular moment ranked as my day’s favorite. We watched an adult male Northern Harrier casually fly directly into these 17mph winds and rain, and out into the ocean eastward. It was just breathtaking.

Another of the day’s highlights was a pair of adult Mississippi Kites, buoyantly flapping towards the southwest.

Passerines were missing in action today. We will continue monitoring their migration through radar via Badbirdz. Check out the very nice post by the NatureIsAwesome duo on birding forecast for the coming weekend.

Today’s totals:
Osprey – 12
Northern Harrier – 6
Broad-winged Hawk – 1
Merlin – 30
Peregrine Falcon – 17
Mississippi Kite – 2 
Total – 68

The photo above of a young Peregrine Falcon was digiscoped using a Leica APO-Televid 77, at the Dry Tortugas during December of 2009.

I have to say that as a long-time 10×42 bin user, I was reluctant for long to commit to 8xs at a hawkwatch. However, Leica’s generous equipment sponsorship has given me the opportunity to test their Ultravid 8×32 HD binoculars, and I could not endorse them more. The brightness and clarity of the lenses is just awesome. I’ve never used another pair that comes close. And they are incredibly lightweight and compact, making long days with arms raised a zinch.  You gotta give them a try!

We are still waiting for the Buteos and Accipiters. Let us see what tomorrow brings.

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