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Let October Begin!

October 1, 2011

By Rafael A. Gálvez

The month of October started with a good push of birds, which took advantage of winds out of the north/northwest this first day. Flight paths were primarily overhead, often at comfortable altitutes, giving us great looks at several species, and allowing our necks some rest.

Above is an excellent photo taken by Kevan Sunderland during last year’s season. Kevan and his wife Linda joined us today during the morning – he took some great photos of Accipiters and Broad-wings in flight.

Highlights included our 35th Mississippi Kite of the season – let them keep coming – and excellent numbers of Peregrines. Broad-wings, Sharpies and Kestrels continue increasing, as do Harriers in smaller numbers.

It was interesting to watch many of the Peregrines migrating far along the Atlantic – often hardly visible from deck – yet following a southwest trajectory. Many of the birds appeared to trend slightly towards the shore as they moved along, but this was by no means the general rule. Broad-wings were also seen moving on a southwest trajectory, often farther offshore than one would expect. It would seem the thermal activity was being carried offshore by the winds, along with the birds.

Today’s total of 727:

Osprey – 13
Mississippi Kite – 1
Northern Harrier – 9
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 116
Cooper’s Hawk – 34
Broad-winged Hawk -351
Red-shouldered Hawk – 3
American Kestrel – 77
Merlin – 6
Peregrine Falcon – 115
Unidentified Accipiter – 1

Our season-to-date totals are:

Osprey – 524
Mississippi Kite – 36
Swallow-tailed Kite – 18
Bald Eagle – 10
Northern Harrier – 91
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 310
Cooper’s Hawk – 166
Red-shouldered Hawk – 18
Broad-winged Hawk – 1266
Red-tailed Hawk – 1
American Kestrel – 240
Merlin – 253
Peregrine Falcon – 834
Unknown Accipiter – 5
Unknown Buteo – 1
Unknown Raptor – 2
Total:  3775

The official counters today were Larry McDaniel, Jim Eager and Rafael Galvez. We were joined by an excellent group of folks that included Mark Hedden, Joanne and Michael Jackson, and Ed Woodraff. It was a great pleasure to also have Dennis Olle with us, as representative of Tropical Audubon Society and Carlton Fields; we hope to have him back soon.

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