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Gusty Tuesday

October 4, 2011

By Rafael A. Gálvez

Not everyday is the same at the Florida Keys Hawkwatch. After an excellent weekend of good numbers and diversity, we continue onto week of modest flights. Today’s numbers are the lowest in 7 days, and it would appear the weather is linked to this. With winds out of the NNE, speeds never dropping below 8km/h and persistent gusts up to 22km/h, migrating raptors struggled to keep on course. Cloud cover was low and never below 70%, with precipitation during the first and last hour of count. The flight patterns were inconsistent, with many birds flying very low, often changing direction or struggling to maintain a controlled trajectory.

Our 167 migrating raptors included:

Osprey – 42
Northern Harrier – 16
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 4
Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 2
American Kestrel – 34
Merlin – 8
Peregrine Falcon – 60

A handful of Turkey Vultures were also in the vicinity.

Larry McDaniel and I started the day early, with a visit to Crane Point and their wonderful hammock and mangrove trails. We saw quite a number of birds, but diversity was moderate. Most of the usual warbler species were present – nothing surprising – including Worm-eating, Black-throated Blue and American Redstart. We heard a few flyover Swainson’s Thrushes and plenty of Palm Warblers. A highlight was a beautiful golden Summer Tanager near a blooming Dildo Cactus. Chuck-will’s Widow’s continue to be sighted regularly.

At the hawkwatch, additional sightings included Roseate Spoonbills, White-crowned Pigeons, Baltimore Orioles and Eastern Kingbirds.

We look forward to the rest of the week – optimistically!

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