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Getting Busy!

October 7, 2011

By Rafael A. Gálvez

Although it was not the very best of flights – migrating raptors continue to move “southward” over the Middle Keys, and we manage to keep an optimistic and upbeat attitude.

With much to do in preparation for an exciting weekend, I split my efforts, spending a bit of time at the hawkwatch alongside Jim and Larry – who were there the entire shift – and mostly helping Jeff Bouton set up the banding station.

Winds registered primarily out of the north, with a bit of an eastern component that has slowed migration enough to keep us tense and waiting for more. Although wind speeds averaged around 8 km/h, gusts registered up to 31 km/h!!!

Peregrines keep on holding up, with 32 birds today – not bad! Broad-wings finally showed up after missing in action for several days, though they still have much to promise. Merlins and Kestrels were certainly around – they just were not migrating! Maybe the winds were too much to put up with. And a nice surprise was the second Swainson’s Hawk of the season, which Larry managed to photograph at the last possible minute. With kites absent for several days now and the “late” Buteos showing up rather early, it feels like mid October around here.

Our total of 130 migratory raptors included:

Osprey – 12
Northern Harrier – 5
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 16
Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 51
Swainson’s Hawk – 1
American Kestrel – 12
Peregrine Falcon – 32

Jeff really outdid himself today, and had much to show by the evening. We celebrated with the first of the season’s trapped birds, and took part in the banding process of a male hatch-year Merlin. This, however, was attained after long hours of scavenging through the coastal prairie habitat for natural material for posts and for the blind structure, the digging of various holes, and lots of ingenuous rigging.

Below is a photo of Jeff envisioning the site’s layout in the morning – you could hear those gears churning! To the right, Jeff takes the first bird out of the net during the late afternoon. What excitement!

Below, I was thrilled to partake in this moment, and after Jim helped entered the data on the form, I held the young Merlin for some photos before releasing it.

About the topmost images. They were taken by Larry McDaniel – a Swainson’s Hawk at the left and an American Kestrel at the right, photographed during the day’s count. Larry was a fantastic asset to this season and was with FKH for a full week of hard work and excellent flights. He will be greatly missed as today was his last day. We wish him a good trip back home, and hope to see him back at FKH soon!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Susan Sorensen permalink
    October 7, 2011 7:03 am

    Beautiful little merlin! The winds will abate and you all are going to be BUSY!!

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