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Drastic Weather = Raptors 19 + Songbird Saturation

October 19, 2011

By Rafael A. Gálvez

Today’s hawkwatch was only a partial count, starting at 1:30pm and running until 4pm. It rained until early afternoon, at times very hard, with winds out of the SW and gusts up to 40 kph. The nearby city of Marathon closed public school this morning. Early lightning and thunder were very impressive.

By mid-day, the winds came nearly to a complete halt. As I write this (9:45pm), the winds have considerably increased, holding steady out of the NW at around 20 kph, with gusts up to 35 kph.

Only 19 birds of prey of 3 species were observed engaged in “southbound” flight including:

Osprey – 2
Merlin – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 16

Additionally, several American Kestrels were observed in localized non-migratory movement, in addition to Broad-winged Hawks and Short-tailed Hawks.

Song bird activity after the rain was much like the previous day; warblers and other passerines were evident in nearly every tree in the Middle Keys. Tennessee remained as the most common warbler, but there was no lack of American Redstarts, Black-throated Blues and Cape May Warblers. An increase of Worm-eating, Magnolia, and Black-and-white was also noticeable. Birds not seen yesterday but seen today included Scarlet and Summer Tanagers and Baltimore Oriole. Additionally, my first Whip-poor-will of the season and a Nighthawk sp. were seen.

The Overseas highway today was somewhat deserted once the storm let-up. The bodies of many Yellow-billed Cuckoos and warblers were strewn about. I managed to rescue 2 Black-throated Blue Warblers from flooded lots.

The photo composite above was taken handheld using a Leice V-Lux 30. Clockwise: Broad-winged Hawk juv., Nighthawk sp., Eastern Wood-Pewee, and Bay-breasted Warblers. One of the highlights of the current weather event and related migration activity has been the presence of more Bay-breasted Warbler than I can ever remember in South Florida before.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2011 10:16 pm

    Awesome pics, were these digiscoped? Tomorrow’s gonna be a huge kestrel day I bet. If I were there I so would have added some bling to that BW Hawk! 🙂

  2. October 19, 2011 10:22 pm

    No digiscope here Jeff, simply handheld in very low light. The little V-Lux 30 does the trick!
    I have a feeling you are right about tomorrow’s Kestrels. I guess we shall see. It might be rather gusty, so birds are going to be tearing through! Too bad you can’t come down again; there have been plenty of perched raptors around in the need bling.

  3. NatureIsAwesome permalink
    October 19, 2011 11:34 pm

    Lots AMKE, MERL, and PEFA in Miami these last few days. Miami radar is looking impressive tonight with reflectivity levels reaching 25-30 dBZ in many areas representing a density 602-1788 birds per cubic kilometer. Weather has cleared up down here with the arrival of the cold front which is why the density recorded on radar is unusually high. Keys radar looks very much the same with slightly less birds being picked up by the radar beam.

    Keep your eyes peeled for something rare, winds looks great for a vagrant from the west or the plains to pop up.

    Nature is Awesome
    Angel & Mariel

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