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Osprey Domination and The First Broad-wingeds

September 19, 2012

By Ted Keyel

As the title suggests, Ospreys dominated the fourth day of count (Sept. 18), with 105 individuals.  It was our second day of the season breaking triple digits for the species!  We had a nice Peregrine Falcon flight as well, but more will come!

One of many Ospreys to have passed by. Photo by Ted Keyel

On most mornings, we try to get out and see which passerines are moving through.  This morning – Sept. 19 – we walked the Layton Trail of Long Key State Park. Hoping for a Swainson’s Warbler, we would pause frequently on the trail and scan the ground.  Sadly, to no avail (yet!). However, there was a pretty nice variety of warblers, including some great looks at:  Worm-eating, Black-throated Blue, Black-and-White, Northern Parula, Ovenbird, American Redstarts and a few others.

The real thrill of the walk came from accidentally flushing a male Chuck’s-wills-widow right near a Cooper’s Hawk!  The Coop took off after it, made connection, but the Chucks got away and fluttered to the ground.  We watched the Chucks stay motionless as the Coop looked for it.  Possibly due to our presence, the Coop left.  Not sure what we should do, we decided to continue on the trail.  On our way back, the Chucks was still there, not looking to be in the best shape.  Upon our attempt to get close to grab the bird, it immediately flew within a foot of us (!!) and off it went.  Wow!

The hawkwatch too started out great.  With 12 Swallow-tailed Kites pretty quick off the bat.   We also had our first Broad-winged Hawks of the season!!  A young bird (pictured below) even strafed the platform.  Oddly enough, we also had our first two Sharp-shinned Hawks of the season too, though they flew north.  Hopefully they will remember the memo said that now is the time to migrate to the south, not north!

One of many Broad-wingeds to come!  Photo by Ted Keyel

Yet another treat for the day was an American Avocet in non-breeding plumage along the beach!  With their up-turned bills, large size, and starkly contrasting coloration, Avocets really are one of the most stunning birds.  Also present was a near-breeding plumaged Ruddy Turnstone amongst several Short-billed Dowitchers.  It has been very interesting to see the changes in shorebird species and numbers over the last few days.

American Avocet as it flew by.  Photo by Ted Keyel

Raptor numbers for the day are as follows:

Turkey Vulture – 8
Osprey – 27
Northern Harrier – 1
Cooper’s Hawk – 2
Broad-winged Hawk  – 7
Merlin – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 10
Swallow-tailed Kite – 12
Total: 68

This brings the season to:

Turkey Vulture – 18
Osprey – 323
Northern Harrier – 38
Cooper’s Hawk – 13
Red-shouldered Hawk – 2
Broad-winged Hawk  – 7
Short-tailed Hawk – 3
Merlin – 57
Peregrine Falcon – 55
Swallow-tailed Kite – 24
Mississippi Kite – 8
Total: 548

MORNING SIDE NOTE

By Rafael Galvez

At first light this morning, low-hanging cloud cover was evident from our base at Long Key. Flight calls were all over the sky as large groups of songbirds were making landfall, into the mangrove fringes along the Bay and nearby hardwoods.

The ficus trees, buttonwoods and Gumbo Limbos has several warblers of many species at once. Most prevalent were American Redstarts, Priarie Warblers, Cape May Warblers, and Northern Parulas.

Several Northern Waterthrushes and Ovenbirds were also making landfall, chipping their way into the tangle of mangrove roots. Yellow-throated Warblers and Black-throated Blues were competing over preferred perches atop Coconut Palms; Tennessee Warblers were also around. Indigo Buntings were being heard regularly, while 5 Baltimore Orioles perched at the top of a ficus.

Every morning is markedly different at our location in the Middle Keys. While Bobolinks continued to pass by, they were not heard in nearly the large number – hundreds – heard the last couple of days. As the day progressed, clouds cleared significantly from the sky with winds from the SSE eventually shifting to NW winds. Songbirds were less evident into the afternoon. A few Palm Warblers cruised low over open tracts.

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