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Old Tuesday 8th August 2017, 18:34   #1
birdmeister
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Migration Season in Eastern Pennsylvania

Hello All,

I have enjoyed following other BF members' ongoing threads on various subjects so much that I thought I would start one of my own. What better topic to post about than fall migration, my favorite time of the birding year?

So far it has been a bit slow, as it is still August. Shorebird migration has been going on for some time now. Unfortunately, it is a very down year viewing-wise as water levels here are very high. I have yet to see Solitary, Semipalmated, and Pectoral Sandpipers this fall, let alone rarities!

Today, though, migration was certainly apparent. After rain all day yesterday, today's north winds and no rain were a good combination. I watched the skies for about an hour around lunchtime. Probable migrants were a very high swallow sp., 36 Double-crested Cormorants, and two Monarch butterflies. A Red-shouldered Hawk was a surprise and a possible migrant, but a very early one if so.

Here is my list as reported to eBird:

36 Double-crested Cormorant
Exact count. Flocks of 28 and 8 flew over heading South. Large dark waterbirds. Wingbeats faster than Canada Goose.

4 Black Vulture

3 Turkey Vulture

1 Red-shouldered Hawk
Possibly an early migrant? Appeared overhead and circled slowly to the SE.

1 Mourning Dove

1 Chimney Swift

1 Blue Jay

1 American Crow

1 Barn Swallow

1 swallow sp.

1 Carolina Wren

2 American Robin

2 European Starling

7 Cedar Waxwing

1 Song Sparrow

1 sparrow sp.

1 Northern Cardinal

1 Common Grackle

7 Brown-headed Cowbird

1 House Finch

1 American Goldfinch

1 House Sparrow

11 passerine sp.

3 bird sp.



I am eagerly awaiting more in the days to come!

Last edited by birdmeister : Tuesday 8th August 2017 at 18:39.
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Old Wednesday 9th August 2017, 14:22   #2
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Moon-watching

I looked at the forecast last night and saw that calm/slightly N winds were predicted, and it was a clear night, so I geared up for some moon-watching to see if I could spot some migrants.

It was a bit slow, but certainly not a failure. I confirmed two birds and two bats (the latter not traveling south). The first bird was a small passerine. Shape and flight style were wrong for a thrush or warbler but looked good for a finch-type bird, so I am guessing either an Indigo Bunting or a Bobolink. The second bird was a bit larger with a long tail and straight flight. It looked like a grackle or an American Robin, but I don't think either species should have been migrating last night. Perhaps that one (and an unconfirmed sandpiper) is best left unidentified!:)

I also enjoy looking at migration on the radar. I have included two snapshots of the radar for the eastern half of the U.S last night. The first shows almost no birds, and the second one shows migration in full swing (almost)!
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Old Monday 14th August 2017, 13:07   #3
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After several days of either rain or sun and no wind, yesterday was partly cloudy with Northwest winds. Sounds good! I ended up being busy for almost the whole day, so was not able to fully take advantage of the opportunity. However, there certainly were migrants around during the little time I watched.

A 10 or 15 minute watch yesterday morning brought flyby Baltimore Oriole and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, both good birds to see from my yard. Yesterday evening brought 10+ Cedar Waxwings and a lone Double-crested Cormorant.

I was out at 6 AM this morning to see what passed by, as last night's radar looked fairly good. More Cedar Waxwings (21 this time) and a very distant raptor, possibly American Kestrel.

Perhaps there will be a few more later today, but it will get hot again with the possibility of rain in the next few days.
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Old Monday 21st August 2017, 03:02   #4
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Yesterday's conditions and scenario were somewhat similar to the ones described in my previous post, with two significant differences. First, yesterday's winds were light and coming from the West, and second, the temperature yesterday was still pretty hot (e.g not a strong cold front). Still, there were some things to see.

A watch from my yard for about an hour yesterday turned up at least two Broad-winged Hawks (likely migrating) and an Osprey raptor-wise. Swallows were very active, with good numbers of Barn, probably a Tree or two, a Purple Martin (fewer than five seen from the yard each year!), and a possible Bank (would be possibly first for yard!). Chimney Swifts were also very present.

In other news, I saw my first Common Nighthawk of the season tonight, though it was not heading South.

The radar looks fairly good tonight, and the daily high temperature is forecast to drop 10 degrees (F) or so between Wednesday and Thursday.

Perhaps I will have a report concerning tomorrow's partial solar eclipse.
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Old Tuesday 22nd August 2017, 22:24   #5
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Partial Solar Eclipse

Finally I have an update, this time not on bird migration, but I wanted to share pictures of the partial solar eclipse that occurred yesterday. The pictures mostly speak for themselves. I observed the eclipse with my spotting scope and a paper plate (no eclipse glasses needed!) The one main thing that I am adding is that during the furthest extent of the eclipse (about 70-75%!), it actually was a bit dimmer than usual. I did not observe any bird behavior that I thought unusual.

Tonight a cold front is supposed to move through, providing cooler temperatures and Northwest winds. Bring on the birds!
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Old Wednesday 23rd August 2017, 14:08   #6
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I went outside a little before 6:00 AM this morning. It was cloudy and still, with very few birds (locals) at first. For the next half hour or so it remained cloudy with occasional sprinkles. Finally, the low clouds began to quickly blow south, and with them came the birds.

Highlights and migrants included 2 Caspian Terns (probably first for the yard!), around 15 Cedar Waxwings, at least 2 Bobolinks, and some American Robins, swallow sp, 1 falcon sp, and 1 shorebird sp.
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Old Wednesday 23rd August 2017, 22:00   #7
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A Few More From Today

I conducted two more counts today, but only the first one produced obvious migrants.

More migrants included 1 Red-tailed Hawk, 2 Broad-winged Hawks, 1 Bald Eagle, and 13 Double-crested Cormorants.

Tomorrow looks like it will be decent as well, though perhaps not as good as today.
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Old Thursday 24th August 2017, 14:51   #8
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Another Good Morning

I was out a little after 6:00 AM this morning after radar showed a very good night last night. There still is not a large variety of morning migrants yet, but numbers are building.

Highlights from the morning included around 115 Cedar Waxwings, 36 American Robins, and 3 unidentified warblers (two were yellow underneath, not American Redstarts, one looked like a waterthrush, likely Northern).

The weather forecast is calling for light north/northwest winds at least through Saturday, and temperatures under 80F for at least the next 7 days. Looks good!
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Old Friday 25th August 2017, 13:59   #9
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This morning brought more migrants, including about 130 Cedar Waxwings, 5 warbler sp, and a Bobolink. At least one of three flickers observed may have been migrating as well.
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Old Friday 25th August 2017, 21:18   #10
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Not much of note this afternoon. The only migrants noted were 1 Osprey, 3 swallow sp, and possibly a Chimney Swift.

Still a bit early for good raptor migration over the yard.
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Old Saturday 26th August 2017, 19:42   #11
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A Very Good Warbler Morning

This morning found me in Peace Valley Park, a somewhat local park that I enjoy going to during migration. It did not disappoint, with at least 8 or 9 warbler species and some added bonuses.

Migrants and/or highlights included 4 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, 3 Empidonax flycatchers, 2 Red-eyed Vireos, 1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, 1 Wood Thrush, 36 Gray Catbirds (likely mix of migrants and locals), 5 Black-and-white Warblers, 3 Common Yellowthroats, 3 American Redstarts, 1 Cape May Warbler, 2 Magnolia Warblers, 1 Bay-breasted Warbler (probable and a lifer if confirmed!), 4 Chestnut-sided Warblers, 1 Blackpoll Warbler, 1 Black-throated Green Warbler, and 1 Baltimore Oriole.

Overall, a very pleasant morning with good bird action.
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Old Sunday 27th August 2017, 19:44   #12
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Not too much this morning over the yard, but a warbler (likely Magnolia) and a Scarlet Tanager briefly dropped in across the street.

Weather forecast does not look great until Thursday night and Friday, so my posts might decrease in frequency until then. :)
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Old Monday 28th August 2017, 14:07   #13
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Another quiet morning. The only obvious migrants were two warbler sp, a few Chimney Swifts and swallows, one Indigo Bunting, and one Bobolink.

The forecast has changed a bit. Rain is forecast for Tuesday/Tuesday night and Wednesday's forecast is for N/NNW winds 7-9 mph. That should be good!
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Old Thursday 31st August 2017, 02:14   #14
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A Day At Hawk Mountain

Today I was fortunate enough to spend the day (7:30 AM to 5 PM) at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton, Pennsylvania. It is a place I always enjoy going to and usually come away with good birds. Today did not disappoint.

Not long after leaving the parking lot I heard an Eastern Wood-pewee. Pileated Woodpeckers called along the trail to the North Lookout, where the annual hawk migration count is going on.

North Lookout is where the vast majority of today's birds were recorded. As soon as I got there, I picked out a Blackburnian Warbler from a fast-moving mixed flock. For the next hour or so, I enjoyed a nice passerine show. Bobolink and probable Veery were heard only. Other warblers included Black-throated Green (3+) and Black-throated Blue (1 very close female). Scarlet Tanager (3+), Rose-breasted Grosbeak (1), Red-eyed Vireo (1), and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird were also enjoyed in the early morning.

Throughout the day I enjoyed such birds as Cedar Waxwings (98), Chimney Swifts, a Double-crested Cormorant, 11 more hummingbirds, 10+ American Goldfinches, and a good mix of swallows, including Bank, Barn, Tree, and Cliff.

The raptor count was only 25 birds (still early in the season), all of which I was able to see. There were Osprey (3), Bald Eagles (4), a Sharp-shinned Hawk, Broad-winged Hawks (11), an unidentified Buteo, a Red-tailed Hawk, a Northern Harrier, a Peregrine Falcon, and American Kestrels (2). One of the kestrels, the Peregrine, and the harrier (a gorgeous male!) all dove at the owl decoy that is mounted for that purpose. :)

Right before leaving, I saw a Northern Parula and two Common Nighthawks in the parking lot.

All in all, a great day to be outside with the birds!
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Old Thursday 31st August 2017, 22:02   #15
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An average to quiet morning this morning, but still some birds to see.

Migrants/highlights included Cedar Waxwing (about 115), a distant shorebird flock (about 20), a Belted Kingfisher, a nice low Merlin, more warbler sp (3), and a few swallows and swifts.

Tomorrow looks good, so I should have a report then.
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Old Friday 1st September 2017, 22:09   #16
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Unofficially Two "Lifers"

Today I was able to make it up to Hawk Mountain again, though not for the whole day this time.

There were many highlights/migrants.

As soon as I got out of the car, I could hear warblers overhead. A few minutes later, while on the trail, I encountered a feeding flock. This included singles of Red-eyed Vireo, American Redstart, probable Bay-breasted Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, and Blackburnian Warbler.

Up at the North Lookout and vicinity, warblers included Blackburnian (1), Cape May (3+), Black-throated Green (1), Black-throated Blue (1), American Redstart (1), and either a Mourning or Connecticut Warbler, either of which would be a lifer. Other migrating non-raptors included Scarlet Tanager (3+), Red-eyed Vireo (1), Ruby-throated Hummingbird (1), Bobolink (2+), Cedar Waxwing (50+), Northern Flicker (1+), a few swallows (including Bank, Barn, and Cliff) and Chimney Swifts, and several American Goldfinches. The non-raptor highlight came in the form of an Olive-sided Flycatcher, which was a lifer and good looks were thoroughly enjoyed!

Raptor-wise, things are beginning to pick up with Broad-winged Hawks (20+). Other migrant raptors included Bald Eagle (4), Red-tailed hawk (1), American Kestrel (2), falcon sp (1), and Sharp-shinned Hawk (2).

On the trail back, the highlight was an Ovenbird.

Another great day of fall migration!
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Old Monday 4th September 2017, 02:20   #17
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Two "Lifers" In Two Days!

After seeing my lifer Olive-sided Flycatcher two days ago, I was quite happy. This was my first lifer since a trip to Greece in May. Little did I know that I would get another lifer yesterday!

I ended up having one of my best warbler experiences ever yesterday. I saw 50+ individuals of 11+ species. It probably ranks as my third-best warbler day in terms of numbers (behind an all-day census in May and the morning flight in Cape May).

I arrived at Peace Valley Park a little after noon. Within a few minutes of setting out I had my first feeding flock, which pretty much describes the outing. At one point I watched 1 Blackpoll/Bay-breasted Warbler, 1 Blackpoll Warbler, 3 American Redstarts, 2 Chestnut-sided Warblers, 2 Black-and-white Warblers, and I think 1 Magnolia Warbler all in a few minutes' time in a space of a few square feet!

The biggest highlight of the day was seeing my lifer Mourning Warbler, a young female, in a bush less than 10 feet away!

Here are the migrants/highlights: Yellow-billed Cuckoo (1), Ruby-throated Hummingbird (2), Eastern Wood-pewee (1), Alder/Willow Flycatcher (1), flycatcher sp (3), Red-eyed Vireo (1), Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (2), Wood Thrush (3), American Robin (20+), Gray Catbird (25+), Black-and-white Warbler (7), Mourning Warbler (1), Common Yellowthroat (6), American Redstart (8), Cape May Warbler (1), Magnolia Warbler (9), Blackburnian Warbler (4), Chestnut-sided Warbler (4), Blackpoll Warbler (1), Blackpoll/Bay-breasted Warbler (1), Black-throated Blue Warbler (2), Black-throated Green Warbler (2), and warbler sp (6+).

On a different note, I am looking for feedback on how my posts should be organized. Is the current format good, or would you prefer a more vertical list (as in my first post), or perhaps all species in bold type?
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Old Thursday 7th September 2017, 19:58   #18
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I think I would have a lot more to report if I wasn't so busy! After a long day of rain yesterday, today is partly sunny with west winds.

I have not looked as much as I would have liked to, but during the limited time I did look outside my window, migrants included Northern Harrier (1), Osprey (1), Broad-winged Hawk (1), Ruby-throated Hummingbird (6), warbler sp (1), and swallow sp (26). I imagine hawkwatches nearby will have a good day.
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Old Saturday 9th September 2017, 02:22   #19
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Another Day At Hawk Mountain

Today I felt I needed a break from being so busy. A trip to Hawk Mountain was in order. I arrived at the parking lot at about 7:00 AM. What followed was a dynamite day for warblers and other passerines, but a bit slow on the raptor front.

Less than a third of the way up to the North Lookout, I stopped at a small overlook after hearing warbler calls. I was treated to a spectacle: over a half hour or so (I lost track of time!), a mixed flock of warblers, tanagers, and grosbeaks slowly worked their way through the vegetation at the overlook. Many of them were within 50 feet of me, some within 20 feet, and as one group moved out another would move in.

Here are approximate totals: Blackburnian Warbler (20+), Black-throated Green Warbler (10+), Black-throated Blue Warbler (2), Tennessee Warbler (2), Nashville Warbler (1), Chestnut-sided Warbler (1), Black-and-white Warbler (3), American Redstart (3), Blackpoll Warbler (2), Blackpoll/Bay-breasted Warbler (1+), Magnolia Warbler (1), Cape May Warbler (2), Red-eyed Vireo (3+), Warbling/Philadelphia Vireo (1), Ruby-throated Hummingbird (1, came up to about 1 foot away, I could actually hear it buzzing in my ear!), Scarlet Tanager (4), Rose-breasted Grosbeak (4), Great Crested Flycatcher (1), Chimney Swift (5).

At or near the North Lookout, I had much the same variety and quantity of songbirds, with these additions: Yellow-throated Vireo (2), Eastern Wood-pewee (1), Empidonax sp (1-2), Olive-sided Flycatcher (1, poor photo), several flocks of Cedar Waxwings, and good variety and numbers of swallows and Chimney Swifts.

Raptor-wise, here are the official numbers for today's Hawk Mountain count, almost all of which I saw: Osprey (11), Bald Eagle (2), Northern Harrier (2, I saw one), Sharp-shinned hawk (6), Cooper's Hawk (2, I saw one), Broad-winged hawk (14), Red-tailed Hawk (3, I saw at least two), American Kestrel (1).

The highlight of the day came at the end, however. After coming down from the North Lookout, while approaching the visitor center, the person who I was with suggested a stop in Hawk Mountain's Native Plant Garden. Said person then suggested that I go directly to the garden's bird blind, which did not disappoint! Here I saw a small feeding flock of warblers (1 Tennessee, 1 Nashville, 1 Magnolia, 1 Black-and-white, 1 warbler sp) and a lone Red-eyed Vireo. In the flock was a "Brewster's" Blue-winged X Golden-winged Warbler hybrid! This was a "half-lifer", as I have seen Blue-winged before but never Golden-winged. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture, but I did provide a description afterwards.

Overall, another fantastic day at Hawk Mountain amidst fall migration!
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Old Saturday 9th September 2017, 22:35   #20
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A 1-hour watch from my yard this afternoon brought a few migrants in the form of Broad-winged Hawk (2), Red-tailed Hawk (1), Ruby-throated Hummingbird (1), and Monarch butterfly (5).
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Old Tuesday 12th September 2017, 02:40   #21
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I watched from my yard again, this time for two hours in the afternoon. Broad-winged Hawk numbers are picking up, as evidenced by Hawk Mountain's daily totals for yesterday and today (577 and 367, respectively, mostly Broadwings). My totals were much more modest, but here they are anyway: Northern Harrier (1), Accipiter sp (2), Bald Eagle (1), Broad-winged Hawk (26, including one adult dove down to roost across the street!), Red-tailed Hawk (1), American Kestrel (1), falcon sp (1), and raptor sp (5). Many birds were very high up.

Also noted were Ruby-throated Hummingbird (2), Monarch butterfly (1), and decent numbers of dragonflies.
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Old Wednesday 13th September 2017, 21:18   #22
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Yesterday, mostly during small chunks of time in the morning and afternoon, I observed the following migrants: Northern Harrier (1), accipiter sp (1), Broad-winged Hawk (2), American Kestrel (1), Cedar Waxwing (50+), warbler sp (2+), Indigo Bunting (1), and Bobolink (1).

Tomorrow is forecast to have rain, likely associated with hurricane Irma. If I have time, I might check my local reservoir for goodies during the rain, but I rather doubt there will be any.
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Old Wednesday 20th September 2017, 01:47   #23
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A Brief Summary Of Recent Days

Hello all,

I have been much busier than desired, but couldn't resist going to see the wonderful migration of Broad-winged Hawks. As a result, a good chunk of four of the past five days has been spent on a hawkwatch. I will give brief summaries for those, as well as some non-raptor notes.

A day at Hawk Mountain last Friday brought a decent number of migrating Broad-winged Hawks (300+), with a few other species in smaller numbers. That day was good for passerines, too, as I saw my lifer Red-headed Woodpecker (!) and some Swainson's Thrushes and warblers.

Next, I went to Waggoner's Gap hawkwatch last Sunday while on a small trip to the middle of Pennsylvania (as a side note, I saw my second ever confirmed Mourning Warbler and my second ever Lincoln's Sparrow). It was fairly productive, with 70+ Sharp-shinned Hawks, a few Osprey, a Bald Eagle, a Red-tailed Hawk, and a few hundred Broad-winged Hawks. When I got back that night, I found out that I had missed over 4,000 Broad-winged Hawks at Hawk Mountain that day!

Yesterday, I went to Hawk Mountain for the day. The lookout was socked in with fog until about 11 AM, but I heard a Swainson's Thrush through the fog and saw a few passerines, including Red-eyed Vireo (2+), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (2), Magnolia Warbler (1), Cape May Warbler (2+), Chestnut-sided Warbler (1), Black-throated Green Warbler (2+), and Northern Parula (1). The raptor flight was impressive. As soon as the fog lifted, a few Sharp-shinned and Broad-winged Hawks appeared. Then, a kettle of about 30 Broad-wings was spotted. Then, two nearby kettles produced about 450 birds between both kettles! Things quieted down until about 4:30 PM. Distant kettles of 50-100+ Broad-wings were spotted, culminating in small groups sailing past the lookout just above eye level! The final raptor count for the day was about 1,300, I think.

Finally, I got to Hawk Mountain again today. Since I got there after noon, passerines were few and far between. I found out that I had missed about 700 Broad-winged Hawks that morning. However, several nice kettles and small groups were seen as the day progressed, adding at least 800-900 Broad-wings over the course of the day. There were also Sharp-shinned Hawks (31, not all of which I saw), Cooper's Hawks (5+), Osprey (2-3+), American Kestrels (3+), and a Red-tailed Hawk or two. I suspect the majority of the Broad-wing migration is over. Hawk Mountain did well, though, as they now have over 10,000 for the season so far!

The forecast looks very good for nocturnal migration, so I might get up very early tomorrow and listen for flight calls.
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Old Tuesday 26th September 2017, 15:10   #24
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Not much to report. Yesterday's migrant highlights included one American Kestrel over the yard and a flock of several hundred blackbird sp.

A flight call listening session was fairly quiet a few days ago, with a few warbler sp and 1 probable Gray-cheeked Thrush (would be first of fall for me).

Temperatures are unseasonably high at the moment, with highs above 80 degrees F (27+ C). However, a cold front is forecast to move through on Thursday, bringing temperatures in the 60s (16+ C) and excellent conditions for migrants!

Last edited by birdmeister : Tuesday 26th September 2017 at 15:27.
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Old Thursday 28th September 2017, 02:15   #25
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Another Day At Hawk Mountain

Hello all,

I spent the day on Hawk Mountain again. Although the conditions were not good for migrating raptors (and it was hot!), we still saw a few. The songbird flight was a bit of a pleasant surprise.

Here is the official raptor count for the day, almost all of which I saw: Osprey (8), Bald Eagle (2), Sharp-shinned Hawk (12), Cooper's Hawk (2), Red-shouldered Hawk (2), Broad-winged Hawk (4), Red-tailed Hawk (1), American kestrel (1), and Peregrine Falcon (1).

Non-raptor migrants and/or highlights at North Lookout included Chimney Swift (130+), Cedar Waxwing (160+), swallow sp (40+), Tree Swallow (10+, I think), Red-headed Woodpecker (1, my second ever!), Northern Flicker (5+), Northern Mockingbird (1), American Robin (20+), Swainson's/Gray-cheeked Thrush (1), Rose-breasted Grosbeak (1-2), Scarlet Tanager (3+), Bobolink (1, heard only), Indigo Bunting (3), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (11, I think), Tennessee Warbler (1), Northern Parula (2-3), Cape May Warbler (31), Black-throated Blue Warbler (1), Yellow-rumped Warbler (1-2+, first of fall for me), Black-throated Green Warbler (1-2), Blackburnian Warbler (2), Blackpoll Warbler (1), and warbler sp (25+).

I might have missed something... :)

Tomorrow's forecast looks very good for migration, with NNW winds at about 15 mph (24 km/h).
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