Monday, October 15, 2007

Specktacular Birding

Thanks to David Ringer of Search and Serendipity for correctly identifying my mystery plant as a Crinum lily. Not a triffid. There's someone with an answer for every question. Isn't the web great?This photo was taken yesterday morning at the Smith Point Hawk Watch. Check out the many tiny specks. A few of the larger ones are vultures, but the majority are Broad-winged Hawks. If you enlarge the image you'll find that there are almost 200 of these specks. And this is just part of a much larger kettle - when the picture was taken I counted about 700 hawks in a single sweep of the horizon!

I was at Smith Point not to count hawks but to do the 'Big Sit.' I had help from the hawk watchers there, and when I left at about 2pm we had tallied 52 species. Not bad. Could have done better. I really thought there would be more passerines, and I probably would have added a few more species if I'd been able to stay longer. But it was fun, and at least got me out of the house for a while.

Most of the action was in the morning. As the air warmed kettles of hawks began rising from the treeline to the northeast, and soon the sky was full of swirling specks. It was a bit surprising to witness a major flight of Broad-wings so late in the season, but hardly unprecedented. We also saw good numbers of Northern Harriers, Sharp-shinned Hawks, and American Kestrels. The only other buteos were the resident Red-shouldered Hawks.An Osprey made a close pass by the tower.

Didn't really see anything unusual during the sit. A few Magnificent Frigatebirds were still lingering in the area, and getting a Crested Caracara was nice. The only shorebirds were a pair of American Oystercatchers over the bay and a flock of unidentified peeps in a distant marsh (not counted in the final total). Gulls and terns also disappointed with low numbers and a lack of variety. A medium size alligator was spotted in the little pond nearby.

It's seldom noticed, and maybe I'm the only one who finds it interesting, but HUGE numbers of swallows pass the observation tower at Smith Point in fall. They aren't as charismatic as raptors, but in sheer numbers they greatly surpass them. So why doesn't this migration event receive more attention? Northern Rough-winged Swallow was probably the most abundant bird species at Smith Point on Sunday, but I don't think anyone was counting them.This big spider made its web between the beams of the tower.


At 5:05 AM, Blogger Larry said...

It sounds like you had a pretty good day! Nice photos , and you are able to click to enlarge them all.-Is there a secret to this? Often only the first photo that I upload can be enlarge by clicking.-thanks

At 9:28 AM, Blogger John said...

There may be a secret, but it's a secret to me too. All I do is set the photos to medium size when I upload them. Back when I was posting scanned photographs they didn't enlarge either, now that I'm using images straight from a 5 megapixel digital camera they do enlarge..possibly that has something to do with it...

At 5:41 PM, Blogger Larry said...

Thanks-I think I've finally found out what the problem is.-If you drag and drop pics-it causes a problem with the click to enlarge.-I think you have to cut and paste in html-which may be a challenge for me.


Post a Comment

<< Home