Sunday, May 3, 2009

Decent early May day

Sunday was a pretty decent early May Whitefish Point hawk watching day, with broadwing numbers still increasing, and the highest day count for Peregrine Falcon yet. Golden Eagles again put in a good showing, with at least 5 counted. That too is a day high count for this species, but it was reached three times earlier this season: twice in March (18th and 30th) and once in April (23rd).

As I've said before, on days like this when the winds aren't exactly favorable, it is not easy sorting out just how many Golden Eagles there are in the area, and what part of that number is really moving through, and what is there on multiple days. Golden Eagles were seen throughout the afternoon, flying out to the Point, sometimes past the Point, and very often returning. At least 4 of them were seen in the air at the same time, all juveniles. (The adult Golden Eagle flight is essentially over, they should really be on territory by now.) In the last hour of the count, a young Golden Eagle was seen flying at some altitude in a straight line toward and beyond the Point, with a Rough-legged Hawk in tow. I watched them until they were dots, and they were not seen returning. Now if this was a bird that had tried many times earlier today and this time finally made it, or whether this was a new, gutsy individual that went on the first try... who can say for sure?

Most Broad-winged and Red-tailed Hawks also mill around, very afraid of all that water between Whitefish Point and Ontario. There were small kettles of broadwings around for much of the day, but I didn't see any leave the Point for Canada, although some of them probably did.

The total count today reached 535, and included 11 Turkey Vultures, 4 Bald Eagles, 5 Northern Harriers, 135 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 1 Cooper's Hawk, 3 Northern Goshawks, 307 Broad-winged Hawks, 26 Red-tailed Hawks, 18 Rough-legged Hawks, 5 Golden Eagles, 13 American Kestrels, 1 Merlin, 4 Peregrine Falcons, and two unidentified (distant) buteos.

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