web analytics

Boothe Park Hawk Watch 9/12 – 182 migrant raptors

Posted on Sep 13, 2014

We had a decent day at the Boothe Park Hawk Watch in Stratford, Connecticut yesterday, considering the deep blue sky in control, as we tallied 182 migrant raptors filling in the 9:30-4:30 time frame. Having no clouds in the sky makes it very difficult to spot hawks, eagles, falcons, vultures and so forth flying at altitudes in the thousands of feet. Light clouds, especially cirrus, provide a helpful backdrop to view them on without obscuring any or dumping precipitation which would stop the birds from moving south.

Boothe Park clocktower 0120

The Boothe Park clock tower with the “golden eagle” at the top showing perfect winds out of the northwest. This was as cloudy as it got!

In essence many migrants likely flew by right over our heads that we could literally not see. As an example of what we could see here’s a very low (ha ha, I know) American Kestrel seen through a realistic view at 35mm. Birds like this are “easy” (ha ha again) to find and identify in comparison to the others several thousand feet up.

American Kestrel overhead Boothe Park 0137

Can you tell that is an American Kestrel? The wing shape, very pointed, general size – difficult to tell in photo but small – and the rufous/orange tail all immediately help point you in that direction.

Apart from the migrants we had well over 12 “local” Bald Eagle, 5 Black Vulture and 1 Peregrine Falcon along with good numbers of Osprey, Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk and so forth. The Bald Eagles provided a great show for much of the day with birds locking talons, feeding and soaring all around us.

Bill Frank Tom Boothe Park 0108

Hawk watch experts/friends/volunteers Bill, Frank and Tom all engaged in identifying raptors. We have many Boothe Park visitors of all ages approach us on these gorgeous days to inquire about what we are doing allowing for a lot of outreach and avian education.

We had 11 migrant Ruby-throated Hummingbird and 26 migrant Chimney Swift. There were thousands of Common Green Darners – dragonflies – moving plus dozens of Black Saddlebags and a few Wandering and Spot-winged Gliders. I saw a grand total of 1 Monarch butterfly heading south. In past years we have seen dozens or even hundreds in a day at this time of year to the degree where we didn’t even bother counting them and they frequently fooled us into thinking they were distant raptors.

Here are the migrant hawk totals:
Turkey Vulture 1
Osprey 28
Bald Eagle 20
Northern Harrier 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 30
Cooper’s Hawk 5
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Broad-winged Hawk 73
Red-tailed Hawk 3
American Kestrel 13
Merlin 3
Unidentified accipiter 1
Unidentified raptor 3

Even with the sky it seems like the Broad-wings, which peak in the thousands in mid-September, need a little more time to make it down our way. We’re a few days ahead of that peak and the weather has been uncooperative meaning many may be a bit delayed to our north and west. Hopefully even on Sunday, after the passage of a weak frontal system and a briefly well positioned high giving us northwest winds conducive to movement, we will have a good day of raptor migration. More clouds, please!

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator