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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hawk update

Broad-winged Hawk, juvenile

Here's a photo of a juvenile Broad-winged Hawk I took yesterday. Note the paler, squarish, lighter panels on the wings. In flight, with light from behind, the outer wing has a pale panel encompassing all of the primaries. This is a helpful ID clue, but not to be confused with a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk, who, in flight, has a pale crescent at the base of the outer primaries.

It's been a strange hawk watch on Pack Monadnock so far. We have had relativly low numbers of hawks, especially Broad-winged Hawks, who migrate in large numbers this time of year. We have seen Broadwings migrating singly, or in small groups of twos and threes, with practically no real kettles, just a few of about eight to ten birds. Ordinarily, you would think that means Broadwings are just not migrating yet. Then you look at the numbers from other major active hawk watch sites nearby. South and slightly Southeast of Pack, lie, first, Mt. Watatic, then, south of that, Mt. Wachusett. Both are fairly close to Pack, Wachusett is about an hours drive.

Here are the numbers for the last two days.

New Hampshire
Pack Monadnock Raptor Migration Observatory, Peterborough, NH
9/14, 315 total hawks, 257 were Broadwings
9/15, 334 total hawks, 273 Broadwings

Mt. Watatic, Ashburnham, MA
9/14, 526 total hawks, 472 Broadwings
9/15, 836 total hawks, 774 Broadwings

Mt. Wachusett, Princeton, MA
9/14, 1282 total hawks, 1231 Broadwings
9/15, 2348 total hawks, 2260 Broadwings

Putney Mt., Putney VT
9/14, 712 total hawks, 627 Broadwings
9/15, 284 total hawks, 240 Broadwings

So how could Pack see so few Broadwings, 273, and Wachusett, nearby, have a large flight of 2,260 the same day? There are no good answers. And it is not unusual, during a hawk watch season, for one of the three mountains (Pack, Wachusett and Watatic) to have a bigger flight, by thousands of birds, than the other sites. Pack had seemingly good conditions, and a number of good observers, yesterday. Frustratingly, (I'm trying not to whine here) we just did not have many birds. We did have fun people and close looks at some hawks, but no big kettles of Broadwings, which I really like.

The weather has been screwy, with changing forecasts. Today is quite heavy cloud cover here, with possibility of rain, and fairly strong winds, but a few hints of blue to the north. Tonight temps are supposed to drop into the 40's, then clearing tomorrow with ENE 9mph winds. Maybe more hawks will decide to move, maybe even over Pack.


Donald Verger said...

Hi Don and Lilian
if u get this- is major flight done
or might tomorrow Friday 24 at wachusetts
be good? We are in Portland

Thanks. Don and Lois

Lillian Stokes said...

Even though the major flights of Broad-winged Hawks have passed, some are still migrating in smaller numbers. Mostly, if you go hawkwatching now, you will get flights of accipiters, falcons, osprey, and eagles. Still worth it to go hawkwating even into Nov. when they get Golden Eagles.

Donald Verger said...

Yes. Thanks very much. Don