Wednesday, March 31, 2010

College Creek Hawkwatch March Total

In typical March fashion, the flights and weather were wildly up-and-down. After an excellent start to the month, the last 7 days saw only 80 birds tallied...64 of those today, on March 31st! The March total of 643 compares to March totals of 690, 495 and 730 for 2009, 2008 and 2007 respectively.

The season total of 786 is a little ahead of the usual pace.

Today, we saw 2 Northern Harriers, 2 American Kestrels and 8 Ospreys, in addition to the 52 Turkey Vultures that struggled across the river in the strong northwest wind. The wind is forecast to be much less tomorrow, with temperatures near 80 F. so a strong flight is predicted.

We also saw our first Purple Martin cross the river today.

Brian Taber

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wasp Nests and GPS

Gary Driscole and I canoed and hiked Dragon Run today, in King and Queen County, cleaning wasp nests from Prothonotary Warbler nest boxes, adding a box and re-locating some others. Gary also set the GPS points for all 11 boxes. Last season, 6 of the 10 boxes hosted Prothonotaries.

The project is a joint effort of the Observatory, Friends of Dragon Run and the Historic Rivers Chapter of Master Naturalists. For more information about the pristine river, there is a Friends of Dragon Run link on the links section of this website.

Brian Taber

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Red-shouldereds and Rough-wingeds at College Creek Hawkwatch

Fred Blystone and Alice and Sig Kopinitz (photo) were on hand today at the College Creek Hawkwatch for our first Red-shouldered Hawks of the season....two immature birds only one minute apart....low and right overhead! The species breeds around here, but we usually also see a few crossing the river in migration each season at the hawkwatch...totals for the past 6 years are only 1, 3, 6, 6, 2 and 5, so it's always exciting.

The weather was warm and the flight was decent...45 birds of 7 species.

We also saw our first Northern Rough-winged Swallows today.

Brian Taber

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cooper's Hawks at College Creek Hawkwatch

Yesterday, March 9th, we recorded our first Cooper's Hawks of the season, with 2 birds...and today we broke our daily record for Cooper's with 8 more. The record had been 7. Another Cooper's was sitting in a tree near the hawkwatch when I arrived and so not counted, since it wasn't seen crossing the river. They are clearly on the move in this area. As a comparison, our entire season totals for Cooper's over 13 previous seasons has ranged from 2-41, though the second highest was only 25. Totals for 2008 and 2009 were 9 and 13 respectively.

Today's flight was very exciting, with 60 of the 71 birds coming in less than one hour, as the sun broke through heavy overcast. It clouded up again and the flight ended as abruptly as it started.

Today's totals: 52 Turkey Vultures, 2 Ospreys, 3 Bald Eagles, 1 Northern Harrier, 4 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 8 Cooper's Hawks and a Red-tailed Hawk.

Seven species is good diversity for the early season.

Thanks to Shirley Devan today for her help in finding birds!

Last evening, waterfowl migration was heavy, too, with 1,000+ Canada Geese and 100+ Tundra Swans over my yard here in Williamsburg at dusk.

Also, at the hawkwatch today was an early Royal Tern.

Brian Taber

Monday, March 8, 2010

Good Day at College Creek Hawkwatch

There are few 100+ bird days at the hawkwatch, so today's 95 was very good, especially for the early season: 4 Black Vultures, 78 Turkey Vultures, 1 Osprey, 1 Bald Eagle, 4 Sharp-shinned Hawks and 7 Red-tailed Hawks...the daily Red-tailed record is 9.

Recent bright sun and moderate winds have produced excellent conditions for migration. Over the past several days, we have seen Tundra Swans, Northern Pintails, Bonaparte's Gulls, Forster's Terns, Tree Swallows, Greater Yellowlegs, Fish Crows, lots of blackbird and gull flocks....and our first butterfly today, a Sleepy Orange.

The March total is 210 with only 5 days of coverage...the season total is 353.

Brian Taber

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Glaucous Gull

This gorgeous 2nd winter Glaucous Gull was on the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth today, at a location not open to the public.

Brian Taber

Monday, March 1, 2010

College Creek Hawkwatch Underway

The 14th consecutive season of the hawkwatch began on February 12th. This is the only regular late winter/spring hawkwatch in Virginia. It's located on the Colonial Parkway, on the James River, 3 miles southeast of Williamsburg. Birds are counted as they cross the river. The February total of 138 on 9 days of coverage is pretty typical for the early season.....125 Turkey Vultures, 3 Black Vultures, 3 Bald Eagles, 6 Red-tailed Hawks and an early American Kestrel. Bald Eagles are seen daily, though usually fishing and are not counted unless they display migratory behavior. The weather has included high winds and snow. March will see better weather, many more birds and greater species diversity.

We usually find our first Osprey in the last 10 days of February, but didn't this year.

Results will be posted on the site and regular updates will appear on this Blog and on the VA List Serve.

Vistors are welcome. Please contact me for more information about the site.

Brian Taber