Thursday, April 29, 2010

High Flying Loons

In April, we regularly see small groups of Common Loons flying very high over College Creek Hawkwatch, typically heading northeast. This bird was hundreds of feet up, but with a 10x camera, the detail is still pretty good...the white collar of breeding plumage is even slightly visible. This was 2 days ago when 17 flew by.

Brian Taber

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Common Raven!

Yesterday, I saw a Common Raven soaring over a shopping center with Turkey Vultures, then it "dive-bombed" a Turkey Vulture, here in James City County, near Williamsburg. Other birds soaring nearby, also apparently enjoying thermal updrafts from the buildings and parking lot, were an Osprey, a Red-tailed Hawk, a Cooper's Hawk and a Broad-winged Hawk. The only other local area records for Common Raven are 1996 and 1949, both in York County. Common Ravens have been reported recently near Richmond and in Halifax County, southwest of here, near the North Carolina border.

Brian Taber

Saturday, April 17, 2010

White Pelicans at College Creek Hawkwatch

Six American White Pelicans were seen circling over Hog Island, from the hawkwatch, at about 1 p.m. today, April 17th...those dark dots are them...1 1/2 to 2 miles away! Also...a little better picture of the one at Craney Island, Portsmouth, week before last.

Brian Taber

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Peregrines in Love

This was taken last week by Observatory Treasurer and Raptor Team co-leader, Robert Klages, at the Armada Hoffler building at Town Center, Virginia Beach.

Brian Taber

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Today, April 7, 2010, College Creek Hawkwatch participated in the "Spring Raptorthon," an event sponsored by the Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA), to raise funds and also awareness, of the need for raptor conservation. We send our hawkwatch data daily to the HMANA electronic database at HMANA also publishes periodic reports on the status of raptors across the continent, using such data. It is a great organization.

The Observatory is sending a donation to HMANA for the Raptorthon and we are also asking those of you who are concerned about raptor conservation to send a donation on behalf of our efforts today. If you would like to help, please send a check, in any amount, made payable to HMANA, to me at 103 Exeter Court, Williamsburg, Virginia 23185, by April 20, 2010.

Thanks for your support of our raptors!

As for our day today...temperatures were near record highs, in the 90s F. and the skies were very hazy across the river... but we managed 5 species...6 Turkey Vultures, 2 Ospreys, 2 Bald Eagles, a Northern Harrier and an American Kestrel. The extreme heat is expected to break tomorrow night and we expect the good hawk flights to resume with a new weather system!

Pictured are Bill Williams and Shirley Devan, wearing Observatory gear!
Brian Taber

Monday, April 5, 2010

1,000th Bird at College Creek

Our 2nd Merlin of the College Creek Hawkwatch season just missed being the 1,000th bird of the season, which was...not surprisingly...a Turkey Vulture. Bill Williams had just left and so missed the champagne celebration! The sky was very hazy and the flight was modest...12 Turkey Vultures, 4 Ospreys, 2 Northern Harriers, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, an American Kestrel and a Merlin.

We always track the date of the 1,000th bird to see how the migration season is progressing. That date for 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005 was April 13th, May 13th (latest), April 2nd (earliest), April 11th and April 19th we are ahead of the usual pace.

Brian Taber

Friday, April 2, 2010

Tagged Vulture and Pine Elfin

There were two unusual observations at College Creek Hawkwatch today. This tagged Black Vulture was nearby, along the river, feasting on a snapping turtle...we'll try to find out more about it...and...a seldom-seen, very small, very early season butterfly, an Eastern Pine Elfin, appeared right at our feet.

And, though quite distant, a bird that was likely a Boat-tailed Grackle, crossed the river headed north. Last May, we recorded our first of that species and wondered if they are pioneering in our area.

Brian Taber

Thursday, April 1, 2010

No Foolin!

April Fool's Day turned out to be an excellent flight day...the 3rd best daily total in our 14 seasons....139. Light southeast winds and temperatures over 70 F pushed 30 Ospreys, 6 Black Vultures, 2 Bald Eagles, 5 Northern Harriers, 3 Red-tailed Hawks, 3 American Kestrels, a Cooper's Hawk and 89 Turkey Vultures across the river and mostly right overhead! The flight lasted about 3 hours.

We also saw our first Caspian Tern of the season and heard our first Yellow-throated Warbler today. Hundreds of Double-crested Cormorants and Tree Swallows were also moving north.

I don't know which old ship this is....but it was headed upriver past us toward Jamestown.

Brian Taber