Monday, September 30, 2013

Amazing Days

At the Kiptopeke Hawkwatch, we are continuing to have large flights of Sharp-Shinned Hawks, American Kestrels, and Merlins. In the past 4 days there have been over 2500 birds counted from the hawk watch providing for fantastic views of numerous raptors, like the Peregrine Falcon below.

Stunning image of an immature Peregrine Falcon taken last Saturday at Kiptopeke by Steve Thornhill

Saturday, September 28, 2013

It's Raining Falcons

It has been raining falcons at the Kiptopeke Hawkwatch!  Merlins were zipping by the platform yesterday at a rate of close to one Merlin/minute. The grand total for falcons yesterday was 230 Merlins! Today, the falcons continued to fill the skies with a new season daily high count of 123 American Kestrels. New season high counts for falcons will continue to be set within the next couple of weeks. Stop by the platform later in the afternoon for a chance to witness an amazing falcon flight.

A Merlin passing the Kiptopeke hawk platform taken  yesterday by Steve Kolbe

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Migration Update

The raptor migration is picking up with an average of 100+ birds a day.  The falcons are the current stars of the show and the best time to view these flights is from 3pm to sunset.  Other noteworthy flights taking place currently are morning flights of Northern Flickers and Blue Jays.

The monarchs are also becoming more abundant with over 30 spotted and 12 tagged yesterday.

The hawk banding station is averaging 5-10 raptors daily. The majority of the birds being captured at this time are Sharp-Shinned Hawks and Coopers Hawks.

Also, a reminder that there is an educational program on the migration and CVWO's programs held at 10 A.M. and 2 P.M.on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the pavilion near the hawk watch platform.


A Merlin in the hawk banding station

A juvenile Northern Harrier in the hawk banding station

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program

The Virginia Coastal Zone has granted Kiptopeke State Park money to thin some pines west of Taylor Pond, to create more suitable habitat for songbirds.

The Virginia Coastal Zone also granted money to Kiptopeke State Park to re-deck the hawk observatory platform. The hawk watch will remain open throughout the construction but portions of it will be closed at times.

Working on the hawk observatory ramp


Monday, September 16, 2013

Monarch Biologist

The Monarch biologist this year is Rea, a recent graduate of the UVA environmental science program. She started her research today, which involves counting monarchs at their roost location and catching them to place indicator stickers on them. The data collected will provide information on survival rates of migrating Monarchs.

A monarch tagged with an indicator sticker

Saturday, September 14, 2013

CVWO Educator

New to CVWO this year is an educator position at Kiptopeke State Park. The educator this year is Jesse, a biology graduate from James Madison University. She will be giving free presentations to the public on bird and butterfly migration on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 10 A.M. and 2 P.M. Her presentations will be held at the pavilion near the hawkwatch platform most days, but if that is taken by a different group she will be located on the hawkwatch platform.

Jesse (left) and myself (right)


Monday, September 9, 2013

Opening of hawk banding station

The number of migrating raptors has been increasing steadily on the hawkwatch.  Ospreys have been sailing through in large numbers most days, while the American Kestrel flight has really picked up the past few days. Today there were 57 American Kestrels and a total of 182 raptors counted from the hawkwatch!

The Kiptopeke hawk banding site opened today (sorry, it is not open to the public). Bob is heading the banding station for his 5th year, and is teaching his assistant Alex the ropes. The first capture of the year was a female Sharp-Shinned Hawk, pictured below.  They also captured a second Sharp-Shinned Hawk, an American Kestrel, and a Red-tailed Hawk today.

Sharp-shinned Hawk


Friday, September 6, 2013

Kiptopeke Programs

Hello CVWO blog readers! 

My name is Katie Rittenhouse, the hawkwatch compiler at Kiptopeke State Park, and I will be making regular posts on the blog. I am ecstatic to be working at Kiptopeke where there are high numbers of migrating raptors along with a variety of other avian orders. Prior to coming to work for CVWO, I was the hawkwatcher at Bake Oven Knob, PA, an intern at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, PA, and a seabird technician on two islands in ME. 

CVWO began counting the fall migration on August 30th this year and the raptors have begun their migration south. There have been nice flights of Osprey and a mixture of other raptors with 11 species total thus far.  A lot of song birds have also been spotted from the hawkwatch platform, including high numbers of bobolinks, Baltimore orioles, warblers, and swallows. Migration numbers will continue to increase as the month progresses. 

Stop by the platform to witness the migration and say hi!