Saturday, November 30, 2013

End of the season

Today, the last day of the official hawk count for the season was filled with geese! 830 Snow Geese and 109 Canada Geese were counted. The season  for me as a hawkcounter at Kiptopeke has been great. I counted a total of 14,952 raptors of 15 different species. Some of the highlights for me include the opportunity to see a Swaison's Hawk in the hand, counting 3 Rough-legged Hawks, a day count of 230 Merlins, and a daily high count of 1186 raptors. For more details on the hawk count visit

Snow Geese with a few blue-morph Snow Geese included

Saturday, November 23, 2013

5 Buteo Day

The day started off slow with a couple of Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, two Northern Harriers and some Accipiters moving early. Then a late migrating adult Broad-winged Hawk was spotted, followed by a juvenile the following hour. Then the third Rough-legged Hawk for the season, a juvenile light-morph with a dark chest and belly, was the beginning of the real excitement . The Rough-leg flew over the hawk trapping station as we held our breath to see if it would go into the station. Unfortunately it did not, but less than an hour later a Swainson's Hawk flew into the station! Although it is late for Swainson's Hawks it was the first one of the year, a juvenile dark morph.

A few noteworthy non-raptor migrants have made appearances at the hawk platform the past few days.  Today a flock of 4 American White Pelicans were flying southwest at 1334. Two days ago a flock of 5 Sandhill cranes were spotted flying southwest and then yesterday were seen flying northeast. The Tundra Swan migration continues with 124 individuals counted today.

Dark-morph juvenile Swainson's Hawk
Dark-morph juvenile Swaison's Hawk

Friday, November 22, 2013

Eastern Screech Owl

An Eastern Screech Owl that was probably hit by an automobile on the road made its way to the hawk platform yesterday. Unfortunately, its fate was the same as many other birds that are struck by automobiles, and it died.

A gray morph Eastern Screech Owl
A gray morph Eastern Screech Owl

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Color-tagged Ring-billed Gull Details

The US Geological Survey promptly responded about the color-tagged bird pictured below, which I found and reported last is a male, hatched in 2010 or earlier and banded at Pleasure Bay Beach, Massachusetts, on March 29, 2013. Researchers are always happy to receive such re-sighting information on their work.
Brian Taber

Monday, November 18, 2013

First trapped Northern Goshawk of the year

Yesterday, November 17, the first Northern Goshawk was trapped at the hawk banding station for the season.  The individual that was trapped was a juvenile male, which composes the majority of the Northern Goshawks that are spotted and trapped at Kiptopeke State Park.

A Juvenile male Northern Goshawk trapped at the Kiptopeke Hawk-trapping station by Bob Chapman.  Note heavy streaky on chest

Backside of the Northern Goshawk trapped. Note scalloped back and wide tail.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Color-tagged Ring-billed Gull

This bird was on the south island of the Chesapeake Bay bridge-tunnel today...we will notify the bander and post the info when we get a reply.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Northern Goshawks

The number of migrating hawks has drastically declined, but rarer birds are appearing.  Today there were two juvenile Northern Goshawks flying south past the hawk platform.  The first one flew low just to the east of the hawk platform, while the second one flew through the hawk trapping station. A good number of Red-Tailed Hawks and a few Red-Shouldered Hawks are also being seen from the platform.

A Predatory Stink Bug preying on a Marmorated Stink Bug on the hawkwatch platform.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

2013 Monarch Butterfly Project

The Monarch Butterfly project has wrapped-up for the season. Monarch Biologist, Rea Manderino, managed to capture and tag 218 Monarchs despite the challenges she faced. The first challenge was a decline in numbers of Monarch Butterflies this year, due to a decrease of Milkweed in the mid-west. The second being the government shut-down, which interfered with her roost counts at Wise Point and prevented her from searching for Monarchs at Fisherman's Island and the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge for sixteen days.

Monarch Biologist, Rea Manderino, holding a Monarch Butterfly that she tagged with an indicator sticker.
A Monarch Butterfly that Rea Manderino tagged with an indicator sticker.


Platform Facelift

Kiptopeke Hawkwatcher Katie Rittenhouse, enjoying the newly re-decked (after 20 years) observation platform, thanks to the Kiptopeke State Park work crew and the grant from VA Department of Environmental Quality.