On Saturday we partipated in the Kiptopeke challenge. A few teams stopped by the platform in the morning hours to utilize our raptor hot spot. It was a quiet day for much needed passerines to add to our species list, but we enjoyed the high raptor diversity. Also diverse were the many visitors who came from near and far to experience the day's raptor flight.
The highlight of the challenge was the amazing Great Blue Heron flight towards the end of the day. 105 of them were spotted moving south, including one flock of 22 and another of 37! Seeing flocks of that size is uncommon at Kiptopeke, so it was an exciting sight.
|Kettling flock of Great Blue Herons|
Sunday brought a stream of Ospreys over the platform. 315 flew south, some carrying fish between their talons to snack on during their long journey. Falcon numbers were high as well; with Merlins, Kestrels, and Peregrines often flying overhead close to the platform.
|Osprey with fish|
|American Kestrel harassing a Peregrine Falcon|
A favorite among visitors are Merlins. Fierce and fast hunters, their prey barely have time to register an attack before becoming meals for the small falcon. We got a first hand look at their predatory prowess when a Yellow-billed Cuckoo lost some tail feathers to a swooping Merlin. The Yellow-billed Cuckoo flew away after the attack, but we didn't see it again.
|Yellow-billed Cuckoo tail feathers collected by a visitor|