Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Big Sit!

Peak raptor migration is beginning to slow down here at Kiptopeke, however species diversity is still high and there are always amazing things to see from the platform.

The highlight of October 12th was a Great Egret spectacle in the sky. A giant flock of 59 flew by in a great V formation. It seems that the egrets brought cold weather with them, it's finally started to feel like fall at the hawkwatch thanks to the cooler weather that began this day. Another welcome sight was a beautiful Eastern Hog-nosed Snake spotted by Wes Hetrick near the CVWO butterfly garden. A small burst of falcons late in the day led to a total of 48 Merlins and 110 Kestrels.

Great Egret flock (Julia Magill)

Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Wes Hetrick)

October 13th was The Big Sit!, an annual birding event coordinated by Bird Watcher's Digest. Participating teams strive to see or hear as many bird species as possible in one day within a 17 feet diameter circle. The CVWO team confined to a small section of the platform counted 74 species! It was a very fun day and we were helped by several visitors with great eyes. Highlights included an Orange-crowned Warbler, a Northern Pintail, and many many Red-breasted Nuthatches.

Red-breasted Nuthatch enjoying our feeder (Julia Magill)

October 14th and 15th were slow for raptors, but not for Blue Jays! 748 Blue Jays were counted heading south on the 14th, often in large groups 30 and 40 strong. Monarchs seem to have picked up for a couple days as well. Several adult Cooper's Hawks were counted on the 15th. Was one of them the Cooper's Hawk I saw snacking on a Yellow-billed Cuckoo in the woods a short walk from the platform? Maybe! Kiptopeke is a great place for raptors to stop and refuel.

Blue Jay (Steve Thornhill)

Cooper's Hawk (Julia Magill)

October 16th started out slow, but turned around with a great accipiter flight in the afternoon. Overall there were 98 Sharp-shinned Hawks and 119 Cooper's Hawks. It was a good day for Northern Harriers as well, many of the 24 counted that day flew close to the platform, allowing great looks at these beautiful raptors.