Thursday, November 15, 2018

Rarity Roundup and Finches Galore!

November has been off to a great start here at the Kiptopeke hawkwatch platform. At the beginning of the month, we enjoyed several days with good Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, and accipiter flights, including 436 raptors on November 4th and 395 raptors on November 8th. It has been interesting to notice several sightings of Ospreys carrying needlefish this season.

Osprey with needlefish by Anna Stunkel

The first Tundra Swans of the season were seen on November 3rd, and we have been enjoying large flights of them since that time. The busiest Tundra Swan flight so far occurred on November 13th, with 264 birds seen. Their beautiful calls are always a joy to hear.

Tundra Swan flock by Anna Stunkel

True to the 2018 Finch Forecast predictions, we have been fortunate to see large numbers of American Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, and some Purple Finches lately. Yesterday, the mixed sunflower seed and nyjer seed feeders were covered in goldfinches.

finch feeding frenzy at the feeders by Anna Stunkel
The annual Rarity Roundup was held on November 10th. During this event, teams of birders cover local areas on the Eastern Shore in search of uncommon and rare bird species. This year was a great success, with a nice turnout of participants. From the platform on that day, the first Sandhill Crane of the season was seen and heard calling. A juvenile Golden Eagle also passed, and was observed by several visitors. Thanks to all who joined in and visited the hawkwatch!

As November continues, we expect to see some more Golden Eagles and hopefully a Northern Goshawk or two. Although the raptor flight tends to slow down during this month, it is an excellent time to observe both raptor and non-raptor species diversity. We hope to see you on the platform soon!


Sunday, November 4, 2018

White Kestrel and Bald Eagle Record

I won't make you scroll down any further, here is the beautiful Leucistic American Kestrel that was observed in the area on November 1st and 2nd. It was a rare treat to see such a uniquely colored raptor and the CVWO staff was in awe of it and grateful for the opportunity to see it. The Eastern Shore is great for birds!

Leucistic American Kestrel (Julia Magill)
Leucistic American Kestrel (Julia Magill)

Leucistic American Kestrel (Julia Magill)

Leucistic American Kestrel (Julia Magill)

Leucistic American Kestrel (Julia Magill)

Leucistic American Kestrel (Julia Magill)

Leucistic American Kestrel (Julia Magill)

Late October has been great for birding here at Kiptopeke. Pine Siskins, Goldfinches, and Red-breasted Nuthatches have been dripping from the feeders. The Eastern Shore Bird Club walked the Raptor trail to Taylor Pond here and observed 51 species including a Yellow-bill Cuckoo, Hermit Thrushes, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Northern Harriers, Bald Eagles, Wood Ducks and Ruddy Ducks.

Yellow-rumpled Warbler and American Goldfinch sharing a puddle (Julia Magill)

Adult Male Northern Harrier (Julia Magill)

Red-tailed Hawks had a great day on October 30th, and so did we for getting to see such a great number of them. Anna counted 30 in total. We celebrated Halloween by counting and identifying raptors flying south! Same as everyday, except that we were in costume as some of our favorite birds we get to see on the hawkwatch. Let us know on the Facebook post if you like Anna's costume!

Anna dressed up as a Turkey Vulture (Nancy Barnhart)

Me dressed up as an Osprey (Julia Magill)

We had a nice push of Bald Eagles this week, which has helped lead us to a new Kiptopeke record for Bald Eagles seen in a season! 462 was the previous record which was overtaken on November 1st. As of today we are up to 493 and counting. There was a time when known breeding pairs of Bald Eagles on the Eastern Shore was abysmally low. It has been amazing seeing so many beautiful Bald Eagles in such  great numbers this season.

Adult Bald Eagle (Steve Thornhill)

Immature Bald Eagle ( Julia Magill )

-Julia (just kidding about the Osprey costume)