Sunday, April 04, 2010

Hawk Migration Valleyfield - St. Stanislas de Kostka

I hope that everyone was out birding somewhere the last two days. Surprisingly, Mabel and I were out at the hawksite. No, really, I'm not kidding. And what a remarkable two days of hawk migration it was! Yesterday (Friday) brought 414 hawks during the afternoon and today we had 1133 birds. Included in these totals were over 200 Turkey Vultures (Urubu à tête rouge) - with a few good groups of 20-30 birds - mixed in with 1100 Red-tailed hawks (Buse à queue rousse). (No, it's not a misprint.) Today alone saw 907 Red-tailed hawks funnel by in phalanxes and kettles, by far our best one day total, spring or fall ever (previous high 859 Red-tailed hawks on 11 October 1991.) Hawks began getting up in thermals around 11.00 am and by midday, large numbers of hawks were constantly in view until 4.00 pm. Besides the Vultures we also had good numbers of Northern harriers (Busard Saint-Martin), Sharp-shinned hawks (Épervier brun), Red-shouldered hawks (Buse à épaulettes), and Rough-legged hawks (Buse pattue), all in mixed kettles of hawks. Yesterday's 122 Turkey vultures was a record breaker for a one-day count, by two birds. 17 Bald Eagles (Pygargue à tête blanche) and 9 Golden Eagles (Aigle royal) joined in the fun with 12 being seen over a 10-minute period yesterday afternoon. (The spring eagle total passed 100 around mid afternoon today.) With 77 Golden Eagles already counted it is a safe bet that we will far exceed the previous highest seasonal total of 80, seen in 2005. Things should cool down over the next few days. Shame. Cheers, - Bob

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