Tuesday, October 30, 2007

migration is winding down

Not much going on anymore. Even the Kinglets have gone. The most interesting bird yesterday was a Woodcock that I managed to scare up. Today, there was even less. I went down and sat by the creek in a likely sparrow spot but found nothing.

You can see how bored I was. lol

Actually, I think the pics are rather interesting don't you agree?

Eventually, I headed back home. On the way, A Red-tailed Hawk appeared from behind the trees.

Such a beautiful bird.

I have to get down to Bakken's pond sometime to look for ducks. We're getting into migration season for them. Another month and Gull season should get underway. I really need to add some gulls to my list this year. My list is sadly lacking. Thayer's, Glaucous, Glaucous-winged and a few others all need to fall within my binocular view sometime soon.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Thoughts on Hawk migration. Good and bad days and perfect days.

The migration of any bird is something that not even the best can predict. Where is it coming from? where is going? What route is it taking? where will it land? These are just some of the questions that plague all birders. Even the most expert among us can only give educated guesses. What factors are involved in migration? many things. Weather, food, shelter, predators and habitat just to name a few. Weather seems to be one of the main ones. Sunny days and clear nights seem to be better than clouds or overcast. In fall, N winds are better than S winds. An incoming high pressure front seems to be better than a low pressure front. What do the birds look for and how do they know when to go and when not to? Regardless of whatever may come between them and their goal, the still brave the dangers of travel between their summer breeding grounds and their winter home in the tropics. There are many species that need all migrate and all need food, shelter, good weather. What do Hawks need for good migration movement? It seems that clear sunny skies and NW winds make for the best days. In my post from Tues Oct 9, I mention that it was a perfect day. How little did I know how right I was. After spending the morning in the field, I checked up on the counts at Concordia, Duluth and IL beach SP. Concordia and IBSP were especially good. It seems that the NW winds drive the hawks up to the lake where they can go no farther E and so continue S. on the IL bird list, I recall seeing a post from a guy who had visited the hawkwatch that day for the first time in his life. It was his first hawkwatch. He mentions in his post that they told him to "never to expect another day like that again". "EVER!"
It certainly was a record day. Raptor numbers at IBSP and Concordia broke records that hadn't been broken in years. Duluth also had near record numbers that day.
The weather that day WAS perfect. A low pressure storm system the day before had been cleared that night by an inversion system of high pressure and NW winds. The result was perfectly clear, sunny skies, NW winds, temps in the 60s and a 3 day backup of Raptors that had been held up by the storm system. in other words, a Perfect day. Days like that are rare and few and far between. Most days are good if the weather is. Anywhere between Sept 1 and Nov 10 should have good hawk movement. A good look at the forecast will help in hawkwatch success. Look for a forecast that has as close to perfect as possible. Today for instance, was a good day. Better than most. the forecast was clear and sunny with West winds changing over to NW. What about wind speed? 1-4MPH is too light. There's no enough air movement to make a good migration day. Yes, you'll find birds, but only low numbers as they will tend to ride the thermals and hang in one place. If you want to observe hunting hawks, it might be a good day. 15-20MPH is too strong. The wind will blow the hawks right out of the air. Good luck seeing anything on days like this. Steady winds 5-10MPH is generally good for migration. There's enough air movement to make migration easier but not so strong that Hawks can't fly. Today was a day like that. wind speed, 5-10MPH with gusts around 15-20MPH. Tues the 9th was like that too. Not too strong and not too weak. Just right.
But weather is only a small part of it. I have been out on days that should have been really good and found nothing. I have also been out on days that should have been terrible but were suprisingly good.
What makes them go no matter what? You're guess is as good as mine. I suppose that eventually we will find the answer to most questions but some questions will forever remain unanswered. Though, even as we answer questions, more questions will arise.
Another question is how do birds and animals communicate? We think we know some of their language. However, what we know is only simple deduction after watching actions. How do humans communicate when there is a language barrier? we use universal sign language. Gestures and movements. Birds don't speak like we do. Calls and songs are only a small fraction of their language. What does the rest of their language consist of? sign language. Of a highly developed kind. The slightest look, movement or shiver means something. Where humans have lost the language through our speech, birds and animals have retained it. Their language is far more advanced than we give them credit for. What happens when we inevidably come across an alien race? a race that doesn't speak our language. doesn't understand sign language. How do you communicate? When we figure out how to talk to animals, we will have made great advances to prepare for meeting an Alien race.

Hawk day in October and a RBNH

The forecast for today was sunny with West winds. I figured with all the rain there should be some hawks backed up. I was right.
I checked three different points on the ridge, staying at each point for approx 30 min. I spent 15 min counting every hawk I could see and spent the other 15 min observing and counting any new Hawks (Buteo, Accipiter, Eagle) or species that flew by. I tried my best to not count a bird twice.

After two hours, I came out with 6 species of raptors and 11 other species.

Red-Tailed Hawk.............16
Cooper's Hawk................5
Sharp-shinned Hawk.......1
Bald Eagle.......................1
Rough-legged Hawk.......1
Turkey Vulture................2

The heat waves made ID difficult.
Unknown raptor.............12
Unknown Hawk.............10
Unknown Accipiter........1
Unknown Buteo............1

25 Crows
Pileated Woodpecker
Downy WP
Red-Bellied WP
E Bluebird
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Blue Jay
RED-Breasted Nuthatch
WHITE-Breasted Nuthatch
Gr Blue Heron

It's definately not Hawk Ridge but I think that's pretty good for Richland County.
The RED-breasted Nuthatch was quite a suprise. That makes my second one of the season.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Anna's Hummingbird!!!!!

I stopped by Steve Thiessen's house for the Anna's hummer today. I arrived around 2:30 and not ten minutes later, the bird appeared. It stayed for about fifteen seconds and then headed off over the house behind me.
I didn't even get a good look. just enough time to click off a few pics and then it was gone.

Life bird #379!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ash Creek today

it was cloudy, cold and windy for the second and last day of the county field days. the birding wasn't all that great until about 2:00pm.

here's some of what came by today:

Red-tailed hawk..............6
Turkey Vulture................4
Cooper's Hawk...............1
Bald Eagle......................1

Great blue Heron
Yellow-rumped Warbler
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Pileated Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Golden-crowned Kinglet

not the world's greatest birding day. I think we came out with around 20 species.
Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny with NW winds again. We'll see what shows up.

also saw my Ruby-throat this morning.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Ash Creek county forest hawk watch

I spent the morning at Ash creek today with the county field days for the area 6th graders.
The day was perfect. Sunny, no clouds, NW winds @ about 8-14 mph. The result? Lots of migrating hawks.

The following passed by this morning:
Red-tailed Hawk 10
Cooper's Hawk 8
Sharp-shinned Hawk 4
Bald Eagle 3
Turkey Vulture 15
Broad-winged Hawk 3

That was in 3 hours. unfortunately, I could not stay all day. An all day watch would have turned up greater numbers.
There was one hawk that flew by that could have been an imm Goshawk but I didn't see enough field marks to ID it. It was bigger than a Cooper's though.

Tomorrow will bring NW winds but cloudy skies. hawking won't be as good. We'll see what Thurs brings.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

9 spgs and 1918 marsh yesterday. 10/6‏

I went to Madison early yesterday and stopped by 9 spgs to look for sharp-tailed and LeConte's Sparrows. I arrived at 0700 as the sun was rising and immediately picked out a N Pintail in the first pond. I hung around the pond for a few minutes scoping the ducks and then check the woods for the odd warblers (only Yellow-rumps) then I walked out on the dike. There weren't many ducks around since the local hunters were doing their best to decrease the numbers. I walked down in between the 3rd and 4th ponds where I found white-throated, White-crowned, lincoln's, swamp and song sparrows, Palm, 1 orange-crowned warbler and C Yellowthroats flying around in the willows.
Upon returning to the dike, I ran into Steve Thiessen who was kind enough to show me exactly where the Nelson's sharp-tails were hiding that morning.
To my knowledge, no LeConte's were found. I left 9 spgs at about 0830.

I checked the 1918 marsh around 1:00 and ran into Martha Spencer and her friend (both) from Milwaukee. nothing unusual was present. we got some good looks at Yellow-rumped Warblers and some Immature cedar waxwings.

I returned to the marsh around 5:30 (after my violin lesson) and promptly found the Red-Necked Grebe on the pond. Among the usual Coots, Shovelers, Wood Ducks, Redheads and Ruddys, a Horned Grebe also showed up. The white cheek patches showed up quite nicely. Although, he was too far away to get a decent pic. Even with my scope.

Later (about 6:30), I spotted about 100 chimney swifts heading in for the night down by the Noodles on State street.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Juncos have arrived.

It was an interesting morning yesterday. The warbler numbers of early last week have dropped by almost 100%.
I found only one species. A lone Magnolia. The late fall migrants are starting to pick up. I heard one report of Lapland Longspurs by Stevens point already. Anyway, here's what I found:

Magnolia Warbler
Blue-headed vireo
White-throated Sparrow
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Golden-crowned Kinglet
DE Junco
Blue Jay
Song sparrow
Barred Owl
Lincoln's sparrow
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

Golden-crowned Kinglet was a new bird for the season as was the Lincoln's sparrow.
The oldtimers say that you can expect snow 10-12 days after you see the first Junco of the season. We'll see if that holds.
The temp is supposed to be warm this weekend but may crash dive next week.