From this work, I will say that Plum Island is the best place in North America to observe, and therefore study, the Spring flight of the American Kestrel! I have, sadly, observed that species' two-step decline. But, on a positive note, I now continue to watch this bird with three new project goals: one involving the effects of macroweather patterning [my terminology] on movement, another objective looking at an aspect of population flight behavior, and a third more intimate and individual element photographing Kestrel plumages.
For both -- hobbyist and scientist -- enjoyment is key, hopefully. The scientific endeavor is, and should be, distinctive through its evolution: observing, hypothesizing, testing, theorizing, and publishing. The hobbyist observes and reports, more or less. Of course the hobbyist can become a scientist, and vice versa.
Spring '04 migration: East winds off passing Spring Nor'easters kept the flight inland until Saturday, April 10th when a nice wave of Kestrels and Harriers advanced ahead of another coastal drenching. Can God string together two days of Westerly winds? So far She won't do it; and the answer to my prayers turned out to be a big, "N-O."
Here's the final total for Spring '04:
"April" began with a bang on March 30th with 115 Kestrels and from there on, it's been a steady stream.
Here's the final total for Spring '02:
Here's the final total for Spring '01:
Spring 2000 migration:. A seabreeze for the Big Days [around the April 20th] took a chunk out of the Kestrel flight, but otherwise -- a great predictable flight on the 7th or so made for a nice season. The first/last flight of the century...
K+April is online for 2000. And then there's the "UnPlum" page!
Here's the final total for Spring '00:
Spring '99 migration: Here's this Spring's flight... The first really big day happened on Wednesday, April 7th with nearly 300 Kestrels! Record year in recent history for Sharpies, Kestrels, Merlins, Bald Eagles and the shear total number of raptors!
K+April for '99 is online.
Here's the final total for Spring '99:
Spring '98 migration: Nearly 2,000 hawks even with a big seventeen day lull at the end of April thru mid-May. Without the relentless sea breezes, Merlins went by without observers and the Sharpie count would have soared well above the 500 mark.
Here's the final total for Spring '98:
Spring '97 migration: Open with a Gyrfalcon and the season just had to get better, right? But a big Kestrel day never materialized because of a lack of westerly winds out ahead of the big due date; as it turned out it was a record Merlin year... 100 even.
Here's the final total for Spring '97:
Spring '96 migration: While not online in detailed emails [pre-listserv], it's presented in spreadsheet format... just like the refuge staff sees it updated several times every week. Also, just added, a first brief introductory watch spreadsheet from '95!
Here's the final total for Spring '96:
Key to many of the HMANA [Hawk Migration Association of North America] codes:
BV-Black Vulture, TV-Turkey Vulture, OS-Osprey, BE-Bald Eagle, NH-Northern Harrier, SS-Sharp-shinned Hawk, CH-Cooper's Hawk, NG-Northern Goshawk, RS-Red-shouldered Hawk, BW-Broad-winged Hawk,
SW-Swainson's Hawk, RT-Red-tailed Hawk, RL-Rough-legged Hawk, AK-American Kestrel, ML-Merlin,
PG-Peregrine Falcon, GY-Gyrfalcon.
A note about the hawk images on this page:
All were rendered from photographs taken by T.Carrolan at the Plum Island Hawk Watch [Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Parking Lot #1].
Then, then, then they were watercolored in Adobe Photoshop on a Macintosh PowerBook G3: twice as fast as with a Pentium II Pro machine.
Clockwise from upper left: Kestrel, Merlin, Harrier, and Sharpie.