Hawksaloft.com | Peregrine Projects | N.E.Mac | nra
plum island hawk watch

Overview
In the late 1980's, my friend Ed Mair conducted an intensive five-year watch at Plum Island: over 180 hours of coverage from Lot 1 and 1800+ hawks, cumulative. In 1996, I began another scientific study: over 180 hours and 1800+ birds in my first year alone. Then 1996 through 2002, the count tallied: 1,368 hours of observation & 13,955 hawks [sixteen species; seven years, beyond the five I had planned as a nod and complement to Ed's study]. I intended and accomplished coverage well beyond the "big day" myth, beyond the narrow ideal flight weather conditions, and beyond the scope of what volunteers can cover... I think demonstrating that Plum Island should have daily professional-style observer coverage from late March through late May. And I began publishing the results, here, and elsewhere online, in 1999.

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.
The words, images, and data are copyright © 2006 Tom Carrolan. They may not reprinted or used in any other fashion without my written permission.


Counts
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:
TV
OS
BE
NH
SS
CH
BW
RS
RT
RL
AK
ML
PG
TOTAL
NA
35
3
153
87
5
0
1
28
3
437
47
5
804
Spring '02 migration: I hope this Spring is not indicated by the first day... snow on East winds!
"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:
TV
OS
BE
NH
SS
CH
BW
RS
RT
RL
AK
ML
PG
TOTAL
87
144
9
292
710
19
5
2
40
0
1501
158
47
3014
Spring '01 migration: Started with a Peregrine bang on March 15th. The bang was followed by chronic sea breezes. Then, instead of two to four day waves of hawks, we got Big Days followed by the doldrums -- only a few days of Westerly winds for the entire month of May!
Here's the final total for Spring '01:
TV
OS
BE
NH
SS
CH
BW
RS
RT
RL
AK
ML
PG
TOTAL
75
64
12
257
266
2
26
4
28
4
1101
116
31
1988
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:
TV
OS
BE
NH
SS
CH
BW
RS
RT
RL
AK
ML
PG
TOTAL
32
45
6
70
305
12
2
1
8
1
980
74
16
1552
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:
TV
OS
BE
NH
SS
CH
BW
RS
RT
RL
AK
ML
PG
TOTAL
32
56
14
220
468
7
8
5
91
2
1291
145
12
2351
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:
BV
TV
OS
BE
NH
SS
CH
BW
RS
RT
AK
ML
PG
TOTAL
1
41
42
6
144
476
7
10
4
46
1096
47
7
1929
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:
TV
OS
BE
NH
SS
CH
BW
RS
RT
AK
ML
PG
GY
TOTAL
33
79
9
256
143
2
3
2
107
629
100
11
1
1378
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:
TV
OS
BE
NH
SS
CH
NG
RS
BW
SW
RT
AK
ML
PG
TOTAL
13
54
4
103
332
4
1
1
11
1
20
1164
85
15
1808

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.
Now it's art [pronounced 'OTT' around here].

Clockwise from upper left: Kestrel, Merlin, Harrier, and Sharpie.