Hawksaloft.com | Peregrine Projects | N.E.Mac | nra
HERE RESIDES THE MISCELLANY | of the semi-late Spring hawk migration. Mostly, that involves my adventures on the outer reaches of Cape Cod. Pictured above is a 180 degree plus panorama from North Truro MA -- the water on the righthand edge is the Atlantic Ocean, on the left is Pilgrim Lake and Massachusetts Bay beyond. Check out a larger version of the panorama.

Late Spring 2002:
One hell of a kite flight...

Late Spring 2000:
Two related climate studies online...
Outermost Hawk Watch: the Late Show on Cape Cod... [6/12/00]
Outer Cape flight and the flight missed... [5/28/00]
Silent Spring, New Chapter... [5/24/00]
NOT Plum Island Today & the Art/Science of the Bubble.. (5/6/00).
Bubble Up, Part Deux... (5/7/00)

Late Spring 1999:
Subject: A Hawk Diversion... (5/27/99)
Subject: Hawk Diversions Continued... (6/5/99)


Subject: A Mississippi Kite Season, maybe two... in one day!
Date Sent: Thursday, June 6, 2002 1:43 AM
From: Tom Carrolan <TLC@hawksaloft.com>
To: HMANA Mailing List <BIRDHAWK@LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU>

For any and all eastern hawk watch sites north of the expanding breeding range of the Mississippi Kite, the Pilgrim Heights Hawk Watch in North Truro MA [near the end of Cape Cod] had an unprecedented Spring flight on Saturday, June 1, 2002.

Nine [9] MKs were counted! And if you add in the bird seen late Friday afternoon, that's 10 MKs in twenty-four hours.

While a detailed posting for the day may be coming from the site coordinator, I thought I'd get the word out on this extraordinary occurrence.

In the opinion of two experienced outer Cape hawk watchers -- myself and Don Manchester -- there was no confusion as to these all being different birds. We kept track of time, age, and molt. In addition, observers we contacted via cell phone farther out the Cape in the Provincelands also caught the flight and noted the return path of the first couple of birds... a flight path we would have predicted based on the winds.

We even had a season's-worth of MKs in view at one time with 4 kites passing in a group! What made the day's counting interesting -- beyond the obvious -- was that at times the MKs were with migrating BWs and both species were exhibiting similar wing molts in an increasing SW wind. By that I mean their wings exhibited the gaps mostly with the wrist as the molt center; as the winds increased, immature Broadwings in molt begin slicing and sliding, a little like the kites. Don worked the small bursts of birds w/binoculars being sure we didn't overcount or miss a bird, while I focused on individual kites for plumage details with the scope. Then, after each group's passage, we huddled up.

What was "usual" was that MKs are expected at this point in the Spring migration at Pilgrim Heights every year and several observers were out for a day of the immature Broadwing migration, southern Bald Eagle and Osprey dispersal, and a Mississippi Kite flight.

Tom Carrolan
http://www.hawksaloft.com
............................................................................
A multitude of laws in a country is like a great number of physicians,
a sign of weakness and malady.
-- Voltaire, philosopher (1694-1778)
............................................................................

Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2000 18:44:29 -0400
From: Tom Carrolan <TLC@hawksaloft.com>
Subject: [MASSBIRD] Two related climate studies online...

A story in CNN's Nature section reports on how an increase in El Niño
events could effect songbird populations of Neotropic migrants -- like the Black-throated Blue Warbler
studied in New Hampshire.

http://www.cnn.com/2000/NATURE/06/15/disappearing.birds.ap/index.html

And the recent, much publicized "Climate Change Impacts on the United States" government report is available online... and if you want, you can even submit comments!

http://www.gcrio.org/NationalAssessment/
=========

From: Tom Carrolan <TLC@hawksaloft.com>
To: massbird listserv <massbird@world.std.com>
Subject: Outermost Hawk Watch: the Late Show on Cape Cod...
Date: Mon, 12 Jun 2000 09:02:57 -0400

Over the last two weekends we have continued the Spring hawk watching activity at Pilgrim Heights in North Truro MA -- my old hawk watch from the 80s -- with some nice results.

Especially on Saturday [6/10/00] when after a day with a trickle of activity, we had a Swallow-tailed Kite at 4:15pm DST. After having a couple of those whispy Mississippi Kites in May, I was reminded what a cruiser-weight raptor the Swallow-tailed Kite is. Not long after a Peregrine worked by into a moderate WSW wind, this bigger bird knifed its way North on smooth curving wings with grace and ease while being harrassed by more than the usual compliment of other birds.

It appeared the Kite was carrying prey. That forked tail is pretty distracting [to my concentration] and does a good job of hiding the feet. That's why when I saw the Kite's feet hanging below the body line, I'm pretty sure I saw a prey item in tow. And I'm guessing by the number of chasers that the chasee was observed capturing its supper. The very act of predation triggers more of a reaction than the mere raptor shape passing. It seems every eye witness to the taking rallies and joins the pursuit of the killer. It was a brief, but pretty cool show!

The following raptors were deemed to be migrating:

   6/4  6/10
TV  9    2
OS  4    4
SK  0    1
NH  1    0
BE  2i   1i
SS  1i   0
CH  0    1i
RT  1i   1i
BW 13    2
ML  0    5
PG  0    1
  ___   __
   31   18

And the following Sunday morning raptor report [6/11] from P'Town via Blair Nikula:
>About 10:00 I had a nice kettle consisting of an eagle, 6 vultures,
>1 imm. Cooper's, 13 Broad-wingeds, and 0 kites
.
-----------
Key to the HMANA [Hawk Migration Association of North America] codes:
TV-Turkey Vulture, OS-Osprey, SK-Swallow-tailed Kite, BE-Bald Eagle, NH-Northern Harrier,
CH-Cooper's Hawk, BW-Broad-winged Hawk, RT-Red-tailed Hawk, ML-Merlin, PG-Peregrine Falcon.
-----------
Other winged sightings:
My first migrating Monarch Butterflies of the Spring were had on 6/3-4/00, I didn't have a single one all Spring at Plum Island; plus 453 migrating dragonflies on 6/10/00 from Pilgrim Heights. The dragonflies were all naked eye right off the tops of the Beach Plums and pines... just like the hawks!

The night shift -- from Mike Beath on 6/4/00 -- reported Whip-poor-wills and a Chuck-will's-widow from the intersection of the White Cedar Swamp Trail area at Marconi Station.

=========================
NOT Eastern Mass Hawk Watch

Tom Carrolan
=========================

Subject: Outer Cape flight and the flight missed...
To: Hawksaloft.com
Date: Sun, 28 May 2000 23:58:51 -0400

I missed getting out for the hawk flight on the first and second days following the frontal passage [Thursday and Friday], but managed the third day [Saturday, 5/27/00]. I had some work scheduled plus Tom Tyning and I had Red Sox tix for Thursday and we really wanted to see the Edward Weston modernist photography exhibit at the MFA before it closed at the end of the Memorial Day weekend. So a trip to Chinatown, plenty of beer and a ball game, some work downtown, an afternoon at the museum -- aren't we just a couple of renaissance guys -- and I didn't get out for hawks 'til Saturday.

It was reported that there were about 35 hawks at Pilgrim Heights on Thursday, mostly Sharpies... interesting numbers quite comparable to the same period last year.

http://www.hawksaloft.com/plum/unplum.html#Anchor-14210

No one was out on Friday, but reports of a couple of Broadwing kettles lifting off from the Beech Forest Saturday morning make for interesting speculation on the nature of Friday's BW numbers. Two kettles were reported -- one at 7:30a & another at 9a -- each of about 20-30 BWs. The second report included about ten TVs and the person noted how high the birds got up. Now the sky in the morning was an awful blue and I didn't see the Broadwings and may even have missed a couple of Eagles, but I had a kettle of ten TVs coming from Ptown between 9 and 10a and they were pretty high on the along-the-landmass NW wind. So my guess, maybe 70 or even 90 BWs on Friday?? BTW, the wind was moderate in the morning, but dropped off in the afternoon and drifted back to the SW as the south coastal low mitigated the wind prior to the sea breeze coming on... due Sunday/Monday.

While the official count got underway around noon on Saturday and ended around 3pm DST and did include a great look at the Mississippi Kite, I started at 7:30a and left at 5p. My count for Saturday at Pilgrim Heights:

TV-18
OS -3
MK-1 sub adult
BE -6 juv.
NH-1i [plus at least 4 locals]
BW-13 1a/12i
AK-1
ML-2 one adult male/1i
___
45

Hawk food for Saturday included about 200 Blue Jays in groups of 10-20, around 60 Cedar Waxwings in small groups, an afternoon trickle of moving Chickadees, plus 8 Common Loons [it was a tough day for loons with the blue sky].

The May 6th MK was a silhouette against a cloudy sky. At that time, I mentioned that every Mississippi Kite I've seen over the years on the Outer Cape had been a subadult when I was able to get a good enough look, but we couldn't see anything on the 5/6 bird. It was interesting to note however that even against the cloudy sky on May 6th every Sharpie had translucent flight feathers, but the Kite was opaque with those smokey white feathers! I called that one out front early and talked about the Kite flight -- as that bird never stopped flapping all the time it was in view... "Looks like a Peregrine or Harrier, but flies like a gull doesn't it?! That's Kite flight for ya. Who's seen the White-tailed Kite or other kinds of Kites in Florida or Texas?" I pointed out the classic triangular tail and the 'thumbs' too.

MK #2, on 5/27/00 was photographed by me and by Mike Beath -- he the guy who took picts of the MK last Memorial Day weekend and then got shots of the Swallow-tailed Kite on the first weekend in June '99. I should have my slides of this bird back in about a week and I plan to get one up on the NOT Plum page. No way they won't come out decent.

http://www.hawksaloft.com/plum/unplum.html

While I got the call out on this MK early too, it wasn't critical as the bird was low in good light and proceeded to circle up and back over us. Melissa had a nice description in her posting. I even had plenty of time to point out the checkered wrist remnants of the juvenile plumage to good birders, and yes, they all have tails that are THAT BANDED, as a couple of people were noticed the fanned tail [nice little crowd at the hawk watch]. It was a life bird for one of the Wellfleet Bay volunteer hawk counters and one of those looks that ended with everyone wanting to initiate a handshake at the end of the day... the regulars were still high at closing time with the Kite and a half doz. Bald Eagles [It was Mike Beath and I alone with Barbara Hannigan who had the dozen Eagle flight last year].

And it was ironic/funny that earlier in the afternoon Don and Melissa make a joke out of asking me if I'd brought another Mississippi Kite with me for the day. I patted my front and back pockets and said I must have left the Kite in my other pants.

=========

Subject: [MASSBIRD] Silent Spring, New Chapter...
To: massbird listserv <massbird@world.std.com>
Date: Wed, 24 May 2000 22:30:43 -0400

On the subject of Brown Thrashers and Winter Wrens, et. al. [or the lack there of], I'll be brief -- so be forewarned:

1. Over the weekend I was in northern NY and the subject of missing birds came up. Where was the bird song -- another kind of Silent Spring -- and therefore, where was the volume of birds? In the context of yardbirds on the Tug Hill Plateau, we weren't hearing the common Mourning Warbler. Later on, on an overcast drizzly day, Gerry Smith [of Derby Hill fame] commented that with fewer birds of each species, the matter was compounded by a commonly known fact of avian territoriality -- now in effect. With lower density in migration, frequency of bird song is lower. Such that when studied the Red-winged Blackbird has many neighbors vying for precious territory, the males sing more often in order to more vigorously respond and defend their territory. A bird's urge to sing is lessened proportionately by the numbers of their kind at hand.

So the implication for those of us who bird by ear is that we need to adjust our mechanism to the fact that we'll hear fewer birds then may be around, when there are fewer birds! For example, we may need to listen longer and even informally redouble our censusing to detect the birds that are there -- both during migration and on territory.

2. It should be noted, and noted well, that those who have raised this issue on Massbird are of the caliber of birder who not only makes a checkmark on the day list, but also notes in detail the numbers of each species when and where they bird.

3. On an up note, we had many species common up there [in NY] on days with less than optimum conditions... like thousands of breeding Bobolinks, both Grasshopper and Clay-colored Sparrows singing in [dim] broad daylight, Harriers, Winter Wrens, Whip-poor-wills, and a close calling Sharp-shinned Hawk near her nest while I was photographing the tiny, very northern Ram's-head Lady Slipper [an orchid; the main reason for the trip].

Gerry and I also had plenty of time to reminisce, first on the down side, about the extirpation of our favorite Loggerhead Shike as a northern New York breeder. It happened virtually overnight in the late 70's. Then we fondly shared our memories of both having attended the first ever Hawk Migration of North America conference in our hometown of Syracuse back in '74... when we were but mere teenagers, well almost that young. And now back to our program...

4. Overall, things have been getting progressive worse, for wildlife, especially as measured from around the turn of the last century. One illustration I heard, many years ago -- "from 1900 to WWII, bird numbers have dropped in half; from 1950 to Earth Day, in half again; from there to the late '80s, again..." you do the math to bring us up to date [two specific studies, since I first heard this snapshot, have occurred to add substance. One compared radar images over time over the Gulf of Mexico and you can just see the decline in the densities w/o counting; another from a state wildlife agency presented hard evidence of a sharp decline in A. Woodcock numbers over a quarter century... these guys have tons of studies on game species and are often close-to-the-vest with bad news, IMHO].

5. On a parallel track, conservative estimates of current species extinction rate is a dozen species daily, worldwide. That's every day, including today. Others think the number of lost spp. approaches 100 per; many gone, yet to be classified.

=========

Subject: NOT Plum Island Today & the Art/Science of the Bubble...
Date: 5/6/00 9:26 PM
To: massbird listserv, massbird@world.std.com

You can thank the "bubble."

The RI Swallow-tailed Kite on Friday AND the Mississippi Kite on Saturday -- Pilgrim Heights/Cape Cod MA --
are both courtesy of the first warm air bubble of the Spring of 2000. Check out Melisa Lowe's forthcoming
report on Saturday's Pilgrim Heights Hawk Watch for the rest of the story.

On Saturday, May 6th, I went to Pilgrim Heights to watch hawks even though there
was a predicted sea breeze because we were being romanced by the first warm bubble
of air of the Spring bringing the possibility of Kites into our area.

In 1999, this first bubble didn't arrive until Memorial Day weekend -- May 29-31,
1999. That bubble produced a Mississippi Kite photographed by Mike Beath and
Barbara Hannigan [on hand today for a repeat performance]. On the first weekend in
June '99, we all returned to the Cape for a couple of Mississippi Kites and a
Swallow-tailed Kite too.

The delivery of southern species into our area has been described as these spp.
over-shooting their ranges and/or as scouts [like Lewis and Clark: unattached,
single males, explorers] wintering just a little North of their peers' range and
then moving beyond the places where their species call home, maybe, just maybe
looking for a new home. Thus extending the range.

The delivery system for this drug of choice for the birder on the lookout for
southern rarities is the first significant bowing of the jet stream well North of
the US/Canadian border... the more dramatic [read "North"] this upcurve is, the
more dramatic the warming air mass [bubble] will be and thus the excitement level
for the occasional box on the checklist. Turn on the Weather Channel and wait
around for the jet stream map or go online to see it at:
http://www.intellicast.com/LocalWeather/World/UnitedStates/JetStream/

All Summer, this is the jet stream pattern. As Fall turns to Winter this high
altitude steering current edges South cutting off the warmer temps.

In the Spring, watch and wait. When you see the significant warm weather coming...
see the warm weather birds coming too.

What are you doing tomorrow?

=========

Subject: Bubble Up, Part Deux...
Date: 5/7/00 7:31 AM
To: massbird listserv, massbird@world.std.com

As described, when the jet stream snaps North, New England AND Southern Ontario can
have a shared experience...

Late nite readers have noted from my previous "bubble" posting, that the 'Lewis and
Clark' reference might not be understood in the current MCAS environment. So, have
you all heard of the turn of the century, unattached, single male explorer by the
name of Leonardo DiCaprio?

And another MASSBIRDER wants to know...

>What happens when the jet stream is directly over us?

Good one: I talked about it to the North of us and to the South of us. In the 'over
us' pattern, we are visited, over and over again, by fast moving but wet weather
systems. The jet stream becomes the "steering currents" and directs the center of
every low pressure system right at us.

If the jet stream should split into two currents, putting us in between -- like last week
-- we find ourselves in an unpredictable storm track, where the forecast from the
ten o'clock news has changed by the morning commute.

Again, check out that jet stream online or on the tube.
-------------

>Subject: [BIRDHAWK] KITE ALERT! - Mississippi + Am. Swallowtail Kite
> at Point Pelee, Ontario Canada
>Date: 5/7/00 5:45 AM
>Received: 5/7/00 6:51 AM
>From: Mike Street, mikestreet@HWCN.ORG
>To: HMANA Mailing List, BIRDHAWK@LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU
>
>An adult Mississippi Kite was seen shortly before noon, Saturday, May 6
>and for the rest of the afternoon at Point Pelee National Park near
>Leamington, ON. At 5:15PM birders watching for the Mississippi were
>stunned to see an adult American Swallowtailed Kite appear over the park's
>visitor centre. Naturally, everyone is hoping that these birds wil be
>around again today.
>
>Other raptors seen at Pelee yesterday included Sharp-shinned and Cooper's
>Hawks, Merlin and Peregrine Falcon.
>
>Who says looking for passerines is boring?
>
>Mike
>
>Mike Street
>Ancaster, Ontario, Canada
>mikestreet@hwcn.org

=========

Subject: A Hawk Diversion...
Date: 5/27/99 10:37 PM
To: massbird listserv, massbird@world.std.com

Deeply warped hawk watchers, in need of medication, continue going out now and into early June... planning for June hawk watching is clearly a symptom that indicates treatment may be ineffective. For hawks and hawk watchers, the outer Cape is a diversion.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday [5/25-27/99] three hawk watchers known only by their initials [TC, MB, JT], to save them from scorn, covered Pilgrim Heights in North Truro -- my old hawk watch from the mid-80's -- and here's what they saw...

The following hawks were deemed to be migrating over the last three days:

36 Turkey Vulture
28 Osprey [22 on Wed.]
2 Bald Eagle
29 Sharp-shinned Hawk [20 on Wed.]
1 Cooper's Hawk
54 Broad-winged Hawk [35 on Thurs.]
2 Red-shouldered Hawk
1 Red-tailed Hawk
4 American Kestrel
3 Merlin
1 Peregrine Falcon

The hawks were almost all immatures. In addition, resident Harriers were present and displaying on all days and there was a Kestrel on familiar perches throughout.

=========
Subject: Hawk Diversions Continued...
Date: 6/5/99 8:12 PM
To: massbird listserv, massbird@world.std.com

For hawks and hawk watchers, the outer Cape is a diversion... still. June has only begun but it was pretty interesting out at Pilgrim Heights in North Truro over the weekend.

Let's not bury the lead [as the journalists say]: 2 MISSISSIPPI KITES, 1 SWALLOW-TAILED KITE, 14 BALD EAGLES, and a total of OVER 120 migrating hawks were counted, mostly on Saturday [6/5/99] with the stragglers passing early Sunday morning.

Chronically missing work, wandering attention when indoors -- only those addicted to hawk watching would even think about going out and standing in one place for hawks. Well that's all some people think about and that's why we can only use their initials here... the boss might be reading this. Three hawk watchers known only by their initials [TC, MB, BH], to save them from scorn, covered Pilgrim Heights in North Truro -- my old hawk watch from the mid-80's -- and here's what they saw...

Up until 11:30 am DST on Saturday, the only kites in the air had strings attached. But within two minutes all that changed. First a Mississippi Kite came into view low over the Salt Meadow overlook at Pilgrim Heights in the company of a young Broadwing, an Osprey and a Turkey Vulture. It was a classic subadult -- basically looking like an adult smokey-gray bird but with checkered brown immie feathers at the wrists. Then another. Both birds continued out toward P'Town, not very high, hawking dragonflies on the way.

Just forty-five minutes later, a "kettle" of 5 juvenile Bald Eagles appeared over the marsh on the oceanside. Over the next hour, five more Balds in their first Eagle plumages worked by... ALL at or below eye level. You see, on the right winds [anything with a westerly component] the ancient dune along the top of the Small's Swamp Trail functions as a Pennsylvania hawk ridge in miniature. We were two birds short of a hundred on Saturday, not counting local Harriers or Kestrels or birds on a reverse course [following their tour of the Province Lands].

Sometimes leftovers can be pretty tasty. At 7:30am DST on Sunday, a Swallow-tailed Kite was observed and subsequently photographed. The morning also had two different Bald Eagles sitting on dune lines off toward High Head. They later moved off to the north. The flight was early and light.

The following hawk species were deemed to be migrating this weekend: Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Swallow-tailed Kite, Mississippi Kite, Bald Eagle, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Merlin, plus Northern Harrier and American Kestrel in residence. So we got to see 13 species of raptors!

Speaking of photographs, I verified that a raptor on a series of photos taken on Memorial Day [Monday, May 31st] from Pilgrim Heights was indeed what the hawk watchers believed it was -- Mississippi Kite. This confirms and makes a belated report of another Mississippi Kite. "They" also took shots of the Swallow-tailed Kite on this Sunday.

And hey, it's only June 6th... are we having fun yet?