Hawkwatch - Monday, October 16, 2017

What a SPECTACULAR way to start the week! The cold front came through New Jersey a little later than expected so it was a soggy, foggy, chilly start to the day but I knew it was going to be a great day because American Kestrels (and a few other raptors) were moving in the rain. Once the front finally cleared and the rain stopped, migration cranked into high gear with droves of Kestrels and Sharp-shinned Hawks. While Peregrine migration seems to have peaked, we still saw good numbers of Merlin (97) and ended the day with 828 American Kestrels! Not only is this an excellent count this late in the season (Kestrels typically migrate sooner than other raptors), but it adds to our already impressive Kestrel total for the season which is now at 6696.

The super fun flight got even MORE exciting when Trish Miller spotted a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK slowly making its way in the direction of the state park. While distant at first, it crept closer and closer to the platform because suddenly stooping and going out of site. But low and behold, it stooped on one of the Cape May Raptor banding stations and was caught by the professionals, who so graciously brought the beautiful bird up to the platform for visitors to see up close.

All-in-all, just an awesomely fun October raptor flight with some of the best people to help and enjoy it with. Check out the numbers below!

Cape May
Cape May Point, New Jersey, USA
Daily Raptor Counts: Oct 16, 2017

Species            Day's Count    Month Total   Season Total
------------------ ----------- -------------- --------------
Black Vulture                0              0              0
Turkey Vulture               0             45            196
Osprey                      55            516           2591
Bald Eagle                   6             60            232
Northern Harrier            36            127            356
Sharp-shinned Hawk         688           1715           6884
Cooper's Hawk               83            385            961
Northern Goshawk             0              0              0
Red-shouldered Hawk          0              1              3
Broad-winged Hawk            6            403           1048
Red-tailed Hawk              6             29             86
Rough-legged Hawk            1              1              1
Golden Eagle                 0              0              0
American Kestrel           828           1266           6696
Merlin                      97            725           1770
Peregrine Falcon            10            695           1032
Unknown Accipiter            0              0              1
Unknown Buteo                0              0              0
Unknown Falcon               0              0              4
Unknown Eagle                0              0              0
Unknown Raptor               0              0              0
Mississippi Kite             0              0              1

Total:                    1816           5968          21862

Observation start time: 06:00:00 
Observation end   time: 17:00:00 
Total observation time: 10.83 hours

Official Counter:        Melissa Roach

Locally rare here in Cape May Point, this Rough-legged Hawk shows its classic white base to the tail
and pale patches near the wing tips. 
Rough-legged Hawks, or Roughies as they are often called, are just as beautiful in the hand.
Licensed raptor banders Alex (holding bird) and Caylen (far right) give a brief demo about the Cape May Raptor Banding Project and how special this catch really is.
And then she (yes, the banders aged and sexed it) was free to go about her migrating business.
Let's not forget the other birds from the day. Here goes a Merlin zipping by.
Onlookers were on edge as this Cooper's Hawk (left) relentlessly tried to nab a Belted Kingfisher over Bunker Pond.
Don't worry, the Kingfisher bested the Cooper's Hawk and proudly chattered away after his victory.

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