Observation start time: 05:30:00 Observation end time: 16:30:00 Total observation time: 11 hours
Official Counter: Ted Mara
Observers: Bob Secatore, David Goodine, Geoff Wood, John Cannizzo, Judd Nathan, Mark Schoene, Paul Roberts, Tom Graham, Ursula Goodine
Visitors: Visitors included Jerry Bertrand, one of America's leading birders and conservationists.
Weather: A cold front entered the region, producing W/NW winds at 5-20 mph and temps of 6-15C. Cloud cover started low, around 20%, became 75-90% in late morning, and 30-20% in late afternoon. Visibility 20 km.
Raptor Observations: A truly spectacular day for having "only" 72 hawks and no rarities. Kestrels "owned" the day, entertaining hawk watchers with frequent feeding frenzies, hovering and perching every possible place, including close to us. We saw male and female kestrels hovering in the same "column," providing excellent lessons on sexual dimorphism in kestrels. Three kestrels hovering, rotating north and south, time and again, switching places in the sequence. Kestrels catching bugs and sitting down eating them in full view. Three female kestrels hunting cooperatively, pursuing a very small passerine (kinglet maybe?) higher and higher, while each kestrel made a swift pass at the passerine, succeeded by each of the other kestrels in a repeated "machine-gun" style tail chase. The small bird escaped...barely. Then there was the immature Peregrine Falcon that stooped on a female kestrel time and again - steep, incredibly fast stoops - missing. The Peregrine than sauntered past us in incredible light, revealing an immature bird. Photos confirmed it had a bulging crop, so it was just jerking the kestrel around. If that wasn't enough, one imm Cooper's Hawk rocketed past the platform about 6 inches off the ground, and as fast as a Merlin. A second Coop made up for that. It was as obliging a Cooper's as I've ever seen, soaring leisurely out in front of us, passing slowly in circles low over us with excellent dorsal and ventral views. Photos were incredible. What a day, though there were fewer migrants than we expected considering the weather conditions.
Non-raptor Observations: The highlight was 8 Rusty Blackbirds "swinging doors" past the platform. THe second highlight was a lone male Purple Martin, a scout, arriving and exploring almost every gourd on the Martin pole. He sallied back and forth, trying gourd after gourd unsuccessfully, as the doors are blocked to keep out House Sparrows. (We've notified Sue McGrath of the arrival.) Third highlight was the unusual number of the uncommon to rare Spadefoot Toad. The past two days a few have been heard during the day, primarily around the Lot 2 boardwalk, and at sunset an estimated 500+ have been heard there.
Predictions: The forecasts are for moderate southerly winds the next two days, being somewhat stronger on Saturday. It looks like excellent conditions for migration inland, including maybe the first real waves of Broadwings, but it does not sound good for Plum unless the S/SSW winds shift around to be more westerly. Sunday is going to be even warmer and perhaps even better inland. A cold front is forecast for Monday, which looks to be the next day very favorable for hawk migration on PLm. ======================================================================== Report submitted by Paul Roberts (<phawk254...>) Plum Island MA information may be found at: http://massbird.org/EMHW/