Date: 4/14/17 5:04 am
From: <reports...>
Subject: [MASSBIRD] Plum Island MA (13 Apr 2017) 72 Raptors
Plum Island MA
Newburyport, Massachusetts, USA
Daily Raptor Counts: Apr 13, 2017

Species Day's Count Month Total Season Total
------------------ ----------- -------------- --------------
Black Vulture 0 0 0
Turkey Vulture 13 71 93
Osprey 1 18 20
Bald Eagle 0 2 3
Northern Harrier 5 80 89
Sharp-shinned Hawk 0 4 4
Cooper's Hawk 2 5 5
Northern Goshawk 0 0 0
Red-shouldered Hawk 0 0 0
Broad-winged Hawk 0 0 0
Red-tailed Hawk 1 6 11
Rough-legged Hawk 0 3 3
Golden Eagle 0 0 0
American Kestrel 47 186 187
Merlin 1 7 9
Peregrine Falcon 1 5 5
Unknown Accipiter 0 0 0
Unknown Buteo 0 0 0
Unknown Falcon 0 1 1
Unknown Eagle 0 0 0
Unknown Raptor 1 4 4

Total: 72 392 434

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 included Jerry Bertrand, one of America's leading birders and

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.

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:

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