Observation start time: 07:00:00 Observation end time: 17:00:00 Total observation time: 10 hours
Official Counter: Mark Schoene, Paul M. Roberts
Observers: Bob Secatore, David Goodine, Geoff Wood, Judd Nathan, Kathryn Chihowski, Maryellen Stone, Ursula Goodine
Visitors: Observers who helped with the count included Bob Stone and Betsy Kernan (good to see you back!). With the parking lot jammed, many visitors stopped to ask what we were looking at, including George, Mike, Iris, and many others who were very interested to learn more about kestrels.
Weather: Instant Summer. A warm front poured instant summer over the region, with temps on the BEACH rising to 87 degrees F! The W/SW winds were in the 20-30 mph range all day, preventing development of a sea breeze and unleashing a flood of beach goers, most of whom did not notice the kestrels rocketing over their heads. The most swim suits seen since Labor Day, but none of them were wet. Oceans temps still in the high 40s F.
Raptor Observations: Our best falcon day of the year so far, with 179 kestrels and 13 Merlins; season's highs for both. Many kestrels were moving unusually fast and at times rather high considering how strong the winds were. There was relatively little feeding compared to the past week. For much of the past week we have had favorable weather but disappointing totals. That was particularly the case Saturday, and this morning started with birds dribbling through. Then the numbers jumped dramatically beginning 1 p.m. EDT. Data from elsewhere in the northeast suggests there were just not many of "our species" in the area, but they began flowing in this afternoon.
We were not able to ID the gender of many kestrels in the morning due to the light combined with the birds altitude and velocity. In the afternoon light we were able to see that a clear majority of the birds we could ID as to gender were female, a significantly higher percentage than has been the case heretofore; will drop in data in an update to this report. Local birds included 4-6 Turkey Vultures, and 4+ Ospreys, and an immature Peregrine put on a good display.
Non-raptor Observations: Relatively few non-raptors seen (counted). HIghlight was 3 Purple Martins, one male and two females exploring the recently opened gourds. However, they did not arrive until 5 p.m. ET! Large numbers of tree and other swallows started migrating north in late afternoon.
Predictions: Tonight a cold front is scheduled to pass, leading to a 20-25 degree (F) drop in temperature and strong NW winds gusting to 25-28 mph. Ideal conditions, weakening in the afternoon. Almost 75% of our birds were seen in the afternoon today, going to 6 pm EDT, giving us hope for strong movement tomorrow morning. Monday currently appears to be the last favorable weather for significant hawk migration at Plum until next weekend (if then), ending a remarkable streak of favorable weather for 8 of 9 days! After Monday, check forecasts looking for the next day with strong winds anywhere out of the west. It looks like the adult harrier migration is rapidly diminishing, and Merlins and accipiters beginning to increase. ======================================================================== Report submitted by Paul Roberts (<phawk254...>) Plum Island MA information may be found at: http://massbird.org/EMHW/