Observation start time: 06:45:00 Observation end time: 15:45:00 Total observation time: 9 hours
Official Counter: Gabriel Mapel
Observers: Brenda Tekin, Dave Hunter, Vic Laubach
Visitors: Mary & Daniel Mapel, Tom Mizell, Jennifer Jowdy, Rollie Lawless, Marlene Condon, Robert Butler, Peter Van Acker, and a few others.
Weather: Finally, a beautiful day! No fog and very few clouds early this morning. Lots of high clouds (70% cloud cover) from 9am onwards. A perfect sky for spotting Broad-wings! Low, dark clouds moved in by 3pm and fast approaching thunderstorms shut us down at 3:45. Good visibility with some haze in the distance. Very light south breezes for most of the day, except from 10am-2pm when we had moderate WSW breezes. 18.3-23.8C temps.
Raptor Observations: We are at the tail end of what is generally our 10-day "peak" migration season for Broad-winged Hawks. Due to Hurricane Florence and other rainstorms, we have had relatively low numbers this year. Up until today, we had tallied just over 8,000 Broad-wings total this season, a far cry from our 20,000+ season average. Well, A LOT changed today as we more than doubled our 2018 season total and landed the third highest single day count of Broad-wings in the history of our hawk watch! In fact, today was the biggest BW day since 1986! Except for a brief midday lull between 12-1pm, the Broad-wings were coming through NONSTOP all day long! They were flying all over the sky with nice kettles and many long "rivers" of hawks. At times, three counters were counting three different large groups simultaneously! Although some were distant "specks" seen in scopes, a fair share of them came right overhead for amazing views! Hourly BW Count: 0 (6:45-8), 21 (8-9), 695 (9-10), 1299 (10-11), 1564 (11-12), 87 (12-1), 1359 (1-2), 4992 (2-3), 137 (3-3:45).
A great day for eagles and Sharp-shinned Hawks, but in addition to the Broad-wings, the other highlight today was the Peregrine Falcon flight! Today's count of 12 is our second highest all-time single day count. Peregrine flight: eight adults (7:50, 8:48, 9:22, 10:31, 10:53, 11:29, 2:25, 3:07), two immature (11:26, 11:46), and two unaged (8:43, 1:32). One of the immature Peregrines spent about 5 minutes dive-bombing Broad-wings over the ridge to the north before heading south!
Two Golden Eagles (11:12 adult and 3:07 immature). Bald Eagle flight: 13 adults (10:33, 11:02, 11:24, 12:24, 12:45, 12:57, 12:59, 1:11, 1:59, 2:05, 2:05, 2:11, 2:24), one 4th-YR (12:59), and two 1st-YR (12:57 and 3:03). Three adult female Harriers (9:57, 10:50, 10:57). Two unaged Merlins (10:58 and 12:15). First Raptor: 7:03 SS, Last Raptor: 3:29 BW.
Non-raptor Observations: It was wonderful to see so many Monarch Butterflies today with 1,500+ counted migrating over! Other highlights included: 2 Yellow-billed and 1 Black-billed Cuckoo, 106 Chimney Swifts, 2 hummingbirds, woodpeckers (2 Red-headed, 4 Red-bellied, 1 Hairy, 19 Flickers), 1 Great Crested Flycatcher, 289 Blue Jays, 1 Red-breasted Nuthatch, 1 Swainson's Thrush, 17 robins, warblers (1 C. Yellowthroat, 6 Cape May, 1 Bay-breasted, 1 BT Blue, plus many unidentified flying over), 4 Scarlet Tanagers, and 6 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. ======================================================================== Report submitted by Gabriel Mapel (<birdmangabriel...>) Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch information may be found at: http://www.rockfishgaphawkwatch.org