Date: 9/15/20 12:17 pm
From: Joseph Kennedy <josephkennedy36...>
Subject: [texbirds] Smith Point Hawk Watch Saturday with Hawk
Did the hawk watch at Smith Point on Saturday the 12th. Had lots of hawks
for the day. A good north wind brought good numbers of birds down to the
tower without a whole lot of variety but this was my first trip for the
year with birds actually overhead. Offsetting the hawks was a shortfall in
the number of land bird and other water bird migrants including the
swallows but ruby-throated hummingbirds entertained.

Things died after lunch as if someone pulled the spigot. Kept checking the
radar to see if rain was keeping the birds grounded or going around and saw
nothing except a couple of little spots of green. About 3:30 a small shower
hit the tower but when I drove home there was heavy rain all the way back
to the intersection with 1985 and later the radar got very bright all of a
sudden so even modern electronics can have problems if something blocks the
radar signal

Started the day with a local broad-winged hawk.

The hawk was hunting in its territory it has held for 3 weekends now and
has learned to check under security lights for grounded bugs early in the
morning along with a single cooper's hawk.

3 early broad-wings got up with the early mississippi kites but went back
down and it was an hour later that numbers started to show up

Flocks of 100 and 200 birds traded back and forth sort of getting together
until a sheet of say 1300 birds came by. Groups up t0 800 hung around to
the east for a couple of hours and finally disappeared. A good part of the
birds were adult whereas most birds in a couple of weeks at the peak of
broad-wing migration will be young of the year. Both can be together

This youngster is well marked

And adults also vary in the amount of markings

Kites are early birds compared to the soaring buteos. Had a couple hundred
mississippi kites for the day.

Almost all were young of the year birds

At least one swallow-tailed kite was with the first mississippi hawk group.
even at a distance the very long wings stand out even when the tail does
not show well

Speaking of kites, several hung out just west of the tower for a couple of
weeks. One has the longest tail of any kite I have seen at Smith Point

It was joined by a smaller bird that repeatedly dove on its larger neighbor

Later in the morning a group of 80 anhingas went over the tower. All or
almost all were males. They passed several times and were joined by
additional groups of 50 or so anhinga until my last count totalled 500.

Note that all of the birds were flying with open mouths

And some opened wider than others

In any event every picture I took had only open-mouthed birds. They came
closer to the tower than the hawks

In contrast to the anhinga I only had 50 white ibis on the day with the
largest flock of 21 birds. A single magnificent frigatebird. Very few brown
pelicans but some terns were feeding out in the bay. Saw no ducks but some
distant hunters were after teal at sunrise.

No olive-sided flycatchers for much of the morning but several mississippi
kites, red-tailed, red-shouldered, cooper's and sharp-shinned hawks perched
in the favorite trees. Finally a single bird arrived

And then 3 were spaced out in the same trees for a bit.

Working along the side roads and Robbins Park before and after the count,
added very few birds to the day. Only had 2 black and 4 turkey vultures but
the hawk list did have 10 species most with singles or a couple of birds.
The raggedy red-tail I first saw Tuesday was harassed by both cooper's and
sharp-shinned hawks and then a broad-wing joined the fun. A mississippi
kite came the closest to actually hitting the bird. An attempt to perch did
not last long as a cooper's hawk encouraged elsewhere perching.

A flock of 4 baltimore orioles was leaving for the mainland early as were a
couple of eastern kingbirds but only a small numbers of dickcissels and
gnatcatchers. Swallows were very scarce all day but I had barn and cliff.

A great half day until the rain to the east cut off the birds.

Joseph C. Kennedy
on Buffalo Bayou in West Houston

Join us on Facebook!