A Golden Day at Hawk Watch - 12 Nov 2023

Yesterday's Detroit River Hawk Watch was cancelled due to the Veteran's Day Holiday, and this morning we were kicking ourselves for not showing up; Rick Nirschl reported 12 Golden Eagles at Pt. Mouillee HQ. But, we would redeem ourselves today.

Jackie Quinones was already set up at the hawk watch when I arrived at 9 am. Don Sherwood appeared moments later and we would assist her with the day's count. Rosemary Brady arrived soon after, and Kevin Georg would arrive shortly after noon coming directly from the airport and his flight from Texas. 

A Great Blue Heron posed nicely in the morning light as I drove into the park. 

An American Tree Sparrow visited us several times during the morning hours.

Bonaparte's Gulls spent most of the day in the channel. We did not see the Little Gull among them.

Red-tailed Hawks would prove to be the bird of the day with 371 flying past the count site. Most were distant and kept our binoculars and scopes hopping the entire day. Their tendency to pass far north of the count site meant few photo opps.

We did get a few Red-shouldered Hawks that appeared among the Red-tailed Hawks.

Sixteen Golden Eagles were a nice rebound from yesterday's missed count. Again, most of the birds were distant but we had one bird that crossed overhead and delighted the afternoon crowd.

We could not forget the American Crows today. "Clouds" of birds appeared over Canada and transformed into hundreds of crows continuously flapping their wings as they passed high overhead against the blue skies. They would number over 1000 by the end of the day.

Observation start time:09:00:00
Observation end time:16:00:00
Total observation time:7 hours
Official CounterDon Sherwood, Don sherwood, Jackie Quinones, Kevin Georg
Observers:Don Sherwood, Jackie Quinones, Jerry Jourdan, Rosemary Brady

We welcome visitors to our site and are very willing to share migration information, photography and ID tips with them. We have cards and pamphlets, so come and talk to us. However, during times of high traffic, requiring extra focus and concentration, we would respectfully ask that everyone use their indoor voices and allow us to fulfill our mission to the best of our abilities. Thank you.

After a particularly long weekend due to the holiday, I am back to give you all the Detroit River Hawk Watch deets. “I” being Jackie Quinones, and “deets” being details. Now that that is settled, let’s get to today’s weather! Today was one of those late fall days that you hope for- obviously chilly, but with a light wind and lots of sunshine. While the wind was predominantly from the south- a direction that normally doesn’t get us any action- it didn’t go above 12 mph. The birds loved these light conditions. It was one of those rare days where Red-tails flapped the way Red-tails should flap, and Red-shoulders flapped the way they should too. I’m getting chills just thinking about it, chef’s kiss! The clouds remained wispy all day. At times only a couple strands, and at other times blanketing most of the sky. The birds stood out amongst them just fine throughout the day.

Raptor Observations:
Today was another great day with over 500 birds, 371 of which were red-tailed hawks. We also got an astounding 16 Golden eagles! I may get some backlash about this, but I still think my BOTD (bird of the day) is the humble Red-shouldered Hawk. Did we get 16 Golden Eagles today? Yes. Did some come close and was it spectacular? Yes again. However! I feel as if Red-shoulders get lost in the whole ordeal. Golden eagles are praised because of their size and beauty. The sheer number of Red-tailed hawks we get each year speaks on its own. Well, today Red-shoulders are getting the recognition they deserve! They were the first birds of the day, and some came super close, which was a great sight to see.

Non-raptor Observations:
Black clouds got closer and then turned into swarms of bugs, which then turned into hundreds of Crows dancing across the sky headed our way. We managed to count just over 1,000 of them; however, at some points of the day there were too many to keep track of. Helpful ID Tip: From far distances, crows can look similarly sized to raptors. To tell them apart from hawks, look at the flapping pattern. Crows won’t stop flapping, whereas raptors stop to glide or soar. When there weren’t crows, our counters noticed some Common Loons which were a nice sight. A flock of balloons floating in the sky brought us joy during the last hour when things slowed down a bit. We did not see the infamous little gull today, but per usual, don’t give up hope!

Tomorrow’s ‘people’ weather is looking pretty great! It will reach mid-50s and remain sunny all day. However, tomorrow’s ‘hawk’ weather has definitely looked better. The winds are predicted to be strong and from the west. AKA not the best conditions for our count site. We shall see if the birds decide to move tomorrow!

Report submitted by Jessie Fletcher (jessica_fletcher@fws.gov)
Detroit River Hawk Watch information may be found at: http://www.detroitriverhawkwatch.org
More information at hawkcount.org: [Site Profile] [Day Summary] [Month Summary]
Count data submitted via Dunkadoo - [Project Details]


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