Compiler: Judy Cinquina Location
The fall of 2010 saw 12,061 migrants pass the Mount Peter Hawk Watch, our third best tally since 1958. In addition to Bald Eagles almost doubling the record set just last year, numbers for most species were above average. Conducted daily from September 1 through November 15, the 469-hour, 70-day count translated to 25.72 hawks per hour, spread out over many days, so that every one of our dedicated volunteers got a piece of the action.
Broad-winged Hawks seemed to veer slightly west of the coast this September, rewarding our lookout with a very healthy 8,531 count, our fifth best count ever. The biggest push began on the 15th with 794, climaxed on the 17th when 2,087 moved through, and ended on the 19th with 1,690, all on northwest winds. A few days of 200+ counts followed, and then light westerly winds wrapped up the major Broad-wing season, producing 593 more. Red-shouldered Hawks broke our 10-year average by 81%, with 94 counted. The majority, 53, were adults, 8 were immature, and 33 were too far out to age. Our best day was October 29 when 23 moved through on strong west winds. This seasonís high Red-tailed Hawk count of 154 occurred two days later on strong west/northwest winds, helping to bring our final total of 574 over our 10-year average. After five consecutive fall seasons without a Rough-legged Hawk, we finally bagged two. Beverly Robertson scored both: a light morph on October 24 and an unknown morph on November 6.
Slightly above average numbers of Sharp-shinned and Cooperís Hawks passed over our lookout: 1,803 and 119 respectively. Sharpies broke the 100 mark only once, with 105 on October 9, while Cooperís never hit two digits. For the first season since 1977, we failed to score a Goshawk
Although the 207 American Kestrels tallied this season is above our 10-year average, itís not even half the number recorded in the Ď60ís, 70ís, and in 1980. Because many were far out or backlit, few were sexed: 35 male, 46 female, 112 unknown. Mount Peter is not a lookout known for its falcon flight, so the 22 Merlins recorded was a good number and above our 10-year average. The 10 Peregrines noted was rather average. Carol Linguanti garnered our best Merlin score with three on strong west/northwest winds, October 22. Denise Farrell was rewarded with three Peregrines, also on strong west/northwest winds, October 7.
Osprey continued an upward swing with 203 noted. Don Leak and B.A. McGrath came in with the best tally of 27 on mild northwest winds, September 29. Although above our 10-year average, the 64 N. Harriers counted was disappointing: 8 male, 10 female, 17 immature, 29 unknown.
Our 2010 watch will be remembered for the spectacular Bald Eagle flight that propelled this rebounding raptor over our lookout on 40 days of our 70-day watch. Every volunteer and many visitors enjoyed the new season eagle record of 89: 38 adult, 50 immature, and 1 undetermined. Don Leak and Herb Stein trounced our old daily record on September 15, observing 10 Bald Eagles, accompanying our first big push of Broad-wings on strong northwest winds. Denise Farrell noted one eagle carrying an undetermined object in its talons, October 7. She also recorded the first two of the 18 Bald Eagles that went north and werenít counted. Her two first-year eagles moved right over the lookout, locked talons and spiraled down before moving north. All tolled, 6 adult and 12 immature were observed heading north, while four of them were suspected of later heading south. Eight Golden Eagles were also a welcome treat: 2 adult, 5 immature, 1 undetermined. Ken Witkowski tied our daily record with three, our best day, on moderate west winds, October 30.
Both species of vulture hunt around the lookout daily and arenít counted until mid-October and then only when they are flying high and on a direct southerly course. Migrant vultures are probably undercounted by our observers. At least two local C. Ravens were noted often. On September 6, Tom Millard reported that one of two performed barrel rolls as they went by.
Other migrants were also noted over Mount Peter. Denise Farrell had our best Canada Goose count of over 2,000, October 2. On October 11, Tom Millard counted 34 small Canada Geese in a skein with one large goose. Beverly Robertson spotted three skeins of Snow Geese on October 26, our only report of this species. She also counted approximately 12 Tundra Swans in one skein that day, an uncommon migrant over Mount Peter. No Brant were noted. A mere nine Ruby-throated Hummingbirds went through in September, but Monarch butterflies were abundant. Although we were often too busy with Broad-wings to count them, approximately 900 Monarchs were tallied, one even showing up on November 14. Ajit Antony garnered the best tally of 203 on September 14. Non-feathered subjects of interest included one Black Bear seen by Rob Stone, September 11, and one Red Fox resting in the grass west of the platform, reported by Denise Farrell. Other interesting sightings included:
September 2 2 Red-breasted Nuthatch (seen irregularly through 10/9, with 4 noted 10/3) first Black-throated Green Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler
September 4 250-300 C. Grackles
September 7 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
September 14 25 Chimney Swifts, first E. Phoebe, 2 Olive-sided Flycatchers
September 16 Ovenbird, Blue-winged Warbler
September 18 first 2 Blue-headed Vireos, 2 C. Nighthawks, Cape May Warbler
September 19 first C. Yellowthroat
September 20 first Scarlet Tanager, first 2 Blackpoll Warblers, first Yellow-rumped Warbler
September 21 first Purple Finch (migrants off & on through 10/29; on 10/3 had 24 mostly adult males, eating cedar berries & singing) 1 Great Egret
September 22 first Palm Warbler
September 23 82 Blue Jays (150 counted 9/26, 200 more 10/2, 1,758 tallied 10/3, and 211 on 10/10)
September 26 first C. Loon (high of 5 on 10/30)
October 2 first Golden-crowned Kinglet
October 3 Great Blue Heron, first Ruby-crowned Kinglet, first 2 D.C. Cormorants (15 on 10/12)
October 13 C. Merganser
October 14 25 Chipping Sparrows
October 22 first Pine Siskin (12 on 10/29)
October 24 Song Sparrow
October 25 first White-throated Sparrow
October 26 2 Gray-cheeked Thrush
October 28 3 Hermit Thrush
October 30 first Juncos
November 1 Belted Kingfisher, 4 migrant Am. Crows
November 7 Fox Sparrow
We are deeply grateful to the many, many volunteers who kept this lookout going in lean years so we could enjoy a migration beyond their expectations this 2010 season. No one in the Ď60ís, 70ís or early 80ís dreamed we would count 10 Bald Eagles in one season, never mind in one day! The eight Golden Eagles and the above average counts for buteos were merely icing on the cake. A special thanks goes to Bill Connolly for recording data that would otherwise have been missed, to Denise Farrell who deserves special mention for manning the watch on 16 days, and to all our many visitors who got us through the lulls and helped spot in-coming migrants. Our cheerful and hard-working clean-up crew consisted of Mimi Brauch, Denise Farrell, Tom Millard, and Gene Tappan. Thank you all. Special thanks to Tom for repairing our platform and putting up and taking down our box. Our daily data can be accessed at ww.hawkcount.org, thanks to Ajit Antony. We are indebted to Denise for historical data input into hawkcount. We hope to complete that project in the next few years. Finally, we must thank the New York Department of Environmental Conservation for overseeing regular clean-up crews at Mount Peter and to the Fyke Nature Association of Bergen County, NJ for sponsoring the watch. Mount Peter is the oldest continually run, all-volunteer fall watch in the country.
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