Sunday, September 21, 2014

Broad winged Hawk Migration at Holiday Beach

A few days ago, (Thursday Sept 18th, 2014) I went to Holiday Beach after work because there was a nice north wind blowing and I had a hunch that it might be a good hawk-watching day. Sure enough, as I was birding and casually walking around at Holiday Beach, I looked up into the sky with my binoculars and saw huge kettles of Broad Winged Hawks (the scene above is barely visible to the naked eye - you need optics and a good zoom lens to appreciate such kettles - especially later in the day when the flight elevation rises). It was a great afternoon - 22, 600 raptors has flown over the hawkwatching tower - a huge day for Broad winged Hawks and a great diversity of raptors as well.

A pair of Snowy Egrets that have been ongoing gave nice views and posed nicely next to Great Egrets in the pond below the tower. Several Common Nighthawks flew overhead as well. Several American Kestrels flew by the tower eating Green Darner Dragonflies.

Nom Nom Nom - Kestrel munching on freshly caught dragonfly

This Peregrine falcon knows he's at the top of the food chain. This bird took a few swoops at other raptors nearby.

More kettles some with 50 to 100, some the 500+ birds went by for the next 2 hours. Amazing to witness. I think every birder should witness this Broad winged Hawk migration ... the problem is timing though. I would suggest keeping an eye out on hawkwatching reports during mid-September, and go within 1-2 days of an increased surge of Broad wings. Another thing to consider is that North / Northwest winds always make for a good day of hawkwatching in Mid-September as well.

More Kettles - I only had my 250mm lens... Not my 400mm

Saturday morning, I went to Point Pelee and it was surprisingly quiet - at least for me. I ended up walking Delaurier/Cactus Trail and noticed a few warblers, my first southbound Ruby crowned Kinglet and a few of the more common warblers.  I took the tram to the tip and met Jeremy Bensette on the way. Josh Vandermeulen, Dave Szmyr, Jeremy Hatt and Blake Mann were doing a lake watch with great results on SE winds. I must admit, I don't have too much patience for lake watching... and I didn't have a scope like the rest of the group but Josh soon called out a nice Parasitic Jaeger that was surprisingly close to the west beach path that we were standing on.

Nice find Josh! My second Parasitic Jaeger and first at Point Pelee
I left Pelee at about noon. I tried to bird the new Juniper Savanah near the parking lot but it was quiet. Lots of Sharped Shinned Hawks flying overhead.  I ended up just looking at some very common butterflies. A single Monarch was present. They had a pretty big flight... earlier in the week.

I've never really confidently identified an Orange Sulphur from a Clouded... Two very common butterflies - But this one seems to be an easy ID - if you have a net or a camera with a fast shutter rate.
Cabbage White on Sky blue Aster?

Good birding!


Did you know that September 6th was World Shorebird Day? Check out this video that Cornell Ornithology posted about Bar tailed Godwit migration research.


  1. Cool photo of the kestrel!
    Those Snowy Egrets came come this way now. They have worn out Holiday Beach! lol.

  2. Perfect timing on the Jaeger! Agree with Blake about the Kestrel pic. Very nice!
    I've dipped 3 times on the Snowy Egrets. I'm just not meant to see them this time around, I guess.

    1. Thanks Blake & Karen. Karen - The Snowy's can be elusive. I have missed the "Gore-Hill" Collared Doves 4 times - so I sense your frustration.



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