Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The End of the Season-April 4-10, 2017

April 4-Hal/Judy
April 5-Laura
April 6-Hal
April 7-Judy/Herb
April 8-Laura
April 9-Herb/Judy
April 10-Herb/Judy

April 4-5 SW's; 3 TV's
April 5-1 SW's; 1 TV
April 6-0
April 7-1 SW
April 8-1 TV; 1 Unidentified Raptor
April 9-0
April 10- 4 SW's; 1 TV

We decided to end the season early as we did not have enough leaders to cover the remaining days. Next season we hope to provide a stipend for an experienced hawk counter. We are dedicating this season to Steve Bier. For the past 7 years, Ranger Steve was an essential part of the hawkwatch. His knowledge of Borrego Valleys vast assemblage of plants and animals provided school children through adults with an endless stream of awareness. His quick wit, remarkable eyes, photo skills and knowledge of natural history were endless.

The final totals for the season:
Turkey Vultures-96-The lowest number in 15 years, well below the average
Cooper's Hawks-2
Red-shouldered Hawks-3
Swainson's Hawks-11,690-A record, overshadowing 2016's record season (8,917)
Ferruginous Hawks-1
Peregrine Falcon-1
Unknown Raptor-1
Total Raptors Counted: 11,795
Here are some photos of Swainson's Hawks and a charged up TV

Mac Stone

Hal Cohen-oh oh! Hot Feet Coming Soon
Daniel Garcia
Daniel Garcia
Larry Master
Larry Master

Monday, April 3, 2017

April 3, 2017 More Hawks in Town


Swainson's Hawks-12

Hawks were high after takeoff and difficult to follow.

Evening Watch:
At least 45 Swainson's Hawks flew in this evening. They remained in flight until 7:20pm. The flight took the hawks very far west before returning to the Date Farm. A few hundred ravens chased the hawks relentlessly.

Tomorrow (Tuesday April 4) wind should be light so lift-off around 8-9:30am. Best viewing probably from the evening watch on Borrego Valley Rd.
Juvenile Light Morph SW-Larry Master, www.masterimages.org

Adult Make Light Intermediate SW

Sunday, April 2, 2017

March 30-April 2-Slow Migration But Still Some Hawks in Town

March 30-Hal
March 31-Hal
April 1-Laura
April 20-Herb and Judy

March 30-0
March 31-1 Swainson's Hawk
April 1-3 Swainson's Hawks
April 2-100 Swainson's Hawks

On Sunday April 2 several hawks came up from the east and at least 10 from the date farm. All in all it was a good day for viewers.

On a sad note, one of our leaders died a few days ago. Ranger Steve Bier will always be remembered as the guy with the eyes. Steve had the ability to spot hawks without binocs when everyone scanned to find them with scopes and binocs. He will always be remembered for his knowledge of just about everything that moved in nature as well as flowers. This season is dedicated to Steve. We miss you.

Evening Watch:
This evening around 35 hawks were counted coming to the date farm. Hawks arriving now through the end of the season are probably coming from Argentina.

The fact that hawks are coming to the date farm, a return to the usual pattern, indicates that caterpillars are no longer in abundance. Tomorrow if the predicted wind arrives 12-15mph, the hawks will get up and leave between 7-9am.

A Swainson's with some caterpillars in the crop-Larry Master, www.masterimages.org.
Typical wing fold of a SW for a glide-Larry Master, www.masterimages.org.
Adult Light Morph SWLarry Master, www.masterimages.org.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March 28-29-Is Migration Slowing Down?

March 28-Hal
March 29-Laura

March 28-0
March 29-160 Swainson's Hawks; 6 Turkey Vultures

It appears that migration is slowing down. The evening of March 28th did see a group of SW's descend into the valley. There are still caterpillars present in the valley. This may attract more hawks. It's hard to imagine more hawks after the record breaking numbers that we are experiencing. Today March 29th was fun with several small kettles visible to the onlookers.

We keep getting questions about the caterpillars and also the distance that our hawks fly.
1. What is the cycle of life for the White-lined Sphinx Moth
2. Why are the moths called sphinx moths.
3. Where are the hawks coming from and where do they go.

Today we'll work on question number one. See the life cycle below. When the caterpillars burrow into the sand, they pupate into a form that remains underground for 8-15 days before changing into a moth. After spending nights feeding and pollinating wildflowers, they lay eggs on the underside of the flowers. They hatch into very small caterpillars that begin to eat 24 hours a day on the flowers. After growing 3-4 inches in length they begin the cycle again.

Evening Watch: Wednesday March 29:
No hawks encountered but some may come in late.

We'll find out tomorrow.

Pupae and Adult
White-lined Sphinx Moth Eggs
Different color forms-White-lined Sphinx Moth

Monday, March 27, 2017

March 26-27, 2017 Finally Some Great Hawk Views

March 26-Laura assisted by Hal
March 27-Herb/Judy assisted by Hal

March 26-748 Swainson's Hawks
March 27-162 Swainson's Hawks; 6 Turkey Vultures

On Sunday March 26 we had a great migration directly over the alternate watch site. Finally photographers had opportunities to take some great shots. Kettles formed above the watch site and then streamed off. On Monday March 27th the morning developed with a strong NW wind. Hawks flew just above the ground in an attempt to migrate west. The evening site had great views of the hawks. Check out the youtube from Sunday March 26 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuRtvDwijO0

Evening Watch:
Monday March 27, very windy and no apparent hawks coming to roost

? and won't know until tomorrow.

Swainson's Hawk-Adult Male LIght Morph-David Clark
SW Hawk-Adult Male Light Morph-David Clark

Saturday, March 25, 2017

March 23-25, 2017 Continued Incredible Migration Numbers

March 23-Rose/Pam
March 24-Pam/Rose
March 25-Hal

March 23-192 Swainson's Hawks
March 24-174 Swainson's Hawks
March 25-1,248 Swainson's Hawks

The numbers tend to grow and then diminish and grow again. Today March 25 the hawks took off at 7am and migration was over by 8am. It was very windy. One kettle was the largest I have ever experienced in Borrego Springs (I estimate over 1,000 hawks). The stream was so large I couldn't keep up with the count. Our total count for the season now stands at 10,503 Swainson's Hawks. The previous high season was 2016-8,917. We never thought we would crack the 10,000 hawk barrier.

Evening Watch:
This evening initially we had around 150 SW's. At 6pm an additional group of 350 came into view. We now probably have over 500 in town. They are still in the same staging area to the east of Borrego Valley Rd. Photography from a distance does not work. Hopefully the hawks will be more cooperative tomorrow

Hopefully the wind will be down by sunup. If not the hawks will migrate very early (7am). Let's hope we will see hawks move after 8am. Best to visit the counter on Di Giorgio Rd to find out the best vantage point to view the hawks. This site is located a little south of Henderson Canyon rd. It is the alternate watch site. It's a tough year for photo's.

High Stream-HC Not Today

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March 20-22, 2017-Continued Great Hawk Counts

March 20-Herb/Judy
March 21-Steve
March 22-Laura

March 20-711 Swainson's Hawks
March 21-737 SW's
March 22-45 SW's

On March 20 and 22 the hawks moved across Henderson Canyon and along Coyote Mtn. They had roosted near the potato fields in Tamarisks and Creosotes. Most crossed Henderson at the bend in the road located to the east. We hope to exceed our best year count tomorrow March 23.

Below is a map of SW's migration, wintering and breeding grounds. We probably are now seeing the arrival of hawks from Mexico and Central America. As the season progresses hawks will come from Columbia and finally Argentina.

Evening Watch: Wednesday March 22:
This evening around 200 hawks are in town. At least 135 may have stayed over from yesterday. Additionally around 75 came in late (6:15pm)

Wind will be up with a slight break early. Perhaps the hawks will move during the break. It is too hard to predict their movement. Perhaps it will be best to go to the alternative watch site on Di Giorgio Rd about 200 yards south of Henderson Canyon Rd. You can then be instructed as to where to go. It is possible that hawks could take off early in the wind. Today however it was windy and they didn't take off until 10am.
Map of Wintering, Migration and Breeding

Nice panoramas of our count area-Pam Albers

Hal receiving our mascot award from Larry Hendrickson-A Caterpillar

A 3 inch Caterpillar on a Popcorn Flower-HC

Yes there are still flowers-A secret spot-3/22/17-HC