Monday, February 29, 2016

Monday February 29, 2016-First Large Kettles of the Season

Judy, Dick, Mel, Steve, Hal

Swainson's Hawks-76
Turkey Vultures-

Calls this morning and yesterday evening indicated that several hawks were in town. This morning around 30 Swainson's Hawks were in fields to the north of the Date Farm. By 9A they were ringing up over the solar field. They eventually streamed northwest. They were visible from the count site but not as easy to observe as the old site. This could change as the season progresses. Scouts are definitely needed to get an accurate count. Check the youtube at

Evening Watch:
We had a few waves of Swainson's that came into the Date Farm and Roadrunner Club. About 40 plus hawks probably.

Tomorrow wind should be calm so lift-off should be around 9A. To be on the safe side come out by 8:30A. Borrego Valley Rd about 2 miles north of Palm Canyon Drive should be a good place to view the hawks when they take off.

Rufous Morph Swainson's Hawk-Courtesy of Matthew Binns

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Our First Week of Hawkwatching is Almost Complete-February 22-27, 2016

Monday February 22-Herb and Judy
Tuesday February 23-Steve
Wednesday February 24-Laura
Thursday February 25-Hal
Friday February 26-Herb
Saturday February 27-Rose

Monday February 22-1 Red-tailed Hawk
Tuesday February 23-1 Turkey Vulture
Wednesday February 24-O
Thursday February 25-3 Swainson's Hawks; 3 Turkey Vultures
Friday February 26-0
Saturday February 27-12 Swainson's Hawks

We are off to a slow start with hope that things will pick up soon. We did have a few raptors migrate on Feb. 25. Our first nice kettle was observed on Saturday Feb. 27 as a kettle of Swainson's Hawks developed just before 9A. It was encouraging to watch as the hawks kettled and streamed to a point west of the watch. We are still getting used to the new watch site. So far we have not lost hawks but are a bit further from the flight path. If hawks move east of our on the way out of the valley we will have an observation advantage over the old site.

Question of the day: What is a kettle and what is a stream. When enough raptors begin to circle upward in a spiral motion the form of the group is similar to a kettle. It's a far stretch but the term is used often when a group of hawks gain altitude. When the circling hawks reach a point where the bubble of heated air  (thermal) begins to thin out, they begin to fly in a straight line toward their migration direction. The hawks fan out and can easily be counted. On occasion a mass of hawks will take the shape of an undulating tornado. Usually the number of hawks that make up a tornado is more than 300. We have had tornados with more than 500 hawks!

TV Getting Ready-HC
First Swainson's Hawk Kettle of the Season-HC
Desert Lily Near the Hawkwatch-HC
Sunset from the Night Site-Laura Webb

Saturday, February 20, 2016

2016 is Here-So Are Some Hawks-February 20, 2016

Migration of raptors has begun in Borrego Valley. Last weekend 11 Swainson's Hawks showed up. Reports of small groups of Turkey Vultures continue to roll in. Today I found 3 SW's and 8 Turkey Vultures. One Swainson's Hawk was very approachable for photos.

The watch will officially begin on Monday February 22. We have moved the day count site to another location in the park. Continue north past the old watch on DiGiorgio Rd until the pavement ends. We are located on a large mound to the right of the road. We will have our first evening watch on Borrego Valley Rd on Sunday evening February 21. We'll be there around 5P. From Palm Canyon drive east of town to a 4 way stop sign. Turn left on Borrego Valley Rd. Drive about 1.25 miles to the evening watch.

Our New Hawkwatch Mound-HC

Swainson's Hawk next to DiGiorgio Rd.