Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Hawks Continue-March 13-March 28, 2018

March 13-Laura Webb

Swainson's Hawks-111
Turkey Vultures-18

3/13/18 we had several hawks on the ground. Some were foraging for flying ants. Aerial feeding was also evident. So the mystery is solved. Having ants available as a food source in dry conditions is unusual. Today the hawks kettled up very late as the weather conditions did not favor migration. It was hot with still air. By 10am however the hawks were on the move.

Evening Watch:
This evening only around 10 Swainson's Hawks were observed.

It might be a bit windy tomorrow early so migration may start by 7am.

Feeding on Ants-Frimmel Smith

Great shot of 5 SW's Together-Frimmel Smith

Feeding on Ants-Frimmel Smith

Ant in the Talons Maybe-Frimmel Smith

Flying Ant-HC


Monday, March 12, 2018

Incredible Migration Today-March 11, 2018-1,313 Swainson's Hawks

Hal Cohen assisted Herb Stone, Judy Davis and John Peterson and many other folks

Swainson's Hawks-1,313

At least 12 large kettles formed during a one hour migration. Hawks streamed by continuously. The roost sites included the Date Farm (now called Evans Ranch); The Roadrunner Club; And points out east. The hawks took time to find any air movement. They drifted about to the east until the ground warmed up. Some kettles had a few hundred hawks. I am hoping that folks that took videos will share them. Below are a few shots of the large kettles One shot in particular shows the depth and spiral motion of a kettle.

Evening Watch Monday March 12, 2018:
This evening we were treated to several hawks close and low and in Eucalyptus Trees in the Date Farm. Around 100 hawks settled into the trees. Photo's to appear with the next blog.

With light wind predicted the hawks will most likely take off between 7:30am and 9am. We'll start at the evening site on Borrego Valley Rd. 1.5 miles north of Palm Canyon Drive. We'll move over to DiGiorgio Rd if the hawks move straight west.

A shot of a huge kettle twisting upwards-Ted Spriggs
Another angle of a large kettle-Ted Spriggs

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Continuing Migration of Swainson's Hawks-March 7-11, 2018-ALERT-350-500 HAWKS IN TOWN

March 7-Herb Stone and Judy Davis
March 8-Herb Stone and Judy Davis
March 9-Laura Webb and Hal Cohen
March 10-Rose Leong
March 11-Hal Cohen Don White

March 7-28 Swainson's Hawks
March 8-22 Swainson's Hawks; 9 Turkey Vultures; 1 Red-tailed Hawk
March 9-85 Swainson's Hawks; 9 Turkey Vultures
March 10-10 Swainson's Hawks
March 11-48 Swainson's Hawks

Although slow we are experiencing continued migration. On March 7th the hawks cooperated and flew directly over the old watch site. Roost sites for the 7th and 8th were the Date Farm and Roadrunner Club. March 9the was an interesting day. 24 Swainson's left early with some wind. At 8:30am a large kettle formed over the Date Farm. The hawks moved directly west and provided some good looks from DiGiorgio Rd and Big Horn. Several birds spent some time aerial feeding. We are not sure of the insect id. There is no apparent flying ant explosion. We had some nice small kettles on March 11.

Evening Watch-Sunday March 11, 2017:
This evening well over 350 Swainson's Hawks were spotted at 6:45pm. They apparently descended into the Date Farm-now called Evans Ranch.

Prediction-Monday March 12:
Light wind predicted to lift-off between 8:30 and 9:30am. Best views from the evening site on Borrego Valley and Digiorgio Rd near Big Horn. We should have some spectacular kettles.

Hundreds of Swainson's 3/11/18-HC

Another shot of Hundreds of Hawks-3/11/18-HC

SW-Barbara Barnes

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A Wonderful Day For Viewing and Photography-March 6, 2018

Leader-Tuesday March 6, 2018
Laura Webb

Swainson's Hawks-187
Turkey Vultures-17

The number of hawks exceeded the prediction of yesterday evening. Several SW kettles formed from the Date Farm and an area to the south. Also several Turkey Vultures joined the hawks. I've been asked about evening and day numbers. In the evening we estimate the number of hawks flying in. We also establish the prime roost location. The evening estimate is wrong most of the time. Our count Monday evening was off quite a bit (120+observed in the evening). Often after the initial touch down there will be additional hawks, even after we have gone home. This morning I noticed hawks flying in from the east to join the prime group. There are often multiple roost sites in one evening. Today photographers got some great shots of perched birds along the road. Also the kettles and streaming hawks across DiGiorgio Rd were spectacular. The photos below are mine with a small Lumix camera. I am hoping that the number of photographers with real camera's and lenses out there today will share their shots.

I was also asked the question as to why so close this season. Last season we had an abundance of food available and the hawks spent most of there time foraging away from typical roost sites. When they finished feeding they retreated to nearby roosts. These roosts were a distance from the observers.

Evening Watch:
This evening only 8 Swainson's Hawks came in. Of course it's possible we missed some. They may have descended into the back of the Date Farm or the Roadrunner Club.

Wind should be light tomorrow so expect the hawks to kettle up between 8 and 9am.

Along Borrego Valley Rd-HC
Very Dark SW-HC
Another View-HC

A Kettle From a Distance-Light Morphs Showing Up and A TV-HC

Very Dark Morph-HC

Monday, March 5, 2018

Hawks Are Beginning to Show Up in Numbers

February 26-Hal Cohen/Herb Stone/Judy Davis
February 27-Hal Cohen
February 28-No Count
March 1-Herb Stone/Judy Davis
March 2-Rose Leong
March 3-Rose Leong
March 4-Hal Cohen
March 5-Rose Leong

February 26-63 Swainson's Hawks: 4 Turkey Vultures
February 27-0
February 28-No Count
March 1-52 Swainson's Hawks; 5 Turkey Vultures
March 2-15 Swainson's Hawks
March 3-0
March 4-0
March 5-23 Swainson's Hawks

The season started with a bang-63 SW's. Then we had a slow down for a few days and again a nice count. After a few 0 days we had a fair day then an evening with over 100 Swainson's Hawks. There are also several Turkey Vultures in town.

We are in need of good photos to display on the blog. Send me your photos.

Evening Watch:
This evening, March 5 we had a large kettle of hawks descend into the Date Farm. They remained in the air for almost half an hour to the delight of several onlookers. Some were observed in trees from the entrance to the farm. Over 100 hawks are now in the Date Farm after a great view of the incoming hawks.

Light wind is predicted for tomorrow March 6. Lift-off of probably a large kettle or 2 or 3 will take place between 8 and 9am. Best viewing probably from the evening site.

Watching The Swainson's Hawks-Very High-HC

5 Swainson's Settling In For the Night-HC

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Begin the 2018 Season-February 27

We began the 2018 season on February 27. Sixty-three Swainson's Hawks were counted.
Adult Male Light Intermediate Morph Swainson's Hawk-HC

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