Friday, 12 October 2012

Hawkwatching at Seacliff...

I headed down to the Point Pelee area to try my hand at some hawk-watching. I had one target species in mind - Swainson's Hawk! Quite a few of Ontario's records have occurred in October of birds migrating with Turkey Vultures. North winds were forecasted for the day, the first time in weeks that southern Ontario was to see ideal winds for hawk-watching! My theory was that there would be a backlog of migrant raptors eager to move on a day like this.

I arrived at the Seacliff hawkwatch around 9:45 this morning. Shortly after 10, the vultures started moving, something that would continue un-abated until 2:00 PM or so. My first interesting raptor was a juvenile Northern Goshawk which soared overhead just after 10:00 AM. Surprisingly, it was new for my "Point Pelee Birding Area" list.

Alan Wormington joined me for most of the day, and Richard Carr did for a few hours as well. We were kept on our toes all morning and early afternoon as the steady stream of Turkey Vultures continued. Mixed in with them, we had:

18 Bald Eagles - a record high count for the Point Pelee Birding Area apparently
1 Golden Eagle - adult bird seen as I was about to quit at 4:30 PM or so
4 Northern Harriers - some looking very Swainson's like!
60 Sharp-shinned Hawks - estimate
7 Cooper's Hawks
15 Red-shouldered Hawks - really good looks at some!
1 Broad-winged Hawk - low flying young-looking bird
1 Merlin
1 Peregrine Falcon
30 American Kestrels - estimate
MANY Turkey Vultures - we didn't count them. Holiday Beach had 7000!

Other interesting birds seen included 100s of swallows, mostly Tree but at least two Northern Rough-winged, 38 Chimney Swifts, and a good mix of sparrows and warblers including Fox Sparrow and Orange-crowned Warbler.

Holiday Beach had its 3rd Swainson's Hawk of the year today. Kind of frustrating*, since it probably went right past us!!! You just can't win sometimes.

I have some shitty record shots of most of the birds but I don't really feel like editing them.


* by kind of frustrating, I mean really really really frustrating


  1. Unfortunately the OBRC never receives any documentation for Swainson's Hawks that are occasionally reported at Holiday Beach.

    One can only assume that they have been identified correctly.

  2. What?! Another one! I've been the counter at the tower 2 days a week for 3 weeks and I always get southwest winds or rain!

    When one finally flies over on one my days, I'll make sure to submit documentation.