Aug 29th - What a Show!

With very little raptor movement today, the two local Red-tailed Hawks thought they'd put on a show for all to see.  They flew in to the park around eleven o'clock and we're still being seen when we left at four.  Many park goers today got amazing unexpected views as the hawks came down to the ground repeatedly searching for squirrels.  What a thrill watching them dive at high speed from across the park, talons down ready to grab a meal.  I, myself took very few photos, I just sat back and enjoyed the show.  Way better than television!

Today:
Osprey - 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 1
Merlin - 1
Total - 4

To Date:
Osprey - 35
Bald Eagle - 11
Northern Harrier - 15
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 66
Cooper's Hawk - 3
Broad-winged Hawk - 81
Red-tailed Hawk - 12
American Kestrel - 61
Merlin - 11
Peregrine Falcon - 2
Total - 297

 Red-tailed Hawk (Walter)

Osprey (Patty)

The best non-raptor sighting  of the day without a doubt was of a Pileated Woodpecker which flew right over our heads at tree level.

We added our 22nd butterfly species to our survey list today - a Leonard's Skipper.  Butterfly experts Bob and Karen Yukich and Barry Harrison found and photographed it.  They told me that it vanished after one shot was taken, much the same as when I found one in the park last year.  As these 'rare for Toronto' butterflies are not migrants, it is believed that there is likely a small colony of them somewhere close to the park.  I will be going through the park over the next couple of days in hopes of finding one myself.

I was in great company again today.  Norm, Ron, Carol, Dave, Peter, Patty, and new hawk-watching friend Matt all enjoyed the day, the park and the Red-tails.

Tomorrow I'll be absent from the park so if you see anything interesting, please let John know.  If I don't get sick eating chocolate-covered chicken tasty food at the EX, I'll see you Sunday.

Walter

Aug 28th - Record Broken!

As I had mentioned in yesterday's post, we normally see just over 100 birds in the month of August each year.  This year we're only 7 birds away from hitting the 300 mark - amazing!  With yesterday's large movement of raptors, it wasn't surprising that there weren't quite as many today.  Simply put, we just ran out of birds that were waiting for favourable winds.  It happens.

Today:
Bald Eagle - 2
Northern Harrier - 4
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 16
Broad-winged Hawk - 13
Red-tailed Hawk - 4
American Kestrel - 9
Merlin - 2
Total - 50

To Date:
Osprey - 33
Bald Eagle - 11
Northern Harrier - 15
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 65
Cooper's Hawk - 3
Broad-winged Hawk - 81
Red-tailed Hawk - 12
American Kestrel - 61
Merlin - 10
Peregrine Falcon - 2
Total - 293

Eagle Time (EDT):
10:55 AM - BE (adult)
12:40 PM - BE (adult)

Terry started his Monarch Monitoring program today.  He was able to catch and tag a pair of Monarch butterflies.  Hopefully some day in the spring of 2015 we'll learn that one of his butterflies completed it's journey to Mexico and back up to the southern US.

Thanks to everyone who came to the Watch today for all your help.  Couldn't do it without you.

Walter

PS - Will try to add a few pictures to the post later.

Aug 27th - Our Best 'August' Day Ever!

Wow, I didn't see that coming!  When I was walking down to the park this morning I was concerned that it might still be a little too early for the migration to begin despite the predicted good northwest wind and that we would not see many birds flying.  My mind was put at ease when we started to see a few Kestrels and Sharpies coming along.  A lot of today's flight was way up high but with so much help I think we found most of the birds.  We ended up with a grand total of 158 birds spread out over 10 species.  Throw in a few 'local' Turkey Vulture sightings and make it 11 out of 15!  Thank you everyone for all your hard work today, even with cloud cover it wasn't easy.

Today:
Osprey - 7
Bald Eagle - 2
Northern Harrier - 7
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 24
Cooper's Hawk - 2
Broad-winged Hawk - 60
Red-tailed Hawk - 8
American Kestrel - 43
Merlin - 3
Peregrine Falcon - 2
Total - 158

To Date:
Osprey - 33
Bald Eagle - 9
Northern Harrier - 11
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 49
Cooper's Hawk - 3
Broad-winged Hawk - 68
Red-tailed Hawk - 8
American Kestrel - 52
Merlin - 8
Peregrine Falcon - 2
Total - 243

Eagle Time (EDT):
12:55 PM - BE (immature)
01:10 PM - BE (immature)

We now sit at 243 birds for the month.  We need just 8 more birds to break our all-time high.  That record will likely fall tomorrow.

Broad-winged Hawk (Kris)

Hummer (Lynn)

In other birding news, we had another Common Nighthawk early in the morning flying eastward.  In the afternoon we had a Cape May Warbler and a pair of Magnolia Warblers.

Butterfly numbers were fairly slim again today but this afternoon we had our first ever for the park Red-spotted Purple as well as a Spicebush Swallowtail and a Pipevine Swallowtail.  Two more Giant Swallowtails also flew through.  Dragonflies filled the sky this afternoon!  What a sight!

Red-spotted Purple (Lynn)

 
Spicebush Swallowtail (Walter)

Pipevine Swallowtail (Walter)

Good crowd today including: Gunnar, Kris, Allison, Ron, Jean, Don, Pat & Nancy, Carol, Hugh, Bruce, Bill, Berle, Peter, Betty, and Lee.  Many thanks again!

Northwest wind continues on Thursday, hopefully there are a couple of birds left.

Walter

Aug 26th - Close to 40!

Today I'm going to heed the warning and stay mostly indoors.  The temperature is supposed to feel like 39 degrees centigrade.  So if any of you are at the park and see anything big flying westward, please let me know as soon as possible.  Thanks.

Tomorrow will be a much better day with cooler temps and northwest winds!  Hopefully we'll see a good bump in the numbers.  We're currently sitting at 85 birds 'counted' and our usual goal for the month of August is 100 birds so I think we should meet that with no problem.

See you at the park!

Walter
 

Aug 25th - 5 More!

As expected, a warm southeast wind today did not bring many raptors our way, so we sat in the shade of the big ol' Maple and chatted instead.  The highlight of the day was watching our two local Red-tailed Hawks put on a wonderful hour-long show as only they can do.  They seemed to be very interested in something on the west side of the park, possibly a rabbit as one was seen headed in that general area earlier in the day.

Today:
Northern Harrier - 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 3
American Kestrel - 1
Total - 5

To Date:
Osprey - 26
Bald Eagle - 7
Northern Harrier - 4
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 25
Cooper's Hawk - 1
Broad-winged Hawk - 8
American Kestrel - 9
Merlin - 5
Total - 85

These are a few shots that I managed to get...





As some of you are aware, one of the two 'locals' has a silver band on it's left leg.  The bird has been in the area for a couple of months.  I was interested in knowing more about this bird and as Lee had mentioned to me in a text message, Ann would have the answer as to where it was banded - at the Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station two years ago by Amanda Guercio.  Thankyou!

Cedar Waxwings were the only songbird of note this morning.  They continue to move back and forth across the sky in small groups.

As for butterflies, the park was fairly quiet today although I did see 2 more Giant Swallowtails very early in the morning.


I thank Betty, Ron, Pat & Nancy, Peter, Hugh and Manny as well as a few others for all the camaraderie today.

Walter

Aug 24th - The Sharpies Are Coming!

A nicer flight today with a total of 16 birds being counted.

Today:
Osprey - 1
Bald Eagle - 2
Northern Harrier - 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 9
American Kestrel - 2
Total - 16

To Date:
Osprey - 26
Bald Eagle - 7
Northern Harrier - 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 22
Cooper's Hawk - 1
Broad-winged Hawk - 8
American Kestrel - 8
Merlin - 5
Total - 80

Eagle Time (EDT):
10:29 AM - BE (immature) x2

Lots of 'peeps' today including: Alan & Lydia, Freida, Norm, Pat & Nancy, Peter, John, Betty, Hugh, Sheldon, Helena, and Tim.  Thanks everyone!

Walter

Massive Migration of Raptors

Check this video out!  It's Turkey Vultures migrating over Ancon Hill (Cerro Ancon) in Panama City, Panama in Central America.  As the young lady says "Incredible, wow"!


Walter

Aug 23rd - Where Was The Sun?!!

I could have sworn that when I left the house this morning the forecast for today was supposed to be partly cloudy with sunny breaks.  It turned out to be about 99% heavy cloud cover with only one short sunny break mid-afternoon.  The overcast sky and the threat of rain put a chill in the air and made me feel cold much of the day.  To add to it, there was little bird movement, only one or two squirrels, a quick rabbit sighting, less then a handful of butterflies, very few park walkers, and only a couple of visitors to the Hawk Watch.  Several wedding parties late in the afternoon helped bring back some of the 'usual' Saturday busyness.

Our raptor count for the day was not great with an average of only 1 bird per hour but I'm happy with the fact that we added another 4 Osprey.  Identification today was solely done by shape as the birds were silhouetted against the sky.

Today:
Osprey - 4
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 3
American Kestrel - 1
Merlin - 1
Total - 9

To Date:
Osprey - 25
Bald Eagle - 5
Northern Harrier - 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 13
Cooper's Hawk - 1
Broad-winged Hawk - 8
American Kestrel - 6
Merlin - 5
Total -64

Yet another Giant Swallowtail butterfly flew through the park heading westward during the sunny period.  We've now had 9 'Giants' since August 11th.  Not bad for a butterfly that just a couple of years ago was considered a 'migrant' and mostly only seen in southern Ontario.

My thanks to Manny, John, Carol, Betty, Peter, Cori, and Hugh for your help and friendship today.

Sunnier skies tomorrow!

Walter

Aug 22nd - 7 Birds!

Today:
Osprey - 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 5
American Kestrel - 1
Total - 7

To Date:
Osprey - 21
Bald Eagle - 5
Northern Harrier - 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 10
Cooper's Hawk - 1
Broad-winged Hawk - 8
American Kestrel - 5
Merlin - 4
Total - 55

Common Nighthawk - 3

Walter

Aug 20th & 21st - Any Birds?

Hi folks,

I just received a report from Leon via Betty's email.  This morning at the Watch site Leon counted 2 Osprey, an American Kestrel, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, the local Merlin, and 105 people walking!

I received an update to the above from Leon via Peter's email.  Leon added our first Northern Harrier of the season and his people count was up over 125.

To add to that Ann had 2 Osprey while she was at the park this afternoon after work and I had an Osprey over the No Frills parking lot late this afternoon.

Thankyou everyone!  I've been absent from the park the last two days so if anyone else has seen any birds (excluding the locals) please let me know and I'll add them to the count.  I'll be back at the park early tomorrow morning, hope to see you there.

Walter

Aug 19th - A Few This Morning

With moderate winds blowing in from across the lake this morning a couple of birds decided to fly.  Osprey, eagles and falcons are birds that don't seem to mind a 'south' element in the wind.  They'll take advantage of the lift that's provided from the updraft coming off the bluffs and fly along on it.  By mid-day the winds became quite gusty and ended any hope we had for seeing more birds.

Today:
Osprey - 2
Bald Eagle - 1
Merlin - 1
Total - 4

To Date:
Osprey - 15
Bald Eagle - 5
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 4
Copper's Hawk - 1
Broad-winged Hawk - 8
American Kestrel - 3
Merlin - 4
Total - 40

Eagle Time (EDT):
10:30 AM - BE (juvenile)

Today we saw another Giant Swallowtail butterfly fly through the park.  Also, a Walking Stick was found - that's one cool looking bug if you've never seen one before.

At the park today were: Brian, Pat & Nancy, Carol, Don, Peter, Arvo, Leon, and new friend Krista.  Thanks everyone!

Walter

Aug 17th & 18th Update

Just a quick update to let you all know that we've (meaning many hawk watchers) been at the Watch searching the skies for hawks over the last two days but sadly it's been dreadfully slow.  As much as I'm sure we don't want to wish the summer away we are getting quite anxious to see migrating birds.  Yesterday we had an Osprey out over the lake and today we watched a Sharp-shinned Hawk chase a Blue Jay out of the park.

Yesterday we saw our 5th Giant Swallowtail butterfly of the fall season and today it was extremely likely that Leon and I sighted a Spicebush Swallowtail flying through the main gardens.  Unfortunately it didn't land on any flowers.

Walter