Sep 30th - The First Half in Review

The following is a review of what's happened so far and a bit of prediction on what's to come...

Turkey Vulture (139) - So far only a few individuals and small groups have made it our way.  Peak migration over Rosetta generally occurs in the first two weeks of October.  Numbers should jump dramatically in the coming days.

Osprey (49) - Sadly, we are currently experiencing our worst year ever!  Peak migration over Rosetta for this species generally occurs in the first two weeks of September.  Numbers should begin to slow in the second half of October.

Bald Eagle (77) - Although it's been a few days since we last added a BE to our count, we are currently enjoying our third best year ever.  Of course, thanks in-part to our 'single day' count of 48 BEs, the new GTA Hawk-watching record!  Peak migration over Rosetta generally occurs in the first two weeks of September but there should still be many more to come through till the end of November.

Northern Harrier (70) - To date we've not had the numbers expected for this species.  Presently, we've tallied-up less than half of our average for this time.  Peak migration over Rosetta generally occurs in the last two weeks of September.  Hopefully we see more in the coming weeks.

Sharp-shinned Hawk (606) - Sadly, we are currently experiencing one of our worst ever counts for this species!  Peak migration over Rosetta generally occurs in the first two weeks of September.  There should still be a decent number of 'Sharpies' to come, including the adult birds which have yet to appear.

Cooper's Hawk (16) - Numbers so far would indicate that we're experiencing a below average year for this species.  Peak migration over Rosetta generally occurs in the first two weeks of October.  Hopefully we'll see a surge in numbers in the coming days.

Northern Goshawk (0) - Although a few birds have been counted in late September over the years, usually this species does not arrive until early October.  Peak migration over Rosetta generally occurs in the last two weeks of October.  An average of 15 birds are counted with a high of 24 in 2006.

Red-shouldered Hawk (0) - Only one bird has ever been counted before the first of October.  Peak migration over Rosetta generally occurs in the second half of October.  An average of  25 birds are counted with a high of 83 in 2014.

Broad-winged Hawk (233) - Although our number of BWs would appear very low to most hawk-watchers, it's actually our fourth best year!  Peak migration over Rosetta generally occurs in the middle two weeks of September.  We should still see a few late individuals heading south.

Red-tailed Hawk (26) - A few individuals have been counted to date.  Peak migration over Rosetta generally occurs in late October and continues in to November.  We look forward to another great count.

Rough-legged Hawk (0) - Only one bird has ever been counted before the first of October.  Peak migration over Rosetta generally occurs in the last half of October and continues in to November.  An average of 5-10 birds are counted with a high of 28 in 2010.

Golden Eagle (0) - Only two birds have ever been counted before the first of October.  Peak migration over Rosetta generally occurs in late October and continues in to November.  An average of 5-10 birds are counted with a high of 20 in 2012.

American Kestrel (175) - Numbers to date would indicate that we are missing many AKs as they head south.  It's likely that they are flying further inland and out of our viewing range.  Peak migration over Rosetta generally occurs throughout the month of September and in to the first week or so of October.  Numbers should climb in the coming days.

Merlin (56) - We are currently experiencing our eighth best year ever.  Peak migration over Rosetta generally occurs throughout September and continues well in to October.  Likely our numbers will steadily increase over the next several weeks.

Peregrine Falcon (12) - Numbers are a little low for this time.  Peak migration over Rosetta generally occurs during the last two weeks of September and continues well in to October.  Hopefully we'll see a jump in numbers over the coming weeks.

Total (1459) - We have finished the first half of our 'count' period with some not-so-great numbers unfortunately, as noted above.  The first two months of the season were filled with days of high heat, high humidity and a whole lot of wrong direction wind!  Our August count of 38 birds was by far our lowest ever.  Thankyou El Nino and La Nina!!!

Note:  A low count number does not mean that a species is in decline, it just means that we are not seeing the birds as they migrate.  Generally one of the major contributing factors is wind direction and as many of you know southern Ontario has only had a few days this season with decent northwest wind - the wind that carries the raptors down to the lakeshore and allows us hawk-watchers and hawk-counters a chance to enjoy them as they soar overhead.

Other Countable Stuff...

Species Survey - Birds (104) - Although no new species have been found as yet, the highlight so far has been the overall number of Blue Jays migrating over the park, it's been incredible to observe.  Other songbird species' numbers have been low so far.  Lots of time left for more birds!

Species Survey - Mammals (6) - Nothing overly exciting has been seen in the park so far.  Highlight has been the Eastern Cottontail rabbits.  They have been good company during our time at the park.

Species Survey - Butterflies (26) - It's been a banner season for butterflies!  Highlights include Giant Swallowtail, Spicebush Swallowtail, White Admiral, Red-spotted Purple, Great Spangled Fritillary, and Common Buckeye.  The Fiery Skipper has had an amazing stay this year, the first day seen was Aug 5 and they were still being seen as of Sep 25th!

Monarch Count (3665) - Our count number would indicate that we are slightly lower than last year, roughly 1100 butterflies.  Again, wind direction could be a huge factor in this year's migration.  Monarchs have been noted flying much further north than the park.

Monarch Tagging (839) - Terry, Betty, and all their helpers have been busy as beavers!  It's been an amazing year for Monarchs in the Gardens!  We'll look forward to lots of tag recoveries in Mexico this winter!

My thanks to everyone who has helped get us through the first half of the migration, it's not always easy when it's Hellish hot, hazy and humid and the sky is completely void of clouds and the wind is blowing in the wrong direction, etc. etc..  Let's hope for a much better second half.

See you at the park!

Walter

Special Post - Hawk Watching Switches To Jaeger Watching

With strong east wind and rain in the forecast, hawk watching at Rosetta was out of the question so a group of us (Terry, Betty, Hugh, and I) loaded up the back of Terry's vehicle with spotting scopes, binoculars, food, and warm clothing and headed for the Jaeger Watch at Van Wagner's Beach in Hamilton.  It was something that we had kicked around for quite some time and with yesterday's reported sighting of a somewhat rare Shearwater (a seabird!), we thought we'd better go today.

The trip to Hamilton was filled with rain, heavy at times and we were slowed by traffic on occasion but our hopes of seeing something new and unusual kept us on track to our destination.  An early morning internet report of another sighting of yesterday's Shearwater only helped to fuel the excitement.

Upon arrival at Van Wagner's the rain had stopped but the wind had picked-up even stronger then it was back in Toronto.  Being that we were at the west end of Lake Ontario and the wind was coming across the full-width of the lake, it was much cooler as well.  We grabbed our gear out of the car, put extra layers on and then headed over to the 'Watch' at Hutch's Restaurant by the beach.

 The marriage of my new scope and tripod (both previously enjoyed)
worked extremely well on the first day of their new life together! (Walter)

Although at first we thought the place was void of birders, we eventually found many watchers hiding behind their scopes on the far side of the building standing mostly out of the near gale-force winds.  With roughly a dozen or so scopes pointed out on the water and slowly panning back and forth it wasn't long before we got our first great bird, at least since we had arrived anyway, a Parasitic Jaeger!  A little while later we had good views of a Long-tailed Jaeger a little closer to shore.  A little while after that, we had at least 8 Parasitic Jaegers (some estimated upwards of 12 birds) out beyond the platform flying as a group.  This was quite exciting for us folks from Rosetta who just don't see these birds in our neck of the woods.  Eventually other smaller groups of 'Parasitics' would fly by out in the distance.  A Black-legged Kittiwake was another highlight observed a couple of times at a reasonable range.  Other birds seen during our visit by several in the now quick-growing group of scope-totin' Jaeger-hungry birders included a small group of shorebirds that flew by just out beyond the water's edge and a Sabine's Gull that was standing right on the beach!  Unfortunately by the time of the Sabine's sighting we had already retreated back to the car for lunch and warmth.  Rain had also moved in to the area by this time and none of us wanted to head back out in to it.  The Sabine's Gull is now my new 'nemesis' bird - always so close and yet so far!

Although the Shearwater was not found again, our group came away quite thrilled with what they had seen at Van Wagner's Beach and some were even fortunate enough to add a few birds to their personal Life Lists.  I would imagine it won't be too long before we make the trip back out there again.  Our return back to Toronto included a much needed stop at Timmies, of course - LOL!

Many thanks to the good folks gathered by Hutch's Restaurant who were kind enough to call out birds as they were spotting them and then took the time to explain what we Jaeger watchin'-newbies were lookin' at.

An article written by Brandon Holden giving an explanation of Jaeger Watching at Van Wagner's Beach can be found here.

Walter

PS - We did happen to see a Turkey Vulture and a Peregrine Falcon (likely both locals) while we were Jaeger Watching!

Sep 28th - Blue Jays By The Truck Load!

Pretty much the entire time that we were at the park today there was nothing but a constent stream of Blue Jays flying overhead.  It was absolutely amazing to watch.  At times there were large groups of several hundred birds in the sky moving southwest.  I was sent a text message today from Sarah G, who works a couple of kms east of our location, saying that the Jays were distracting her from her work!  I couldn't even start to come up with a figure on how many there were.  "Let's go Blue Jays!" is all I can say.

On the raptor front, not so many but we did get another Peregrine!

Today:
Northern Harrier - 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 1
Peregrine Falcon - 1
Total - 3

To Date:
Turkey Vulture - 139
Osprey - 49
Bald Eagle - 77
Northern Harrier - 70
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 606
Cooper's Hawk - 16
Northern Goshawk - 0
Red-shouldered Hawk - 0
Broad-winged Hawk - 233
Red-tailed Hawk - 26
Rough-legged Hawk - 0
Golden Eagle - 0
American Kestrel - 175
Merlin - 56
Peregrine Falcon - 12
Total - 1459

Other Birds:
Blue Jay - too many to count!!!
Great Blue Heron - 1

Butterflies:
Monarch - 30 (12 tagged)

People:
Trudy, Allison, Terry, Betty, Hugh, Arvo, Ann and her friend Theresa.  Thankyou everybody!  What a beautiful day to be at the park watching the migration!

Weather Prediction:
Rain, rain, and more rain...until possibly Monday!  I'll try to get down to the park if there are any breaks in the clouds.

Check you later!
Walter

Sep 27th - 5 Peregrine Falcons!

Today:
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 1
Merlin - 2
Peregrine Falcon - 5
Today - 8

To Date:
Turkey Vulture - 139
Osprey - 49
Bald Eagle - 77
Northern Harrier - 69
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 605
Cooper's Hawk - 16
Northern Goshawk - 0
Red-shouldered Hawk - 0
Broad-winged Hawk - 233
Red-tailed Hawk - 26
Rough-legged Hawk - 0
Golden Eagle - 0
American Kestrel - 175
Merlin - 56
Peregrine Falcon - 11
Total - 1456

our 2 'local' Red-tailed Hawks (Lee)
(look at the crop on the 2nd bird!)

one of 5 Peregrine Falcons (Lee)

a crow moving one of the Red-tails along (Lee)

Butterflies:
Fiery Skipper - 1
Monarch - 38 (13 tagged)

People:
Sophie, Terry, Betty, Allison, Arvo, Trudy, Krista, Peter, Hugh, Berle, Bill & Margaret, Carol, Dave, Lee, Vicky & Diane.  Thankyou!

Weather Prediction:
SE wind switching to E in the afternoon.  Not great for migration.

Walter

An Update on This Year's Count

With all the effects of the El Nino and possibly now the La Nina, the hawk-watching along the north shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie this fall has not been quite what it has been in previous years.....at least not yet anyway!

This is how the RMGRW is doing...

As of September 25th:
2014 - 4315 birds counted
2010 - 3401 birds counted
2006 - 2642 birds counted
2013 - 2589 birds counted
2015 - 2551 birds counted
2007 - 2376 birds counted
2011 - 2361 birds counted
2012 - 2359 birds counted
2016 - 1448 birds counted
2008 - 1286 birds counted
2009 - 0708 birds counted

2004 - a full year of counting was not conducted
2005 - a full year of counting was not conducted

Let's hope for better (cold and windy) days ahead!

Walter

Sep 25th - A Beautiful Fall Day...

...not many birds tho!

Today:
Turkey Vulture - 4
Osprey - 1
Bald Eagle - 1
Northern Harrier - 6
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 3
Red-tailed Hawk - 2
American Kestrel - 1
Total - 18

To Date:
Turkey Vulture - 139
Osprey - 49
Bald Eagle - 77
Northern Harrier - 69
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 604
Cooper's Hawk - 16
Northern Goshawk - 0
Red-shouldered Hawk - 0
Broad-winged Hawk - 233
Red-tailed Hawk - 26
Rough-legged Hawk - 0
Golden Eagle - 0
American Kestrel - 175
Merlin - 54
Peregrine Falcon - 6
Total - 1448

Eagle Time (DST):
08:53am - BE

a nice close birthday pass for Lee!

Cooper's Hawk (Paul)

Red-tailed Hawk (Lee)

Merlin (Lee)

Coming in for a landing (Arvo)

Turkey Vulture (Paul)

Other Birds:
Blue Jay - several hundred flying overhead again today
Loon sp - 5
Songbirds - many including White-throated Sparrow and both Kinglets throughout the park

Blue Jays on the move (Lee)

Brown Creeper (Arvo)

Blue Jay (Arvo)

Winter Wren (Paul)

Bugs:
Monarch - 34 (4 tagged)

a migrating dragonfly taking a break (Paul)

People:
Phil, Peter, Rob, Norm, Mike & Leslie, Paul, Berle, Bruce & Ann Falls, Hugh, Betty, Ron, Lee, and Arvo.  Thankyou all for a great day at the park.

Weather Prediction:
Rain for Monday!

Walter