Current Activity

June/End of the Season

June added over 1400 raptors to the season total, primarily made up by 1200 Broad-winged Hawks (mostly juveniles) including a season high count for eastbound birds with 415 on the 5th!

Otherwise June on the mountain was rather uneventful and hot with temps near 90 unleashing hordes of Blackflies and No-See-Um’s.

The season ended with 15 species of raptors totaling 7,210 eastbound individuals. This is the second lowest total on record, but better than last spring! More details can be found in the report which will be available by the end of the month.

Off the mountain, excitement was provided by a Black Vulture flying west over Horseshoe Harbor on the 6th, the first local record since 2015! Unfortunately it never flew past the hawk count and one wonders how and when it entered and exited the Keweenaw.

This Gray Catbird posed nicely to end the season.

End of May

Despite good flying weather the raptor migration dropped off after May 19th, with daily totals only breaking the hundred mark one time through the end of the month. Leading to long slow days on the mountain punctuated by the early arrival of blackflies which made the slowing migration all the more noticeable. As typical for late May juvenile Broad-winged Hawks have taken over the majority of the flight from the adults, nearly all are molting flight feathers resulting in gaps in their wings. Notable was a late adult Northern Goshawk on the 30th (photo below).

Off the mountain passerines have kept things interesting. The Loggerhead Shrike was present through the 21st, Green Heron on the 25th, Red-headed Woodpecker the 24th & 25th, Olive-sided & Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, Warbling Vireo on the 21st, Northern Mockingbird on the 28th, Gray-cheeked Thrush, 40+ Savannah Sparrows, 19 species of warblers on the 21st, Western Meadowlark on the 22nd, and Yellow-headed Blackbirds on the 20th & 27.


May Raptor Update

Despite the calendar turning to May, migration for this period was nearly non-existent due to continued non-south winds (much like last spring…)

Things finally changed when the winds went south the night of the 12th, only to go WNW the next morning. A pattern that would be repeated through the 17th. The combo of south winds each night brought a new wave of passerines, while the WNW (and NW and N) winds in the day limited the amount of raptors passing by Brockway. An added insult was the wind maps showing south winds at the bottom of the Keweenaw!

Since the 12th the flight has been steady with a few hundred raptors each day, and the biggest flight for the period was on the 13th with 454 raptors recorded including 307 Broad-winged Hawks. It seems that the southerly winds to the south brings raptors up into the Keweenaw, but the WNW-N winds along the north shore is pushing those birds inland and away from Brockway. What birds do pass by tend to be high or inland, a pattern I don’t see changing until we get south winds in the daytime. Noteworthy were 545 west bound Broad-winged’s on the 15th, that’s a higher count than any day of east bound birds this season.

Raptor highlights have been sparse this spring, but an adult Krider’s Red-tailed Hawk that has made several appearances over the last few days is definitely a stand out. This is likely the first record of this pale western subspecies of Red-tailed Hawk for the count.

Here’s the local Raven carrying food to the nest, it wont be long until the young fledge and are flapping around the cliff edge and valley.

 

 

May Passerines

While the daytime winds have been northerly, the nocturnal southerly winds have brought spring migration to the Keweenaw with new passerines present every morning (since the 13th that is, before that it was extremely slow and cold).

Notables include 15 species of warbler, Cliff Swallow, Loggerhead Shrike (5/16-17, eating a snake in the photos below! First local record since 2016), Northern Mockingbird (5/13), 65 Chipping Sparrows (5/13), Clay-colored Sparrows, Lark Sparrow (5/15), Le Conte’s Sparrows, Harris’s Sparrow, Smith’s Longspur (5/15, flyover), Rusty Blackbird, and Western Meadowlark. Additionally Common Redpolls, Evening Grosbeaks, and Bohemian Waxwings continue to be present locally along with many Pine Siskins and Purple Finches.

End of April


Since the last post the weather has taken a turn for the worse with seemingly endless days of non-south winds coupled with rain and snow resulting in few raptors moving along the Brockway ridge. Only one day in this period broke the hundred bird mark with the 238 on the 18th, carried by 91 Red-tailed Hawks. Despite the weather April ended a thousand birds higher than last year, even though hours counted was over forty less. More birds in less time is something every counter can appreciate!

Off the mountain; The Iceland Gull lingered in town through the 23rd, while the Euro Tree Sparrows were present through the 18th. Bohemian Waxwings, Evening Grosbeaks, and Redpolls were present intermittently through the end of the month.

A House Sparrow (only the second one here, photo below) was present on the 18th along with a Eastern Towhee (my first in town) and the first Vesper and Chipping Sparrow of the spring.  A Field Sparrow was present on the 29th (only the second I’ve seen here, photo below). Warbler numbers and diversity continue to be low with only Yellow-rumped Warbler present in any sort of numbers.

Ice & Snow

The weather lately has consisted of rain, fog, and snow resulting in a lack of raptor migration.

But other birds have been migrating as spring slowly returns to the Keweenaw. Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers arrived in the last week along with American Woodcock, Wilson’s Snipe, YB Sapsucker, Rusty Blackbird, and Western and Eastern Meadowlarks. Spring migration!

Cherri Allen found a Eurasian Tree Sparrow at her feeders on the 6th, which was joined by a second on the 10th. These represent record early arrival dates for this species, with nearly all the previous records occurring in May.

Winter hasn’t quite left the Keweenaw, with lingering flocks of Common Redpolls (with a Hoary or two mixed in), and Bohemian Waxwings still common in the area.

As the title suggest the highlights of the month so far have been ice & snow. Specifically a first spring Iceland Gull (third county record? Definitely in the running for bird of the spring!) that has been loafing about town for nearly a week now. And a Snowy Owl that spent a foggy, raining midweek day getting mobbed by crows as it moved around town trying to find some peace and quiet, and apparently breakfast, lunch and dinner! It started the day sitting on the dock by Jamsens Bakery (which is closed til mid-May), then flew over the Mariner (closed midweek in April) and landed on the roof of The Pines (also closed midweek in April), at some point in the day it was also seen at the Harbor Haus (also currently closed). It apparently didn’t know The Genny was open or it could have picked up some groceries or a snack!

Two Big Days

While the April weather thus far hasn’t been great for raptor migration, April 5 and 9 were outstanding and definite highlights of the spring.

Highlights of the 5th included 7 Red-shouldered Hawks, 6 Northern Goshawks, 2 Golden Eagles, 96 Red-tailed Hawks, and 84 Rough-legged Hawks (only three shy of a new day high for the hawk count and 22 higher than the entire spring total for last year!)

After the 84 RLHA on the 5th I wasn’t expecting another day like that for the rest of the spring.

But then came the 9th.

The morning started hot with 22 Roughies in the first hour and 44 in the third! In the early afternoon precipitation had moved in to the south slowing the flight. But the Roughies kept coming and by the time the count ended for the day 120 Rough-legged Hawks had migrated east along the ridge in one of the best days in the history of hawkwatching on Brockway Mountain (note the all time highcount is 226 on April 17, 1976) .

Also notable on the 9th include 1 Osprey, 39 Bald Eagle, 23 Northern Harrier, 53 Sharp-shinned, 2 Northern Goshawk, 64 Red-tailed Hawk (two dark morph!), and 3 Golden Eagles.

Below are an assortment of photos from both of those days (its RLHA heavy).

 

Spring!

While March has only just ended, the weather thus far has felt far more like mid April. With temps in the thirty’s and 40’s and very little snow on the mountain. Despite the generally warm temps winds have been less than optimal for migration, but the 196 raptors for March is the highest March total of my five seasons here. Fingers crossed that’s a sign for how the rest of the spring will go!

The flight thus far has been decidedly March. With Bald Eagles making up the bulk of the numbers thus far, with a few Golden Eagles mixed in to keep things interesting and the Ravens on guard. Buteo numbers have been low, with just a handful of Red-tailed, Red-shouldered (picture below), and Rough-legged Hawks(pictured below). The first Turkey Vulture of the spring arrived on March 30.

Locally Copper Harbor has been awash in winter finches. A few Pine Grosbeaks have been passing though, along with flocks of Evening Grosbeaks and excellent numbers Common and a few Hoary Redpolls. Of note both subspecies of Common and Hoary Redpolls have been present, a first for me in here.

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