Daily Hawk Count

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Friday, October 25, 2019

By Jeremy Pallant

With PG&E's planned power outages and current wildfires, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy is canceling all group and volunteer field programs in Marin today and actively monitoring air quality index for possible future continuance of field programs.

While the Friday I team wishes that we could have been up on the hill counting raptors today, we completely understand that recent heat waves and high winds make conditions unsafe for hawkwatching. This feels especially pertinent given the smoky conditions experienced by the counters on Hawk Hill yesterday afternoon. Here's to hoping that November brings less extreme weather and a great late-season raptor flight! To all affected by the heat, by power outages, and by wildfires, please stay safe and take care!

Total Sightings: 0
Hours Counted: 0
HPH: 0
Total Species: 0

Thursday, October 24, 2019

By Jeremy Pallant and Paula Eberle

The winds were blowing up on Hawk Hill today, with gusts in the early morning approaching 30 miles per hour from the East. With the high winds came fast-moving raptors, which kept the hawkwatchers on their toes. Just after we started counting, three adult Peregrine Falcons came whipping by the hill, demonstrating their remarkable speed. In the late morning, we were joined by a Migratory Story group from Willow Creek Academy, who had a great morning of hawkwatching. During their program on the hill, they were lucky enough to see a Turkey Vulture with a patagial tag, which provided a perfect opportunity to learn about our banding and tagging programs. Before heading off at lunch time, the group got to witness the release of a female Cooper's Hawk, which stuck around the hill for a few minutes, showing off it's "flap-flap-glide" flight style. The highlight of the afternoon was a leucistic adult Red-tailed Hawk, appropriately nicknamed the "piano bird" as it displayed bright white primaries and upperwing coverts. As it took off toward Angel Island, it was joined by a dark morph juvenile Red-tailed Hawk, showing off the remarkable contrast between the two birds' pigmentation. Unfortunately, the day ended a bit early because of smoke that billowed over the hill from a fire in Richmond. Though our day ended early, we were still in high spirits!

Total Sightings: 223
Hours Counted: 4.1
HPH: 54.39
Total Species: 9

Species Counts:
Turkey Vulture: 55
Northern Harrier: 7
Sharp-shinned Hawk: 19
Cooper's Hawk: 14
Red-shouldered Hawk: 1
Red-tailed Hawk: 121
American Kestrel: 1
Merlin: 1
Peregrine Falcon: 3

Unidentified...
Accipiter: 1
Total unidentified: 1

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

By Maggie Brown & Emma Regnier

Like the past few days, our count started slowly with warm temperatures and only a light breeze. As the wind picked up, so did the raptor flight, just in time for two visiting groups of elementary school students to observe wild raptors. The Marin Horizon kindergarteners enjoyed learning all about raptor adaptations and migration with a special interactive Hawk Talk. One of our expert hawkwatchers led the other school group around Hawk Hill as they practiced recording their own sightings together. In the early afternoon, the Wednesday I team was treated to several low-flying male American Kestrels just overhead. Their bright white "strings of pearls" were clearly visible from below, and vibrant blue upperwing coverts shone in the afternoon sun. Everyone was grateful to be back on Hawk Hill for a beautiful and busy day watching hawks!

Total Sightings: 425
Hours Counted: 6
HPH: 70.83
Total Species: 10

Species Counts:
Turkey Vulture: 99
White-tailed Kite: 1
Northern Harrier: 21
Sharp-shinned Hawk: 40
Cooper's Hawk: 54
Red-shouldered Hawk: 12
Red-tailed Hawk: 169
American Kestrel: 8
Merlin: 4
Peregrine Falcon: 4

Unidentified...
Accipiter: 9
Buteo: 1
Falcon: 1
Raptor: 2
Total unidentified: 13

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

By Jeremy Pallant and Emma Regnier

The day on Hawk Hill was warm and mostly windless, but that didn't stop the Tuesday I team from having a relatively productive day. Today was a falcon frenzy, characterized by numerous falcon sightings, especially American Kestrels. By 1:00 PM, we had nine American Kestrel sightings, including eight males. Several of these small falcons were seen eating dragonflies on the wing, and one of the males made a close pass by the hill, giving today's Migratory Story group from Willow Creek Academy a wonderful look at its rufous tail and slate-blue shoulders. Additionally, there were sightings of five Merlins today, one of which was also seen picking dragonflies out of the air. Though falcon sightings tapered off in the late afternoon as windspeeds picked up, we had a couple of great sightings to finish out our day, most notably an adult female Northern Harrier, and a chocolate-brown dark morph adult Red-tailed Hawk. The Tuesday I team wasn't scared off by the heat and we look forward to seeing what November has to offer!

Total Sightings: 341
Hours Counted: 6
HPH: 56.83
Total Species: 9

Species Counts:
Turkey Vulture: 123
Northern Harrier: 14
Sharp-shinned Hawk: 39
Cooper's Hawk: 53
Red-shouldered Hawk: 12
Red-tailed Hawk: 80
American Kestrel: 9
Merlin: 5
Peregrine Falcon: 4

Unidentified...
Accipiter: 1
Raptor: 1
Total unidentified: 2

Monday, October 21, 2019

By Maggie Brown & Veronica Pedraza

It was a relatively slow day on Hawk Hill for the Monday I team. There was not much wind in the morning, so the raptor flow seemed to be minimal. As the day continued, we observed many of our usual suspects in addition to a striking White-tailed Kite and a close-flying male American Kestrel. Even with a lack of activity during some moments throughout the day, our hawkwatchers stayed focused on the skies and their vigilance payed off when a surprise visitor emerged in the West Quadrant... A large bird with long, broad wings and round face popped up in the west and immediately grabbed the attention of everyone on the hill. We quickly identified it as a Short-eared Owl and watched in awe as it flew into the vegetation below the hill. This was an especially exciting moment for the team since we do not see many of these nocturnal raptors during our count! Overall, the team had another productive and delightful day of hawkwatching.

Total Sightings: 318
Hours Counted: 6
HPH: 53
Total Species: 8

Species Counts:
Turkey Vulture: 89
White-tailed Kite: 1
Northern Harrier: 11
Sharp-shinned Hawk: 52
Cooper's Hawk: 62
Red-shouldered Hawk: 1
Red-tailed Hawk: 89
American Kestrel: 1

Unidentified...
Accipiter: 5
Buteo: 4
Raptor: 3
Total unidentified: 12

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