Saturday, October 31, 2009

Winding down

The hawk counting season here in Veracruz is nearing its end, and the raptor flight this late into the season is dominated by the two species illustrated above: Turkey Vulture and Swainson's Hawk. We're still getting a few broadwing stragglers; Mississippi Kites have all gone through. Yesterday, an immature Zone-tailed Hawk was a late migrant, for most of them have passed too. Late in the season, we can still expect modest numbers of redtails, and probably some more Turkey Vultures. Migration of Swainson's Hawks will soon be over. Currently, the season total stands at almost 4.5 million birds, a sizeable improvement over last year when the count stalled at 3.3 million. An interesting sighting for me personally was a dark morph Ferruginous Hawk which sailed high over Cardel recently. A striking bird: a long-winged buteo with whitish flight feathers in the wings and tail, contrasting with dark brown body feathers and underwing coverts.

This is a Fork-tailed Flycatcher, a primarily South American species that is known to wander widely and will sometimes show up in the United States. Here in Veracruz, it is fairly common in cattle pastures near the dunes.

I'm looking forward to another Golden-cheeked Warbler field season in Central America, only three weeks away, and was pleased to note yesterday that the Micheletti administration in Honduras struck a deal with the ousted Honduran president Zelaya. Elections are scheduled for November 29, in which neither Zelaya nor Micheletti will be candidates. As the country returns to political stability after a coup last summer, it should be safe enough for us to do field work there.

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