Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Again Merlins

At the Sandy Hook hawk watch, Merlins were coming left and right yesterday afternoon and this morning; one even briefly landed on the deck's railing for a snapshot!

Alright, I guess the part about a Merlin landing on the platform for a photo I made up, but I did see a good Merlin flight these past couple of days. It's just that I didn't get any good photos so this one, taken last fall at the Cansaburro raptor banding station in Veracruz, Mexico, will have to do.

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about Merlin migration at Sandy Hook his spring, namely here and here. It occurred to me that the wave of migrants I saw in the first half of April was rather unusual, and apparently wasn't seen by any other hawk watch. The last week of April is a more expected time for Merlin migration to peak. Yesterday I had 20 and today 32 Merlins; these are good but certainly not unusual numbers for late April. Take a look at the table I made summarizing Merlin flights in one of those earlier posts and you'll see that today's total of 32 is a more or less normal peak flight on a more or less normal date for this species.

Apparently, the Cape Henlopen hawk watch had strong Merlin flights on Monday (78) and Tuesday (79), a day earlier than my Tuesday and Wednesday flights. I had nothing Tuesday morning, and very little Wednesday afternoon. It seemed like all migrants, including the Merlins, were packed in a bubble that started Tuesday afternoon and spilled over into Wednesday morning.

Why it stopped Wednesday afternoon is anyone's guess: was it because midday the strong wind changed direction from WNW to NW? Or was the whole thing simply a bubble with backed-up birds that had to go on the first rain-free day, spilled over into the second day, and then petered out?

Incidentally, I also had a fairly decent Sharp-shinned Hawk flight today, with 50. I'm expecting that soon as conditions become more favorable for sharpie migration, a lot more will come. If that happens tomorrow, then I'll still catch that flight...

Saturday morning, I'll be catching another flight. To San Salvador...

1 comment:

johnvandort said...

My own comment about a "more or less normal peak flight on a normal date" was clearly premature: the next day, I had 44 Merlins, and the day after that Scott Barnes logged 79 migrant Merlins on the count! It's been an incredible year for Merlins.