Sunday, September 25, 2011

First big flights of the season

Broad-winged Hawks
We have now had the first of those 'big days' that the Veracruz River of Raptors is named for: literally a stream of many tens of thousands of hawks migrating overhead. Having counted in this project for a few years now I am not new to it, but it never ceases to impress me.

The last couple of days we've had big flights of Broad-winged Hawk, one of the four raptor species that together make up 99.9% of our count here in Veracruz. (The other three are Mississippi Kite, Swainson's Hawk and Turkey Vulture.) We knew these birds were on our doorstep when we saw the counts in Corpus Christi (Texas) soar last week. We often get what they get - in tenfold. The only exception to that rule appears to be Prairie Falcon, a bird they get annually in low numbers, but we don't get at all.

Broad-winged Hawks
Flocks of more than 20,000 broadwings are not exceptional here in central Veracruz. The flight is often very concentrated, with tens of thousands of birds moving through in only a few hours. Typically, the flight starts in Cardel, then moves further inland to Chichicaxtle, which gets the afternoon flight of soaring raptors. Afternoons in Cardel are usually more laid-back, with falcons, Ospreys and accipiters dripping through.

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