Montclair Hawkwatch Update- October 24th

This week, Turkey Vultures continued to be the most numerous raptor migrant. Notable days for this species were the 21st and 23rd, during which 73 and 43 individuals passed over, respectively. The majority of these individuals caught thermals together in groups of five to twenty birds, often forming dark masses visible far off over the horizon. Occasionally, migrating Black Vultures were mixed among the Turkeys, but the few migrants of this species I viewed this week tended to keep amongst themselves. Serendipitously, two classes of Kean University Environmental Biology students visited the platform on these two higher-volume migrant days and had great opportunities to witness several raptor species, including many of the local Red-tailed Hawks.

Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks continue to trickle through in moderate numbers, as well. North and northwest winds on the 23rd provided conditions for decent migrant activity: twenty-four Sharpies and 9 Cooper’s Hawks flew southward over Montclair on this day. Additionally, the Red-shouldered hawk is still a somewhat regular sight; I observed six adults over the course of three days this week.

Although the number of falcon migrants has dropped over the past few weeks, several individuals flew over on the 21st and 23rd. On the 21st, a Peregrine cruised directly over the platform, offering visitors clear views. A Merlin also passed over this day, and two others migrated over on the 23rd. One of them stopped to perch at Mills Reservation’s canopy line long enough for me to get a photo of it through a spotting scope- this is no quick feat without an adapter! Being such a powerful flyer, most views of this species from the Montclair Hawkwatch last mere seconds.

On Sunday the 20th, there was a large push of Yellow-rumped Warblers in the cooler morning hours. Some stopped by in the trees surrounding the platform to forage before embarking southwest. This was the largest day for them, and at a few individuals continued to pass through on a daily basis for the rest of the week. 37 Red-winged Blackbirds also migrated over on the 20th, likewise followed by sporadic flocks of smaller numbers for the duration of the week.

David Rosenbaum