Sunday, September 23, 2012

East Sooke Hawk Watch

Today Donna, our grandson Cedar and I headed down to East Sooke Park to take in the annual Fall migration of Turkey Vultures and raptors off of Vancouver Island. East Sooke Park is more or less the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island, and is the place where the majority of raptors, vultures, and many other migratory species, make the jump across Jaun De Fuca Strait to Washington State. Because Vultures and raptors have issues with crossing large bodies of water, the birds gather here, sometimes stacking up to counts of several thousand birds, waiting for the weather conditions to be ideal for crossing the Strait.

Today was not the best raptor watching I have ever had at East Sooke Park, but it was still exciting, and I never tire of seeing large kettles of Turkey Vultures drifting back and forth from hilltop to hilltop. The waters off East Sooke Park were also absolutely teeming with alcids and gulls today, which makes for good sea watching, when the raptor activity dies down.

We realized on the drive home that one of the reasons that the vulture count seemed low, was because there are still good numbers of them up island, which have yet to migrate. We noted 87 of them on the drive home between Metchosin and Nanoose Bay.

Birds noted between 09:00 and 14:00 today;

Turkey Vulture: 480+-
Osprey: 1
Bald Eagle: 3
Northern Harrier: 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk: 7
Cooper's Hawk: 3
Northern Goshawk: 1
Red-tailed Hawk: 29 (two dark morphs, the rest being typical western types)
Merlin: 2
Vaux's Swift: 160+-
Band-tailed Pigeon: 320+-

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