Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hawks and Other Birds at Jeff's Dune Today

It was cool, windy and beautiful on "Jeff's Dune" (Muskegon State Park) this morning.  Most of the migrating hawks flew high despite strong gusty east winds, and I'm sure many flew over without my seeing them.  This Red-tailed Hawk gave me the once-over before continuing south.

Around 10:00 some small kettles of hawks formed north of the ridge line (up toward the "Sugar Bowl" tobogganing hill).  Most were probably Broad-winged's, but some were definitely Sharp-shinned's, and without Jeff's eyes and expertise I couldn't tell which from that distance.  Most of them climbed thermals into the blue and disappeared before reaching an imaginary east-west line between the dune and the moon over the lake.

Besides those there were several identifiable migrating birds (15 Sharp-shinned Hawks ...

... 8 Broad-winged Hawks, 4 Red-tailed Hawks, 4 Northern Harriers (2 brown, 2 gray adult males), 3 Turkey Vultures, 2 Bald Eagles (immatures) and about 200 migrating Blue Jays.  Non-migrants included an adult Bald Eagle (probably one of the Snug Harbor pair), 2 American Kestrels and this Red-tailed Hawk.

Non raptors included 2 Pileated Woodpeckers, several Northern Flickers, a few Eastern Bluebirds and 1 Canada Goose.

I couldn't identify a sparrow as it foraged in the dune grass nearby, but after it flew away and perched on a distant branch, I took a couple pictures.  Enlarging this image to the max, I think it's a Vesper Sparrow but would appreciate opinions of others.

- Ric

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