September 15, 2006 [LINK / comment]

Broad-winged hawks: awesome!

I took a casual stroll along Bell's Lane late this afternoon, and was startled to spot a large kettle of Broad-winged hawks approaching from the north. Soon another group joined them, creating an awesome tornadic swirl, and I estimated at least 130 altogether. This was at 5:15 PM. The hawks gradually headed south, not southeast, so it is possible that they did not pass through Rockfish Gap, where the hawk watch coordinated by Brenda Tekin is taking place. I'll have to get up there soon...

I also saw:

I got a good look at the flycatcher from about 30 yards away. It was definitely a member of the Empidonax family, and the yellow color on the breast and belly were distinct enough that I am confident of the species ID. The habitat, dense wetland bushes, is also characteristic of that species. In addition, I saw an adult Black rat snake crawling out of one of the nest boxes built for Bluebirds.

The hummingbirds have almost disappeared from our back yard, sadly. Goldfinches have been dropping by more often, though, and today I saw three of them on the thistle feeder next to the window, including a juvenile that was alternatingly feeding itself and begging from its father.