Thursday, September 20, 2012

From My Yard

Broadwings riding a thermal

  As the calendar ticks past September 20th the Broad-winged Hawk migration is winding down.  Historically 88% of them have passed through southeast Michigan by this date.  Although there haven't been the epic 100,000+ count days at LEMP this year, I did set a new record for my yard yesterday when a kettle (group of birds gaining altitude on rising air columns called thermals) of 500 broadwings flew over yesterday. They were flying so high that my camera couldn't focus on them until they were losing altitude as they spread out and streamed out of the thermal.
The black specks are Broadwinged Hawks
  Shortly after the large group of hawks moved  through an immature Bald Eagle flew over.
It is the fourth day this year I've had at least one Bald Eagle fly over my yard after having 3 days each the past 3 years.
   Today I had 53 more broadwings fly over. They were much lower and I was able to get some decent photos, including the one at the top of this page.
Relatively low flying BW Hawk
  After the hawks  passed through I was entertained by two Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds fighting over my feeder.
I'll clean the feeder tomorrow

    Apparently there is a company that photographs boats from a helicopter.  I checked their website and they take pretty nice pictures.  They might have been  photographing my across-the-yard neighbor's boat that hasn't been in the water during the 8 years that we've lived here.  I wonder if they take pictures of backyard hawkwatchers' camera rigs. pilot coveting my camera
 Things I've learned this week
1.  The Broadwinged hawks will pass through between Sept 17-20 but maybe not where you want them to.

2.  The old disney movie 'Mary Poppins' was not a documentary and she may not even have been a real person.
   2a. While the movie was beloved for generations in the U.S., I'm told in England it has been characterized as setting US/UK relations back nearly 200 years.
   2b. Dick Van Dyke is not from England(independent verification needed).


  1. Knowing what I know about hawk migration, I suspect a large part of the flight (the "Big Flight") occurred well north of LEMP on Wednesday. Your observation supports it. I could argue Michigan landfall was made in places like Wyandotte and Ecorse. Of course, I can't prove it, but I do have history to guide me. Needless to say, 500 birds over your house (minimum) is a good sign that the birds made their massive passing beyond the sight of LEMP counters.....

    1. If I hadn't been scanning the skies with binoculars I never would have seen them even though they pretty much flew right over my yard. I was hoping that the kettle was the beginning of a flight line but I only saw about 2 dozen more over the next couple of hours.