Thursday September 18, produced a third straight day of 39K+ Broadwings migrating over the lower Detroit River. The official count at Lake Erie Metropark was in the upper 30,000's. A similar if not greater number was observed but not counted at the Pt. Mouillee SGA Headquarters. At Pt. Moo we enjoyed mostly high altitude but often straight over head views of this remarkable phenomenon. The strong NNE wind gave the birds a tailwind that had them mostly streaming with any kettling limited to a couple of revolutions, then back to straightforward flight.
Another year another pair of distant sparring Bald Eagles
In the next photo the Broadwings are gaining altitude that is taking them into the clouds.
The past few mornings the waning moon has been in the sky and many broadwings have been on a path that put them in the same field of view with it. Although the hawks were flying high they weren't effectively at infinity as the 250,000 mile distant moon is. In order to try to get them both in focus I stopped down my lens to f/20 and still didn't succeed in getting them both sharp.
By 5:30 activity subsided at Pt. Moo, so I headed to the LEMP count area to see what the official counters came up with. When I got there I found that they must have just left as the flow of hawks there had also stopped. Seeing only two unfamiliar cars in the lot, I just did a quick loop and intended to continue on home. But as I getting back on the road I gave a quick look back and thought I saw a kettle of hawks over the river. I circled back into the parking lot, parked and grabbed my binoculars and walked out to the river's edge. The birds that I had seen from the car had moved on behind the trees,
I ran into a couple of birders sitting on a bench near the counters table. Thinking they had been there for the afternoon count, I asked them what they had seen. Turns out, Phil and Mimi had just arrived, from Farmington Hills, five minutes before I had and thought that since the counters had stayed until 6 PM the previous day they would still be there. Officially the count ends at 4 PM they only stay later when the migration continues through that time. As we talked of Sandhill Cranes, warblers and the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I noticed a naked-eye kettle crossing the river toward us. Over the next half hour we got great views of 500-600 Broad-wingeds, a couple of Bald Eagles and a Northern Harrier.
Below are the birds I watched with Mimi and Phil.
Click on the links below for a couple of short shaky videos of the hawks from Pt. Mouillee.