RMERF counts September 20

MOUNT LORETTE, BEAVER MINES and STEEPLES RAPTOR COUNTS

FALL 2018

www.eaglewatch.ca

PETER SHERRINGTON

 

 

Introduction This is the 27th consecutive year that RMERF has conducted at least one fall count in the Front Ranges of the Alberta Rocky Mountains. In 1992 an extensive reconnaissance count of 33 days was made at Mount Lorette that produced 2661 migrant raptors of which 2044 were Golden Eagles and demonstrated that the Alberta Front Ranges were a significant flyway for the species. Between 1993 and 2005 full-season counts of 75-101 days were conducted there with the exceptions of 1997 when a full count was conducted at Plateau Mountain about 90 km to the SSE and 2002 when circumstances limited observations at Mount Lorette to only 14 days.

From 2006 to 2009 the principal observation site moved to the Piitaistakis-South Livingstone ridge, which is the southern culmination of the Alberta Front Ranges, near the Crowsnest Pass during which time daily comparative counts of between 40 and 45 days were conducted at Mount Lorette coinciding with the main movement of Golden Eagles. In 2010 Mount Lorette again became the principal observation site with counts conducted over a standard period of September 20 to November 15.

Rosemary is organizing the Mount Lorette count and welcomes visitors to the site. If you are interested in volunteering as a “Sky-sweeper” (no previous experience needed: just good eyes and binoculars) or as an Observer or Assistant please contact Rosemary at rosemary.rmerf@gmail.com.  Details of how to find the site and other useful information can be found on our website, www.eaglewatch.ca

Peter Sherrington will also be conducting a count on Vicki Ridge located 4.5 km WNW of the Hamlet of Beaver Mines in SW Alberta, and Vance Mattson will again be watching at his Steeples site which is located on the east side of the Kootenay Valley (Rocky Mountain Trench) 25 km NE of Cranbrook, British Columbia. Information on all the RMERF sites and reports of previous years’ spring and fall counts may be found on our website www.eaglewatch.ca.

 

Thursday, September 20 Mount Lorette [Day 1] 0735-1720 (Rick Robb and Cliff Hansen). The starting temperature was -1C, the high was 5C at 1300 and it was 4C at the end of observation. It was calm to 1000 and then NE winds 2-5 that occasionally gusted to 15 km/h prevailed for the rest of the day; ridge winds probably reflected this pattern. Cloud cover was 50% stratocumulus and cirrus to 1000 but was subsequently 90-100% stratocumulus and cumulus for the rest of the day that produced light rain and drizzle after 1500 and steady rain and fog after 1700. Conditions were not favourable for raptor migration and the only migrant seen was an indeterminate Buteo over the Fisher Range. Two adult Bald Eagles and 2 American Kestrels, that frequented the Hay Meadow, were considered to be non-migrants. Other birds seen included 1 Belted Kingfisher, 1 Mountain Chickadee, 6 Boreal Chickadees, 6 Yellow-rumped Warblers and 6 White-winged Crossbills, but the highlight of the day was 2 or 3 Grey Wolves heard howling from the adjacent forest at 1130.

9.75 hours UB 1 TOTAL 1

 

Thursday, September 20 Vicki Ridge [Day 1] 0800-1845 (Peter Sherrington) Observation from the ridge top to 1520 and from the Waterton 61 wellsite on the western flank of the ridge after 1545. The temperature at 0800 was 3C the high was 9.5C at 1100 and 1200, fell to 5C at 1500, rose again to 8C at 1700 and was 6C at the end of observation. Wind was mainly W all day, light to 0930, then 8-16 gusting 25 km/h to 1130. Between 1130 and 1230 it was moderate NNW-NW that brought thunder-showers and was the essentially calm to 1540 while moderate rain and hail fell during a series of thunderstorms. Winds were then again W 10-20 gusting 25 km/h for the rest of the day. Initial cloud cover was 70% altostratus, cirrostratus and cumulus that gave pleasant hazy sunshine to start the count, but between 0900 and 1540 it was 90-100% mainly stratocumulus cover and subsequently 70-80% cumulus that produced periods of sunshine for the last 3 hours although some light drizzle persisted. A total of 44 migrants of 12 species were counted between 0827 and 1843 that comprised 2 Bald Eagles (1a, 1j), 3 Northern Harriers (1 adult male, 1 juvenile male and 1u), 10 Sharp-shinned Hawks (4a, 4j, 2u), 8 Cooper’s Hawks (2a, 5j, 1u), 1 juvenile Northern Goshawk, 2 adult Broad-winged Hawks (1 light, 1 dark), 2 light morph Swainson’s Hawks (1a, 1u), 3 adult calurus Red-tailed Hawks (2 light, 1 dark), 1 juvenile light morph Ferruginous Hawk, 9 Golden Eagles (5a, 3sa, 1j), 1 male columbarius Merlin and 2 adult Peregrine Falcons (1 male, 1 female). Fifteen of the birds moved between 1000 and 1100 just ahead of the onset of the first thunder-shower. Songbirds were abundant and conspicuous all day and migrants included 4 Mountain Bluebirds, 2 Townsend’s Solitaires, 453 American Robins, 18 Cedar Waxwings, 3 Yellow-rumped Warblers, 1 White-crowned Sparrow, 42 Dark-eyed [Oregon] Juncos, 20 Red Crossbills, 513 Pine Siskins and 2 American Goldfinches. Two Black Bears (1 large adult male and a smaller probable subadult animal) were on the ridge and single Western White and Clouded Sulphur butterflies were seen. Because of the presence of the bears I shall probably watch from the wellsite tomorrow.

10.75 hours BAEA 2, NOHA 3, SSHA 10. COHA 8, NOGO 1, BWHA 2, SWHA 2, RTHA 3, FEHA 1, GOEA 9, MERL 1, PEFA 2 TOTAL 44

 

Thursday, September 20 Steeples [Day 1] 1415-1615 (Vance Mattson). It was a rainy and overcast day with a temperature of 9C to 1330 when the rain ceased. Winds were moderate S to 1715 after which it was calm and cloud cover was 100% stratus, altostratus and cumulus to 1715 after which it reduced to 70% although the ridges continued to be draped with cloud. Despite the conditions there was a good movement of 42 raptors of 8 species between 1428 and 1745, 31 of which were seen before 1530. The count was 3 Bald Eagles (1a, 2j), 1 adult female Northern Harrier, 9u Sharp-shinned Hawks, 1u Cooper’s Hawk, 2 light morph Broad-winged Hawks (1a, 1j), 23 calurus Red-tailed Hawks (22 light morphs: 13a, 3j, 6u, and 1 adult dark morph, 2 Golden Eagles (1sa, 1j) and 1 adult female American Kestrel. Movement was mainly gliding with some flapping flight into the wind, and there was very little soaring. The day’s last bird, a subadult Golden Eagle at 1745, had a full crop.

4 hours BAEA 3, NOHA 1, SSHA 9, COHA 1, BWHA 2, RTHA 23, GOEA 2, AMKE 1 TOTAL 42

 

 

 

 

SUMMARY COUNTS, FALL 2018
MOUNT LORETTE September 20-November 15 BEAVER MINES September 20-November 15 STEEPLES September 20-November 15
DAYS 1 1 1
HOURS 9.75 10.75 4
TURKEY VULTURE (TUVU) 0 0 0
OSPREY (OSPR) 0 0 0
BALD EAGLE (BAEA) 0 2 3
NORTHERN HARRIER (NOHA) 0 3 1
SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (SSHA) 0 10 9
COOPER’S HAWK (COHA) 0 8 1
NORTHERN GOSHAWK (NOGO) 0 1 0
Accipiter sp. (UA) 0 0 0
BROAD-WINGED HAWK (BWHA) 0 2 2
SWAINSON’S HAWK (SWHA) 0 2 0
RED-TAILED HAWK (RTHA) 0 3 23
FERRUGINOUS HAWK (FEHA) 0 1 0
ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK (RLHA) 0 0 0
Buteo sp. (UB) 1 0 0
GOLDEN EAGLE (GOEA) 0 9 2
Eagle sp. (UE) 0 0 0
AMERICAN KESTREL (AMKE) 0 0 1
MERLIN (MERL) 0 1 0
GYRFALCON (GYRF) 0 0 0
PEREGRINE FALCON (PEFA) 0 2 0
PRAIRIE FALCON (PRFA) 0 0 0
Falco sp. (UF) 0 0 0
Unidentified Raptor (UU) 0 0 0
TOTALS 1 44 42