RMERF counts, October 28

Saturday, October 28 [Day 36] (Jim Davis, assisted by Ruth Morrow) 0815-1830. It was a delightful autumnal day with the temperature reaching 17C at 1500 and 1600 from a starting low of 0C, and it was still 14C when observation ceased. The valley was calm to 1300 and then winds were S-SE 15 gusting to 27 km/h for the rest of the day, while ridge winds were NW, light to 0900 and subsequently moderate. Cloud cover was initially 90% altostratus that reduced to 40% by 1000, it was cloudless at 1100 and 1200 with stratus gradually increasing throughout the afternoon reaching 40-80% with minor cumulus after 1600. Ridges were clear all day and observation conditions were excellent setting the stage for what Jim described as his “best day of the season”. A total of 310 migrant raptors were counted between 0923 and 1806 that comprised a season-high count of 17 Bald Eagles (7a, 4sa, 6j), 1u Sharp-shinned Hawk, 1 adult Northern Goshawk, 1 light morph Rough-legged Hawk, 287 Golden Eagles (85a, 13sa, 32j, 157u) and 2 dark morph Gyrfalcons that flew south together at 1002. The Golden Eagle count is the third highest of the season and is one of the highest ever for late October. The highest hourly counts were 106 (1000-1100) and 74 (1200-1300) after which the flow gradually subsided. All of the raptors, apart from a very late Osprey that flew to the west, moved generally low along the Fisher Range except for the final three hours when the last 33 birds glided high above the ridge. The forecast calls for a general deterioration of weather in the coming week and it is probable that this large late season movement was ahead of an approaching cold front. There was also a good variety of other birds including a Northern Pygmy-Owl perched south of the site, a Boreal Owl that called around 1700, a late migrating flock of 11 American Robins, 47 Grey-crowned Rosy-Finches, 1 Pine Grosbeak and 16 Pine Siskins. A Grey Wolf, presumably the one seen by Blake yesterday, howled to the NW around 0900. A total of 58 visitors to the site enjoyed both the weather and the spectacular migration.

10.25 hours (394) OSPR 1 (2), BAEA 17 (120), SSHA 1 (81), NOGO 1 (24), RLHA 1 (24), GOEA 287 (3098), GYRF 2 (4) TOTAL 310 (3453)


Vicki Ridge [Day 37] (Peter Sherrington on the ridge top 0930-1820, and Gord Petersen near the Waterton 68 well site just below the western edge of Kyllo Ridge 1150-1815). It was a warm day with a temperature of 10C at 0930 that reached 14C at 1400 and was still 11C at 1800. The warmth was somewhat tempered, however, by strong W-WSW winds that blew all day 30-50 gusting to 80 km/h that only moderated during the last hour. Cloud cover was initially 80% altostratus and altocumulus that formed a Chinook Arch which slowly moved to the east leaving cloudless skies after 1500. Both sites produced a high count of migrant raptors and we are still trying to work out if the flows are discrete or if there was movement between the ridges. From Vicki Ridge between 0940 and 1757 I counted 170 migrants of 6 species comprising 1 Osprey, 21 Bald Eagles (15a, 1sa, 3j, 2u), 2 adult Sharp-shinned Hawks, 4 Northern Goshawks (3a, 1j), 1 small unidentified Accipiter, 31 Rough-legged Hawks (27 light, 1 dark, 3u) and 110 Golden Eagles (85a, 1sa, 7j, 17u). The birds all appeared to mainly fly high to the south above Vicki Ridge or above the eastern edge of Kyllo Ridge and it was only during the last hour that most birds moved high to the west. From just below the western edge of Kyllo Ridge between 1202 and 1813 Gord counted 161 migrants of 8 species that comprised 13 Bald Eagles (10a, 3j), 4u Sharp-shinned Hawks, 1 adult Cooper’s Hawk, 4 Northern Goshawks (3a, 1j), , 32 Rough-legged Hawks (31 light, 1u), 99 Golden Eagles (61a, 7sa, 10j, 21u), 6 unidentified eagles and 1 unidentified large falcon. Most of these birds were originating from the north and then flew west to the Carbondale Ridge or beyond. Several birds were initially located well to the west including one over Turtle Mountain in the Crowsnest Pass but only a few birds continued to the south along the west edge of Kyllo Ridge. Although the numbers at both sites are similar detailed timings, for example of goshawks and Bald Eagles, do not correlate and it is probable that most of the eagle flows were separate. It is entirely likely, however, that there was some duplication in the numbers of Rough-legged Hawks that often move to the west from Vicki Ridge. All this needs further analysis so in the interim the combined count for the day stands at 331 birds of 9 species: 1 Osprey, 34 Bald Eagles (25a, 1sa, 6j, 2u), 6 Sharp-shinned Hawks (2a, 4u), 1 adult Cooper’s Hawk, 8 Northern Goshawks (6a, 2j), 1 small unidentified Accipiter, 1 adult dark morph calurus Red-tailed Hawk, 63 Rough-legged Hawks (58 light, 1 dark, 4u), 209 Golden Eagles (146a, 8sa, 17j, 38u), 6 unidentified eagles and 1 unidentified large falcon. Movement was slow in the morning when only 16 birds were counted, but was strong throughout the afternoon with each hour between 1200 and 1800 producing between 40 and 58 migrants (combined counts). Other birds seen included 1 Ruffed Grouse, 30 Bohemian waxwings, 220 Grey-crowned Rosy-Finches, 1 Red Crossbill and 1 Common Redpoll.

8.83 hours (307.6) OSPR 1 (11), BAEA 34 (141), SSHA 6 (750), COHA 1 (92), NOGO 8 (87), UA 1 (6), RTHA 1 (232), RLHA 63 (456), GOEA 209 (1681), UE 6 (7), UF 1 (2) TOTAL 331 (3604)


Steeples [Day 29] (Vance Mattson) 1245-1800. Vance arrived at the site as the low cloud that filled the valley started to lift and the weather was then beautiful with the temperature rising to 12C from a low of 3C, calm conditions and completely cloudless skies. The raptor movement, however, was disappointing with only 7 birds of 3 species seen between 1340 and 1645 comprising 3 Bald Eagles (2a, 1j) 2 Northern Harriers (1 adult female, 1u juvenile) and 2 adult Golden Eagles. The first migrant, an adult female Northern Harrier, was in the air when Vance arrived, the juvenile Northern Harrier moved at 1340, three Bald Eagles between 1420 and 1423, and, more than two hours later, the last two migrants, 2 adult Golden Eagles, glided south low in front of the ridge at 1634 and 1645. An adult Sharp-shinned Hawk was the only non-migrant seen. The consolation for low raptor numbers was again good views of all birds as they moved low and slow in front of the ridge.

5.25 hours (136.8) BAEA 3 (182), NOHA 2 (12), GOEA 2 (83) TOTAL 7 (445)



MOUNT LORETTE SUMMARY COUNT (September 20 to November 15)











Accipiter sp. (UA) 3






Buteo sp. (UB) 10


Eagle sp. (UE) 6






Falco sp. (UF) 3

Unidentified Raptor (UU) 2


TOTAL 3453