Shortly after noon today I set up on Battle Hill in Greenwood Cemetery hoping to witness some raptor migration. The birds were coming through, but the clear conditions and lack of a low cloud deck kept most of the activity high and at scope length. There seemed to be two distinct tracks birds were taking; one from the NE heading SW and one from the south heading north, eventually using the northwest corner of the cemetery for an updraft and then drifting west towards Staten Island. The highlight was an apparent juvenile dark phase Broad-winged Hawk that came through around 1pm taking the latter of the two tracks, in scope view for roughly 3 minutes. A few people have asked for details so here is a summation of the field notes I took after the sighting and prior to consulting any references.
"Looked like a juv to me. It came bombing in from the south with two accipiters (it was slightly larger than) then slowly gained altitude west of battle hill before drifting off towards SI. The tail barring was dull and the bands were thin and more numerous than an adult would have. The upper wing seemed warmer near the body, but dark overall. Another birder asked initially if it could be a Raven because it looked all black in his scope. The underwings appeared dark, potentially lighter in the primaries and secondaries but hard to ascertain. Long, uniformly broad wings tapering to a relatively rounded tip. Lots of RTHA around and this one jumped out immediately as a small buteo. Classic BWHA shape on the gliding approach with leading edge curving back and short tail held square." Something I didn't mention in the notes was that the initial approach was from the south the bird was backlit and the ID to species was made by shape and size prior to realizing it was a dark bird. Only when it eventually soared due west of our location was the color apparent. Knowing this fall has had many well documented late BWHA records I wasn't shocked by the species, but was aware at the time of the potential for early Rough-legged Hawk. The small size of this bird and wing shape, along with it's quick wingbeats and flat wings when soaring all support BWHA and not RLHA. I stepped away from the scope twice in attempts to photograph the hawk and failed both times. This should give an idea of the distance in play. That said, the lighting for the last minute plus was sunny and without any real heat shimmer to speak of. I am not aware of how many records of dark morph birds there are in our area, but will be looking into it as well as checking some area hawkwatch data in the NE to see if there have been any dark morph birds coming through this year. If I find anything worth sharing I'll follow up to the list. Other highlights included; Sharp-shinned Hawk Cooper's Hawk Bald Eagle (adult) Osprey Merlin American Kestrel Purple Finch Cape May Warbler Good birding, Sean Sime Brooklyn, NY -- NYSbirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsWELCOME.htm http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsRULES.htm http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm ARCHIVES: 1) http://email@example.com/maillist.html 2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/NYSBirds-L 3) http://birding.aba.org/maillist/NY01 Please submit your observations to eBird: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ --