Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nighthawk Watching and Potential Red-breasted Nuthatch Irruption?

After seeing all of the Common Nighthawks flying low around my yard last evening prior to hitting Sterling Peat with Alan, I decided to camp out this evening and do a little nighthawk watching in my yard with all the comforts of home.

Which included a new beer for me this year which was the Shipyard Pumpkin Ale which is really tasty.  You know summer is coming to an end when you are outside drinking pumpkin ale and searching for nighthawks vs a month ago when you're drinking summer ale and looking at the Chimney Swifts but do think Chris E would approve.

Anyhow, I'd get myself all situated and get ready for the killer views and would finally get 2 of them flying very high overhead.  I'd waste about 10 minutes waiting for the next wave which would never happen so I had to resort to looking at the Rock Pigeons across the street near the factory. :-p

Another would fly by about 15 minutes after that and headed in the direction of the local Red-tailed Hawk who was perched on the Chimney the Chimney Swifts were roosting in just one short month ago.

After about 45 minutes or so I'd have 4 Common Nighthawks  total, 6 Mallards flying overhead, a LARGE flock of Chimney Swifts flying high overhead (21 in total), 2 Double-crested Cormorants and a European Starling and juvenile Norther Mockingbird who were hanging out with each other across the street which struck me as odd, especially because they were like that for 10 minutes total so I'm guessing they were enjoying each others company!  I'd call it a night at about 7 or so as migration was light so I'll be curious to see who's reporting what number wise this evening.

And speaking of reports, I'd notice a continuing trend on the New England listserv's for the number of Red-breasted Nuthatches being recorded recently.  It's something I've notice myself the past two weeks as I've gotten this bird at both Sterling Peat and Notre Dame during that time so was wondering if others were having the same success and based on what I'm seeing, they are.

And not only on the Massachusetts Listserve, but the New Hampshire one as well.

And CT which I thought was an interesting post.  I'm especially interested in watching reports of Red Crossbills as I've been seeing more reports of it being seen so hoping to get this life bird in Worcester County this year.  I've attached a link to a PDF documents that talks about Northern Irruption boreal birds and thought the correlation between Red-breasted Nuthatches and White-winged Crossbills was interesting.
Winter Finch's

And here is PA.  BTW:  I'm loving the listserv's all on the ABA now as you can get all the feeds at once to see what's going on in other parts of the country which is pretty nifty.

So being curious and all I decided to do some analysis via eBird to see if it could tell me anything.
And the first thing I'd pull was total New England and look at five years worth of data using frequency as my measure (frequency=the % total of the bird on eBird checklists) and as you can see the numbers have jumped since the third week in July.

And now for total count where you will notice 2012 numbers being higher than any of the other years (2010 ranking second overall but with a lot more noise.)

And now Massachusetts only based again on frequency where the trend continues with the chart starting to climb the 3rd week in July and peeks the end of the 1st week of August.

And looking at total number of nuthatches being reported it still is higher than the 2010 numbers.  I should note you will see a drop in all data for 2012 for 8/22 so I'm guessing that's due to data lag for eBird and that number will increase once its updated and I'll be curious to see where it is in relation to 2010 once it does.

And finally Worcester County which makes no sense to me so I won't even attempt to explain it but note that perhaps there isn't enough checklists submitted overall to make this data explainable.

So to make a long story short, keep your eyes and ears out for Red-breasted Nuthatches this fall and winter, especially your feeders.  It will also be interesting to see the numbers for the CBC's as Red-breasted Nuthatch's are always welcome birds during them considering how sporadic they can be count wise.

Take care all.


Larry said...

I've had nighthawks pass by my area near CT River where I live. I've never actively tried to seek them out so you've given me an idea. I need to start playing around with e-bird features more too.-interesting post.

Kim said...

Larry, eBird is an amazing data analysis tool so take some time to tinker with it. Yes nighhthawk watching is a lot of fun but the numbers have been really low this year for some reason so I haven't done it as much as the past but when you have a large kettle to look at, it's an amazing thing to see!

Larry said...

It certainly looks like an irruption of red breasted nuthatch's and Red Crossbills is underway. Time will tell if more birds get involved. Nice how eBird lets you get looks at all the data and see trends beyond your own observations.


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