Sunday, November 10, 2019

2019 Bridger Mountains Hawk Watch



The Bridger Mountains Hawk Watch is underway!  Our site is listed at Hawk Migration Association of North America here:

Bridger Mountains

Make sure and check out our daily flight summaries below which will be updated almost daily throughout the season.  Also, click the subscription links on the right sidebar to get notifications of new posts, content and a newsletter delivered by email if you would like.  More to come of course as our blog is a work in progress, but if you notice any glaring errors or dead links please give me a shout and we will get it corrected.

Monday, October 14, 2019

October 14 Daily Flight Summary


Official Counter         

Adam Richardson      

Observers       

None

Weather         

Mostly cloudy skies of cumulus and high cirrus clouds kept things surprisingly cold today on the ridge with a low of -5C at 9:00.  Low clouds were right on the top of Ross Peak and obscuring the high peaks to the north.  By 10:30 the clouds had lifted.  Thermal lift was poor for the entire count.  Winds primarily out of the west at 9-23kph.  By 15:30 the skies had cleared off rapidly for the remainder of the count with stratus clouds forming and a high temp of 1C.  The barometric pressure was low and rose steadily.  Visibility was excellent for most of the count with over 100km on the east and 86km on the west.

Raptor Notes 

37 raptors moved through in little pulses, never averaging more than 11 an hour.  CH 2 RT 3 GE 29 NH 2 BE 1.  The first migrant of the day was an immature COHA that took a swipe at the Tilly owl.  The bird then vaporized into the low clouds and wasn’t seen again heading south.

Resident GOEA were all over the ridge today, possibly covering more ground than the migrants.  One adult went after a migrant, then chased a large passerine nearly taking it out near Ross Peak.  I have never witnessed a GOEA going after a songbird, but I have seen one take out a mallard hen at Summit Lake Indian Reservation.  Another exciting display occurred when two sub-adult GOEA appeared on the west slope of Tilly dogfighting.  I have definitely observed one, but the other kept flying south.  This is the first detection of two sub-adults exhibiting residential behavior for these seasons count.

Non-raptor Notes

GCRF (239) continue to migrate south along the ridge.

Visitors           

Katee and Erin of Bridger Bowl were up for a visit.  It was cold during their visit, but they were able to see some Golden Eagle come through and meet the Bridger All-Stars!

Next Day Forecast

Mostly sunny, with a high near 47. Southwest wind 6 to 11 mph.

Today’s flight was kind of slow, so I am hoping tomorrow the flight will pick up a little.

Oct. 13, 2019 Total  (Season)
Turkey Vulture – 0 (15)
Osprey –  0 (13)
Bald Eagle – 0 (41)
Northern Harrier – 2 (79)
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 22 (441)
Cooper’s Hawk – 5 (316)
Northern Goshawk – 3 (24)
Broad-winged Hawk – 1 (24)
Red-tailed Hawk – 4 (137)
Rough-legged Hawk – 0 (2)
Swainson’s Hawk – 0 (7)
Ferruginous Hawk – 0 (6)
Golden Eagle – 56 (738)
American Kestrel – 1 (117)
Merlin – 1 (23)
Peregrine Falcon – 0 (27)
Gyrfalcon – 0 (0)
Prairie Falcon – 0 (14)
Unknown Accipiter – 1 (34)
Unknown Buteo – 1 (10)
Unknown Falcon – 1 (3)
Unknown Eagle – 0 (1)
Unknown Raptor – 1 (13)
Total – 99 (2085)

Sunday, October 13, 2019

October 13 Daily Flight Summary




Official Counter         

Matt Keefer
Adam Richardson

Observers       

Chris Caudill
Avery Caudill

Weather         

Partly cloudy skies of high cirrus clouds for most of the count.  Thermal lift was poor until about 13:30 when it improved to fair.  Winds were light out of the west at 6-15kph.  Low temperature of 2C at 8:30 quickly warming to 7C by 12:30. The barometric pressure was low but steady.  Visibility to the east and west was excellent for most of the day at over 100km.  There has been a haze visible to the west for about 2 days now.  This has dropped visibility incrementally as the sun proceeds west in the afternoon.  By 15:30 stratus clouds were forming on the west and the additional high cloud cover was excellent to keep spotting migrating raptor silhouettes against.

one of our resident adult GOEA perched on the index finger of Ross Peak

Raptor Notes 

99 migrants moved through the Bridger Range: SS 22 CH 5 NG 3 UA 1 RT 4 UB 1 AK 1 GE 56 NH 2 UU 1 ML 1 BW 1 UE 1.  The first bird of the day was a beautiful adult female SS.  She was coming in on the near owl when she changed her mind and took a swipe at Rambo our CLNU.  It took Rambo by surprise and he wasn’t pleased.  The SS never did see me in the bling and went for 4-5 swipes at the near owl which Rambo didn’t like either.  He finally gave chase at the SS, but she could care less.  The flight picked up around 11:00 with approximately 10 birds coming through.  From then until 15:00 we managed 20 birds an hour.  We were able to spot a late BW coming through, following the line of the FH the last few days out over Battle Ridge.  The GE kept flying right up until the end of the count with 9 an hour for the 15:00-17:00 hours.  An unknown NG came through in the last hour very close to the OP.  For the most part birds flew on the west side of the ridge, and it seemed that the vast majority were coming in from the east side of the ridge.  Very few were detected coming in over the treed ridge on the west.

this NOSH was interested in some of the Bridger All-Stars


Non-raptor Notes

Over 1123 GCRF came south along the ridge today in several flocks numbering into the hundreds.  The PIGR are beginning to localize in all of their favorite perches on both sides of the OP.  Towards the end of the count I caught a NOSH out of the corner of my eye possibly taking a swipe at one of the Bridger All-Stars.  All hell broke loose of course and Ned was certainly the bravest.  The NOSH took another swipe at Ned our RBNU and I was worried possibly he had met his demise, but he just vacated the area.  Both Ned and Edwin were back to visit at the hut in the evening.  Our CLNU family unit has grown quite raucous in the afternoon.  They have figured out that there is peanuts at the OP again, and I believe Rambo is back and keeping a close eye on what he deems to be his territory.  Lots of begging cries and other strange vocalizations have been occurring between themselves.

The black bear sow and cub continue to forage near the OP.  7 mountain goats continue to loaf and graze on the east face of Tilly.


Visitors           

8 visitors stopped by and all were able to see migrating GOEA and the mountain goats.  The Bridger All-Stars made some more new friends.  Matt Keefer was up with his friends Chris and Avery who helped spot several migrants as they came through and they helped track and age GOEA.



Next Day Forecast

Mostly sunny, with a high near 36. Breezy, with a west wind 16 to 26 mph.

Tomorrow will likely see another large movement of raptors.  I don’t have any additional coverage for Monday so I could definitely use an extra set of eyes.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

October 12 Daily Flight Summary


The Mountain Belles came up for a visit


Official Counter         

Judy Tsiang
Adam Richardson

Observers       

Eric Bendick
Mike Jones

Weather         

Another all-star bluebird day in the Bridger Range!  Thermal lift was poor for the entire count.  Winds out of the west at 11-24kph.  Low temperature of -2C warming to 3C by 14:30. The barometric pressure was high and steady for the count.  Visibility was excellent at over 100km to both the E and W.

Raptor Notes 

Today felt almost like a carbon copy of yesterday’s flight.  55 total came through: 5 SS 2 NG UA 1 RT 2 GE 40 NH 1 UU 1 FH 1 BE 2.  Like yesterday the birds didn’t begin to move through until noon when we started having 18 an hour, mostly Golden Eagle.  Another distant FH was seen heading east from the vicinity of the Tilly owl out over Battle Ridge and towards the Crazy Mountains.  A NG flew by quite close to the west of the OP and several visitors got a good look at it.

Resident GOEA were again seen dogfighting and escorting migrants away from the vicinity of Ross Peak.  An adult light-morphed RT was seen kiting over Ross Pass in the afternoon as well.

Non-raptor Notes

A couple of smaller flocks of GCRF continue to migrate south along the ridge.  PIGR are on the increase possibly localizing in the area.  A BRCR was heard mixing in with the Bridger All-Stars to the west of the OP.  7 mountain goats were foraging most of the afternoon on the east face of Tilly.  Near the end of the count the sow black bear and cub were back foraging again of the west slope of the ridge.



Michelle making a friend for life!

Visitors           

The Mountain Belles out of Bozeman came up for a visit today!  Michele Eckhardt organized a wonderful trip to the Bridger Mountains Hawk Watch.  Michele is an excellent trip leader as she is very organized and literally got her group to the ridge right when the Golden Eagle started to fly for the afternoon.  We saw several species of raptor and everyone got well acquainted with some of the Bridger All-Stars.  The Bridger All-Stars are friends for life with the group as they hiked up several pounds of peanuts (thanks to Debi Niccarto owner of Wild Birds Unlimited, Bozeman for suggesting the visit and provisioning them with peanuts).  Eric Bendick and Mike Jones of Grizzly Creek Films in Bozeman were back up getting more footage of Golden Eagle.  Eric and Mike both helped spot several birds.  Thanks to Judy Tsiang for being our second counter today and especially for the Wild Crumb goodies!

of course Ned wasn't shy


Next Day Forecast

Sunny, with a high near 43. South wind 9 to 13 mph becoming west in the afternoon.

Matt Keefer will be to count tomorrow so I guarantee we will have plenty of birds to tally.  Sunday is going to be another all-star day to visit the Bridger Mountains Hawk Watch and learn a little more about raptor migration!

the CLNU is thinking about it, but still not sure

Friday, October 11, 2019

October 11 Daily Flight Summary


Official Counter         

Mikaela Howie
Bob Smith
Adam Richardson

Observers       

None

Weather         

Cold clear day with a temp of -11C and a west wind of 13-28kph.  Thermal lift was poor for the entire count.  By 11:30 the temperature rose to -6C and stayed constant until 17:00 at the end of the count.  The barometric pressure was steady and high.  Visibility was excellent 100km to both the east and west for the entire day.

Raptor Notes 

Today’s flight began with an immature NOGO flying directly at the OP from the vicinity of Ross Pass.  Only a few birds trickled through per hour until noon when things began to pick up.  52 migrants came south between 12:00-17:00, notably GE (46).  Bob Smith picked up two lovely FH, one a light-morphed adult that has to be the best look I have had this year.  Especially with all of the snow on the mountains lighting it up on this bluebird day.  Mikaela Howie kept the rhythm going until the close of the count picking up GE and BE (2) in the last hours of the count.
58 SS 6 NG 2 GE 46 NH 1 FH 1 BE 2.  Most of the migrants flew to the west side of the ridge, with some coming in from the east near Ross Pass and some flying in from the west low over the junction of the treed ridge.  The exception on today’s flight path would be the two FH which both came in from the east, flew to the vicinity of Tilly, cranked a couple of turns then headed out towards the Crazy Mountains over Battle Ridge.

A resident sub-adult GE was seen dogfighting with a migrant that was lingering too long in the vicinity of Ross Peak around 13:30. Our resident PR was seen investigating an immature NG flying north.  The NG disappeared north of Tilly while the PR moved back south along the west side of the ridge.

Non-raptor Notes

10 CEDW flew through the pass in front of the OP in the morning.  The mountain goats were out again along the east ridge of Tilly.

Visitors           

None

Next Day Forecast

Sunny, with a high near 38. Southwest wind 10 to 13 mph.

Tomorrow should be another fine fall day in the Bridger Range with a good flight of migrating raptors!  We still need to tally another 700 Golden Eagle.  We welcome the extra sets of eyes right now during peak migration if your able to come up and help scan for eagles.  Migration will continue at a good pace until around the 20th of October.  If you haven’t made it up this year definitely think about a visit in these next 9 days.