The Ashland Hawk Watch was held every day between October 16-30, 2022, but was shortened on two days due to weather. The period of October 23-26 had overall poor conditions with clouds, rain, and fog. Otherwise most days were sunny with light winds.
The peak day during the second half of October was the 28th with 509 migrants, including a new single-day record of 118 Red-shouldered Hawks. Three Golden Eagles were counted. It was the lowest October ever for Ospreys with only 22. It was the second highest October ever for Bald Eagles and Red-shouldered Hawks. This was the fourth highest October total ever for Ashland.
Purple Finches were seen regularly throughout the period. An American Woodcock was a nice surprise on the 21st. The first Evening Grosbeak of the season was spotted on the 28th with three more on the 31st. The monarch total for the period was 35.
October 2022 migrant raptor totals:
Black Vulture – 247
Turkey Vulture – 2,332
Osprey – 22
Bald Eagle – 255
Northern Harrier – 56
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 665
Cooper’s Hawk – 228
Red-shouldered Hawk – 312
Broad-winged Hawk – 19
Red-tailed Hawk – 318
Golden Eagle – 3
American Kestrel – 161
Merlin – 36
Peregrine Falcon – 9
Unidentified – 5
The Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch had a total of 1,658 raptors observed during the last two weeks of October, giving us a total of 7,620 birds for the season. The highest counts during that period occurred with light northwest and west winds on October 18 and 19 and north-northwest winds on October 27 after rain events. The highest count day was on October 18 when 509 migrants were seen. No observations were conducted on October 23 and 24, due to fog and rain. Limited observations occurred on October 25 and 26, also due to fog and rain.
A front passed through on the night of October 17 which was followed by cooler temperatures and a couple of days of light west to northwest winds. On October 18, a total of 509 raptors migrated past the platform. Our first big flight of Turkey Vultures (120) occurred that day. Sharp-shinned Hawks dominated the count with 205 recorded along with our season high count of Cooper’s Hawks (50) and a total of 62 Kestrels. Light westerly winds on October 19 produced 296 raptors, including our season high count of Turkey Vultures with 165, most of which came across the water from Cape May. The passage of another front that produced 4 days of rain and fog brought another big flight of raptors on October 27, when 380 birds were observed. The season high count of Northern Harriers (23) was recorded that day along with 140 Sharp-shinned Hawks and 72 Kestrels. The total season count of Sharp-shinned Hawks (2,090) has surpassed the number of Osprey (1,868) observed for the first time since I started monitoring at Henlopen in 2012. Golden Eagles were seen on October 18 and 29 and the first Northern Goshawk observed at Henlopen since 2018 flew over from Cape May on October 30.
Non-raptor species observed in late October include our first Brant on October 28, American Wigeon and Greater Scaup were seen the last week of the month. Large flocks of Surf and Black scoters passed on October 28 and 29, along with White-winged Scoters. Three late Common Nighthawks flew by on October 26 and a flock of Oystercatchers (25) passed on October 28. Parasitic Jaegers were seen from the platform several times with 3 observed on October 31. Great Cormorants were recorded on October 28 and 29. A Cattle Egret flew north along the shoreline on October 27. A Pileated Woodpecker flew past on October 31. White-breasted Nuthatches were observed several times in the last week of the month. A Swamp Sparrow was foraging near the platform and Rusty Blackbirds flew by on October 28.
Cape Henlopen had 239 visitors to the platform during the two weeks, averaging 18 visitors a day. High visitor days included 34 on October 22, 34 on October 29, and 24 on October 30. The Caroline County Bird Club from Maryland visited the hawk watch on October 22.
The total volunteer hours for the two weeks was 225 hours. Fewer hours were volunteered due to the multiple days of bad weather in late October. A total of 923 hours has been volunteered at the hawk watch since the start of the season.