Thursday, March 13, 2014

Beamer (Hawkwatch) Thoughts - March 2014

I (pretty much) started my birding career at Beamer Conservation Area in Grimsby... The location of the Niagara Peninsula Hawkwatch, the raptors passing overhead did a pretty good job of getting me "hooked" - and from there, it's history.

Fast forward a bunch of years (16? 17? 18?) and I've done my fair share of hawkwatching around the province - spring and fall! So now, I'm going to do my best to guess some possible situations for how things are going to shake down over the next 4 weeks...

Some of the absolute best days at Beamer in the spring are pretty darn cold. Once Red-shouldered Hawks start to arrive, look or days where the forecast says something along the lines of "Sunny, winds sound 5kph (or 10kph)... 

These conditions occur during high pressure - and the bright sun starts to provide some heat to the land - causing the air to rise. The super-cool Lake Ontario however has other thoughts in mind, causing air to sink as it passes over. What happens next? A lake breeze! Winds at beamer will shift to the NE at 10-20kph and you'll have the perfect setup. Air riding up the face of the escarpment - providing lift for migrating Red-tails and Red-shoulders - to pass by (just to the north) - low enough for some fantastic views!

If you get the above conditions, you'll have a pretty good day (as long as it isn't stupidly cold). Beyond that, i see some wild cards for the migration this spring (March).

Wildcard #1 - there are a LOT of raptors south of us this winter. Especially Rough-legged Hawks, Northern Harriers and American Kestrels. These species BAILED out of the province with all of our cold and snow. Sooner or later, they're going to return. Will beamer see superb counts of these species in 2014???

Wildcard #2 - AWFUL WEATHER. All indications are pointing towards continued outbreaks of exceptionally cold air well into March. Will birds like Turkey Vultures move north in March, if it stays cold? We may be setting ourselves up for a remarkable flight in April - if things stay awful for the entire month. 

- but I've also seen the opposite happen. Maybe those Harriers and Rough-legs (mentioned earlier) will push north anyways - under conditions that do NOT concentrate them at Beamer... Causing the flight to be "missed"... This seems to happen most often with Broad-wings, but could easily apply this March to others with bad weather. 

- the only benefit I see from this cold air would be a possible increase in Bald Eagle sightings - simply because they are focused around Lake Ontario right now will all this added ice. Heck, they may not all be migrants - but the people at Beamer will count them!

So yeah! Some random thoughts. We'll see how it shakes down. I won't be around to watch though (until late March at the possible earliest). 

No comments:

Post a Comment