September Happenings at Dan’s Rock
The middle of September has produced some of the best days of the season at Dan’s Rock. On days with winds out of the north, I have enjoyed peak warbler diversity and the start of raptor migration here in the western part of the state. September 15th and 16th were two such days, and 1,000+ migrants were counted on both days! Finches have begun to move in earnest as over 600 American Goldfinches were counted between the two days migrating down the ridge in small groups all morning. Mixed in with the goldfinches were two Purple Finches and the first Pine Siskin of the season on the 16th. This early siskin is hopefully another good sign that we have a good finch winter ahead of us. There continue to be excellent warbler numbers at the rock, with over 1,000 individuals tallied between those two aforementioned mornings. Cape May Warblers continue to be the most abundant species, but Black-throated Green, Tennessee, and Black-throated Blue Warblers have all been putting in good showings as well.
The first hour after sunrise is typically the busiest of the morning at the rock, but now the late morning has some extra excitement with raptors on the move. The real stars of the show have been Broad-winged Hawks which are always the most abundant raptor for September migration watches in the ridge-and-valley region. 434 Broad-wings have been counted this season as they make their way down to South and Central America for the winter. By noon on September 20th, 169 of these small forest hawks had gone by Dan’s Rock. Bald Eagles have also had some solid mid-September counts, seven flew by on the 20th which helped push the season total to 21. Sharp-shinned Hawks, Osprey, and Northern Harriers are some of the other raptor species that have put in appearances in the last few weeks.
As September has progressed, new later season migrants have started to show. The most obvious of these are Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, and Blue Jays. The morning of September 26th produced the first triple-digit jay day and there should hopefully be plenty more mornings that repeat this. Red-breasted Nuthatches continue to come through in good numbers, the 19 on September 20th were a new season high count. Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Blue-headed Vireo, American Pipit, and White-breasted Nuthatch are all later fall migrants that were recorded for the first time this season in the last two weeks.
Of course, birds are not the only taxa migrating past Dan’s Rock. A number of butterfly species had their season high counts in mid-September. The obvious star of the show is the Monarch with 593 counted so far this season. Daily counts of 165 and 158 have been fun to observe, it is always a treat to see these butterflies fluttering along next to migrant raptors as they all head south together. Red-spotted Purples, Red Admirals, and Eastern Tiger Swallowtails are some of the other butterfly species that have been moving down the ridge in recent mornings.
Thanks for reading!
One thought on “September Happenings at Dan’s Rock”
It is so much fun to read each update. Thank you for your work and sharing what is passing by you on the rock each morning.