[CT Birds] Lighthouse Point Park Season Summary

Steve Mayo rsdmayo at sbcglobal.net
Sat Dec 5 12:20:42 EST 2009

Last Week Summary 
Things stayed quiet, as they do at the season's end.  The highlight was our end-of-season lunch!  There were few non-raptors of note, either.  On Thanksgiving I had at least 110 Brant along the beaches, including a couple each of adult and imm. intermediate (dark) plumage types.  There was also one that resembled the Gray Brant characteristics, described earlier on Nick's Bonomo's (11/5) Blog:
Here are the Lighthouse results.  Be sure to also click on the historical November and seasonal comparison tabs.  It doesn't take too long, to load:
November Summary
Again, it was a quiet November and we ended up with a "normal" total of 1,007 hawks.  We had 150 coverage hours, a reflection of the mid-November beach weather doldrums and other lackluster weather events (aka rain).  A highlight was a record November for RS (127).  On the down side, November NH (17) was appalling and SS (229) and ML (10) were also lowest in 10 years of Novembers.  
2009 Season Summary
We had a great year and tallied 12,892 diurnal raptors (1 Short-eared Owl) over 589 hours.  It was interesting to note that in spite of the season's rains, somebody always felt compelled to cover each and every day, if even for an hour or two.  What a devoted crew!
Our record day was September 25, when 2,835 hawks streamed through.  And they definitely were not all those stubby, arboreal Broad-wings, that so enamor other New Englanders.
Osprey totals (963) were half the 2008 total and below the previous 5-year (1326, s.d. 325) and 10-year (1245, s.d. 287) averages.  We had another great eagle year.  BE (150) numbers did about as well as the previous year (155).  CTBirds is currently having a discussion of the scarcity of NHs.  Harriers at LPP (330) were lowest than the previous 5 years raw totals.  For NH, the previous historical averages were 5-year (471, s.d. 156) and 10 yr (501, s.d.145).  
Sharpies (5321) rebounded ok compared to last year (4229) but was still a skinch below - note the standard deviation - the 5-year avg (5990, s.d.1011) and more significantly so, the 10-year (6271, s.d.1170).  Coops (1227) looked ok compared to both the previous 5-year (1128, s.d. 216) and 10-year (979, s.d. 297) averages.  
LPP continues to be the premier NE location to hone your SS/CH skills, and RS/RT skills, for that matter.  We had a great count for 'Shoulders (232), the best since those 1991-1992 boom years that I still personally remember.  These 2009 "swamp hawk" numbers blew away the previous 5-year (153, s.d. 24) and 10-year (121, s.d. 39) averages.   We totaled a somewhat low 576 'Tails but well within the deviation of the 5- and 10-year averages.   
Kestrels (1311) rebounded this year, even more so than SSs.  We know historically, things don't bode really well for AKs.  The previous 5-year and 10-year averages are 1334, s.d. 431 and 1539, s.d. 396, respectively.  The 342 Merlin totals fit nicely within previous 5- and 10-year averages and the 145 Peregrines help with a continuing trend upwards for PG.  Could our numbers be tainted by New Haven resident PGs?  Perhaps, but a lot of these birds went high, west and away with a great deal of peregr-enthusiasm.  
We had the usual rarities sprinkled around:  5 Black Vultures, 1 Rough-legged, 9 Golden Eagle and 7 Goshawk.  
I also want to review some of the other rarities that visited us this year.  Lighthouse isn't just for hawks.  Season highlights included Northern Gannet, Whimbrel, White-rumped Sandpiper, Common Raven, Red-headed Woodpecker, Dickcissels, Western Tanager, Vesper Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak and of course, Cave Swallows.  The usual season migration spectacle includes dozens of loons, kingbirds, gnatcatchers, nighthawks, orioles, purple finch, pipits, snow buntings.  It includes hundreds of RT Hummingbirds, Bobolink, Snow Geese, crows, gulls, bluebirds, finches.  It includes thousands of robins, Blue Jays, swallows and cowbirds.  And finally, November brings tens of thousands of RW Blackbirds and Grackles.    
Thanks so much to all the volunteers.  I will especially like thank the "official" counters (Greg Hanisek, Bill Banks, Lynn James, Robin McAllister, Steve Foisey, Tony Hager, Don Morgan, Dana Campbell, Randy Domina) as well as others (Dori Sosensky, Richard English, Paul Kenedy, Sulmann Khan, Sol Satin, Julian Hough, Nick Bonomo, Dan Barvir, Marty Moore, Judy Moore, Karl Ekroth, Carrie Folsom, Paul Roberts, Paul Desjardins, Ralph Amodei, Frank Gallo, Dave Fletcher, Jim Zipp, Carol Zipp, Carol Goertz, Tom Hanrahan, Tony Tortora, Arne Rosengren, et multi al). 
I can't wait til next August!
Steve Mayo

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