Beamer Point Migrants on April 19, 2008

Around this time of April, the broad-winged hawks start migrating north in large numbers and the right conditions can produce movements in the thousands of birds. In some 15+ years of hawk watching, its one of the few migrations I haven’t seen and every year I try my luck with usually poor results. April 19, 2008 was no exception. The weather looked great with southwest winds. The previous day, with similar weather, had produced over 1,700 birds with around 800 broadwings, an excellent day for Beamer Point.

 I arrived early at Beamer and the first bird that I saw was a broadwing sitting in a tree just as I drove in which I thought was a good start to the day. I went for a walk in the woods to see what passerines (song birds) I could find migrating and I managed to see a good collection of mid-April migrants which also helped set an expectant mood.

After I finished setting up the camera and started looking around, I noticed another broadwing. By about 9:30 AM there were 3 broadwings sitting in the trees waiting for it to warm up. As usual, Beamer was freezing with a north east wind blowing off the lake. While the rest of Ontario enjoyed warm weather in the low 20C range, Beamer was around 10-15C.

The raptors appeared to be migrating to the south of the park kettling just outside the park, mostly along the road. Once in a while a bird would come overhead which I dutifully photographed. After watching the birds migrating low over the road and not being able to get any pictures, I moved out of the parking lot and eventually set up outside of the park and managed to get some good shots of migrating broadwings and sharp-shinned hawks. I took about 700 photographs during the day and managed to get about 15 decent pictures.

Unfortunately, the expected big push didn’t happen and the birds were few and far between. Most people spent more time watching the purple finches than watching raptors. A gallery of pictures is available:

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The birds seen included:

Common Loon, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Turkey Vulture, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Mallard, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Killdeer, Herring Gull, Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, Tree Swallow, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, American Robin, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Blue Jay, American Crow, European Starling, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Purple Finch, House Finch, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird.

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