Rocky Knob Migration Watch, Fall 2010: Report # 2

Summary for September 4th and 6th

September 4th was a rather cool day with winds gusting to near 30 miles per hour from the west northwest, becoming less later in the day. Not many birds were migrating, no dragonflies were, and only one butterfly a Variegated Fritillary.

Count efforts were in shifts with three teams covering a bit more than eight hours of watching for migrants. I took the first shift 8:30 till noon; Chris and Robin VanCantfort counted till 4 pm, and Bruce Grimes and Betsy Davies counted till 5:30.

Migrant hawks:

2 Sharp-shinned Hawks
3 Broad-winged Hawks
2 American Kestrels (one male and one female)
2 unidentified Accipiters (either Sharpie or Cooper's)

There were a couple of local Red-tailed Hawks. Chris and Robin observed a Sharpie attack one of the local RT's.

Other birds migrating: Chimney Swift 13, Ruby-throated Hummingbird 7, Purple Martin 1 male, Tree Swallow 1, Barn Swallow 4, Magnolia Warbler 1




OSPREY (photo by Bruce Grimes). This species is an uncommon migrant at Rocky Knob. This particular osprey was photographed in Christiansburg VA back in May.


September 6th was much milder than the 4th. Temperatures were in the 60's and 70's, winds were lighter from the southeast primarily.

First watchers for the day were Bruce Grimes and Pat Polentz, followed by John Ford, and Alan & myself. Chris and Robin had the 2nd shift.

Only 2 migrating raptors: one Osprey and one American Kestrel

Other migrating birds:

one unidentified sandpiper (size of Lesser Yellowlegs or thereabouts; I don't think it was that species, nor do I think it was a Solitary Sandpiper--but that's guessing or wishing)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 5
Tree Swallow 3
Rough-winged Swallow 1
Scarlet Tanager 1
Magnolia Warbler 3

Chimney Swifts were swirling about and so were not tallied (too hard to count!!!). There may have been as few as 7 to 10, but maybe more than 30.

There was one mixed flock of titmice and warblers at the gorge side of the pasture which included:

Eastern Wood-Peewee 1
Tufted Titmouse 3
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Tennessee Warbler 2
Magnolia Warbler 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler 3 (2 males, one female)
American Redstart 2 (immature males or females)



Cloudless Sulphur (photo by Bruce Grimes). This species is a rather common migrant at Rocky Knob in the fall. We see this species along the parkway in the spring and fall: individuals are flying northward in April and early May, and southward, or to the southwest in September and early to mid-October. Weird thing, in comparison, is that along the Atlantic Coast fall individuals continue to stream northward. The individual pictured here was photographed August 8th in Greene County, Tennessee.

Migrating Butterflies:

Cloudless Sulphur 2
Sleepy Orange 1
Little Yellow 1
Red Admiral 1
Polygonia species 1
Common Buckeye 15
Monarch 8

Also seen this day: A Zebra Swallowtail, only the 2nd record for the Rocky Knob Migration Watch. This species is common at lower elevations but occasionally disperses far from its caterpillar food plants, Pawpaws.

Migrating Dragonflies:

Common Green Darner 22
Spot-winged Glider 6
Wandering Glider 5
Black Saddlebags 7
Carolina Saddlebags 1



Little Yellow (photo by Bruce Grimes). This small sulphur is a very uncommon migrant at Rocky Knob. It is the first seen in close to 10 years in our pasture. Bruce photographed this individual in Patrick County on September 4th.