Today started out with migrants trying to get lift into a low cloud ceiling with little wind and no thermals at the BRRI Cattle Landing Hawkwatch, run by Belize Raptor Research Institute. Thousands of dragonflies were on site for the first few hours, which made it difficult to spot the few raptors that were attempting to head south (the swallows however, had a field day). Dragonflies lined the power lines and were in every direction you could scan.
A few groups of 2-5 Hook-billed Kites that spent the night nearby tried hard to head southwest in the first hour, but we saw most of them head back north low, or slowly rise into the clouds out of view. A group of five even appeared to drop back into the forest to land. Eventually the group of five lifted off again in the second hour and finally had enough lift to head south.
After about two hours, the clouds began to clear and the last of the Hook-billed Kites headed south. By 12:00, we had tallied 33 Hook-billed and that would be all for the day. A migrant Osprey, a single Northern Harrier, and two Broad-winged Hawks were the only other migrants for the morning. By 1:00, clouds had completely moved out, and the blazing sun made for a slow afternoon with the usual suspects passing through the site (about 30-40 Black Vultures , 3-5 Turkey Vultures, King Vultures, and handful of Short-tailed Hawks). Two scaup also flew by the site heading north; the amount of white in the wings of the male shown below suggests Greater, but that would be a first record for the Belize in eBird so I am looking for more opinions on this bird’s identification.
At one point, the local Bat Falcon came out to wreak havoc on anything in sight, and today a dark morph adult Short-tailed Hawk was the victim. Bat Falcon (as he is affectionately known) took a few dives at the hawk, but the Shorty quickly barrel-rolled out of the way. I must admit that I am completely enamored by Bat Falcon, and I can’t help but track his frantic angry flights over the site. He is smaller than an American Kestrel but has the tenacity ten times that of an angry Merlin. How can you not love Bat Falcon!? My goal is to get a good picture of him before I leave, but for now I will settle with these distant shots of him being a troublemaker.