large American Robin dawn flights, Zone-tailed Hawk wake-up time

The largest numbers of American Robins are often recorded at dawn, as flock after flock flies overhead at that time of the morning in some areas. Today, the 22nd, large flocks at low to fairly high height were flying in a generally northerly direction from first light to a few minutes after true dawn in the Poway/Rancho Bernardo area. By the time it was  over, the count was at 1200 birds, and I likely missed a slug. Hundreds of waxwings flew by as well. I have seen similar dawn northbound flocks of robins on a couple other recent mornings, so I wonder if many of these birds are actually departing to the north already, or not. This is the second-highest count of robins, following the 1750 tallied by others not too far away at Lake Hodges back in December. But I wonder what other dawn counts might have been made countywide this winter.

After the robin show, a visit to Old Milky Way in the San Pasqual Valley produced a Ferruginous Hawk and a small number of Tricolored Blackbirds. But the main goal was to see Zone-tailed Hawks for free (sans $15 parking fee) coming out of their roost at the Safari Park, but viewed instead from a safe pullout along Old Milky Way near the Konyn Dairy. Despite the beautiful sunshine, many of the vultures did not start flying until well after 9AM, and the first couple Zone-taileds did not get up until 9:55-10:05. It was dead calm, and if there had been some wind, it is likely they would have risen somewhat sooner. A scope is required.

Paul Lehman, San Diego