Aside from the pure beauty and serenity of the Florida Keys, this chain of tropical islands now offers a little something extra for their winter visitors. With continued increases over the years, the Florida Keys Hawkwatch has broken their own record for Peregrine Falcon sightings at a single monitoring site.
Located in the Middle Keys region of the Florida Keys, the Florida Keys Hawkwatch operated daily, rain or shine, between September 15th through November 2nd at Curry Hammock State Park. This park is one of the best in the region for avid birders and features an on-site campground and kayak and paddleboard rentals. It operates as the largest uninhabited parcel of land between Key Largo and Big Pine Key and aside from birding, it a great location to spend some time on the water or hiking its bayside trail.
The magic happened on October 10, 2015 when observers were treated with the ability to tally 1506 migratory Peregrine Falcons. There has never been another location or count that has ever yielded higher numbers of peregrine falcons in one single day and the new record shattered the organization's previous record of 651 peregrine falcons recorded in October 2012.
All records aside, the 2015 season began rather slowly and had counters and organizers expecting somewhat of a dismal year. In fact, counts were quite low as Hurricane Joaquin ravaged the seas, just off the eastern seaboard and created a number of other weather systems in its wake.
Researchers believe that this inclement weather undoubtedly had a lot to do with the smaller number of sightings through September and into October.
Then, the numbers began to rise. The first triple digit sighting day was marked on October 6, as observers tallied 233 peregrine falcons and left organizers hopeful that their season would only improve from here. They were not left to be disappointed. The following days kept watchers busy as 274 migrating peregrine falcon were recorded on October 8th and the very next day the Hawkwatch surpassed a goal of theirs and now had recorded over 1500 migrating peregrine falcons.
The rest as they saw is history and despite a slow start, the organizers and those who participated were granted the opportunity to view so many of these majestic raptors and cement a place in history. In total, the Florida Keys Hawkwatch recorded over 3000 peregrine falcons in 2015, along with a variety of other raptors as well. Below is a list of all the species recorded in 2015 as well as their totals.