Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Transition Time

I had some unexpected free time today and was able to spend late morning in the woods for the first time this spring, rewarded with many Palm and Pine Warblers, a lone Yellow-rump, drumming Sapsuckers and a backyard Pileated WP. Pine Siskins were also scattered about, many in pairs chasing each other around. While I didn't witness any copulation or stronger signs of nesting, I would imagine that some of these birds will be breeding locally.

I then spent some time at Milford Pt, where attention was switched back to gulls and waterfowl. No Brant were to be seen, but several hundred gulls were there including a second-winter Iceland.

I'm not used to gulling this late into spring (with the exception of the Boney flocks that are typically around into April). Every time I feel a warm breeze or hear a FOY spring migrant singing in the distance, I get sucked back into winter by gulls, geese, etc. Don't get me wrong...this is a very good thing. This year we have had more gulls and waterfowl around the shoreline than I can remember, including a few great rarities. It's just making the mental transition to spring a bit more difficult than usual.

A couple birds have helped nudge me in the right direction. Friday's Caspian Tern was a surprise, almost certainly a product of the moderate SW winds of the day before, as was a small spate of Laughing Gull sightings. A reported Summer Tanager on the 11th was also probably a product of the same stiff breeze, or a leftover bird from a strong storm system the week before. And this morning's warbler flocks, especially the singing Palm Warblers, were a great sign.

- Nick

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