Wednesday, September 30, 2009

decent movement tonight

Not massive, but there are birds in the air tonight. Tomorrow morning should bring some new migrant waves to your favorite hotspot as we turn the calendar to October.



- NB

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Strong weather

If you live in the northeast you've probably noticed the windy weather we've had for the past couple days. A stiff SW wind is blowing here in CT for the second consecutive day. A couple days ago these SW winds were blowing in a straight line from Texas to the Great Lakes. This is the type of weather that a month from now would bring us Cave Swallows. While likely too early for any Caves (though not entirely out of the question given how they seem to only be increasing around here), we should be on alert for western stuff. Tim Spahr emailed me to let me know that this system is responsible for a few dozen Franklin's Gulls that just appeared in Ohio. We're due for a shift from SW to WNW for the next two days, so if anything is blown this far east we'll have a chance at them, particularly coastally once those winds shift tonight.

- NB

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tomorrow (Friday 9/25) should be good

UPDATE #2: Friday the 25th was by far the best day (numbers-wise) that I've ever had at Lighthouse Pt. We tallied over 2,800 hawks throughout the day including 1300+ Broad-wings and 1000+ Sharp-shinned Hawks. 15 Bald Eagles were also a highlight and tied the record single-day count for LHP. Twelve raptor species were seen at LHP and my Black Vultures along I-95 in the morning made for a personal baker's dozen on the day.

I had been there for a couple 1,200-or-so days before, but never anything like Friday. The moderate/strong North winds were to thank for the Broad-wing show, as LHP lies to the southeast of the main Broad-wing route, so strong winds are needed to push them that far to the southeast in any numbers. But amazingly even without the Broad-wings it would have been a personal LHP record.

Unfortunately we couldn't turn up anything really great like a Swainson's Hawk (one was seen by Paul Carrier in Burlington, CT that morning), but I'm not complaining after a show like that.

UPDATE: Here's a pic of the radar. Lit up like a Christmas tree.


[end update]

...for early-morning migrant passerines and for hawks later in the day. Tonight should be mostly clear and cooler (but not cold) with a northwest breeze. As a result, songbirds will be lighting up the radar tonight and should be plentiful in the morning at the typical migration traps. The forecast tomorrow is for a stiff North wind that should bring plenty of hawks past Lighthouse Point and Quaker Ridge. These windy days are when the coastal hawkwatches (i.e. Lighthouse Pt) really shine, as more birds are pushed against our east-west shoreline. I plan on taking a break from paper-writing and parking myself there tomorrow after an early morning of landbirding. I just hope there are enough clouds to help us find those specks in the sky.

- Nick

Strength in numbers

There are flocks, and then there are flocks.

September in New England means that dozens of bird species are on the move south. Some, like Peregrine Falcons, travel singly. Others, like the Broad-winged Hawk, travel in bunches. Broadies stage one of the most spectacular migratory shows that can be seen in the region...it's something that I've never truly witnessed myself. I have yet to see over 1,000 Broad-wings in one day, but there are days where over 10,000 are tallied in mid-Sept if the weather falls right. Last week I was fortunate enough to catch a fraction of that number in my hometown of Orange, CT. Though we're not talking thousands of birds, I did catch up with one kettle of 112 hawks.

video


Broadies and an Osprey

Another September phenomenon occurs in the Phragmites marshes of the lower Connecticut River. Each autumn evening a staggering number of Tree Swallows come to the river to roost. Numbers have been estimated as high as a half-million birds. It's hard to even imagine something like that. Hopefully some of the pics and video below will at least give an idea...but this is something that really needs to be seen to be believed.

video


a small fraction of the couple hundred thousand birds




all those specks in the sky...swallows


kayakers here for the show

This spectacle is only visible by boat. Cruises can be booked through Connecticut Audubon EcoTravel. In addition to the swallows we had great looks at 5 Bald Eagles and other typical species on the boat ride to the marsh.

- Nick

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wheatear continues

The adult male Northern Wheatear at Sikorsky Airport in Stratford continues to put on a show for visitors, which have included several out-of-staters. I was able to get some nice digiscoped pics last week, and below is my best.



- NB

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

LIS and more surprise hawks

Went out on Long Island Sound today with Greg Hanisek for some fishing and birding. One bluefish, a small porgy, but no good birds. Still a great calm day to be out there.

Got home around 3:30 pm and decided to sit in the yard with a beer with an eye on the sky. I was again surprised and impressed with the afternoon hawk flight for the next hour: 7 Osprey, 2 SS Hawk, a Kestrel and a Merlin.

Speaking of Long Island Sound and its lack of pelagics, Tim Spahr (see his migration website) emailed me in regards to the low pressure system slowly tracking up the east coast. He pointed out to me that the pressure gradient between that system and high pressure will result in east-to-northeast winds for southern New England from tonight into Friday. Here in southern CT we may experience 15-20 mph sustained winds at times, and they may even be prolonged. While not a tropical system, this wind could increase our chances for jaegers along our coastline, especially further east. Of course any pelagic species in Connecticut waters is a welcome one. Keep an eye out if you can...it's a fine time of year to be watching the water. This type of weather has also been known to bring a Hudsonian Godwit or two to our state.

- Nick

Sunday, September 6, 2009

surprise hawk flight

I stepped outside this afternoon to fire up the grill and looked up to see an adult Bald Eagle migrating overhead. I took this as a clue to pay attention to the skies. Sure enough a few minutes later a Sharpie and Kestrel passed by. An hour of casual watching produced the eagle, a Broad-wing, 5 Sharpies, 3 Kestrels and a non-migrating Osprey. Not bad for east winds! All migrants were heading WSW.

Also a few common warblers flitting around the treetops.

- NB

Saturday, September 5, 2009

NORTHERN WHEATEAR (adult male) in Stratford, CT



Paul Desjardins and Mona Cavallero found a nice adult male NORTHERN WHEATEAR at Sikorsky Airport in Stratford today. I was able to get down there in the afternoon and watch the bird with a handful of others. The bird remained active for much of the time I was there, often flycatching from the fence or chasing insects on the ground.

The bird can be IDed as an adult male by it's striking blackish lores/auriculars at this time of year.

My mediocre photos do not do this bird any justice!











- NB