"Fall" migration begins

Just a couple days after the first official day of summer arrived, the season's first southbound shorebirds were reported in the area. While CT has seen just a trickle of a few birds, shorebird hotspots in the northeast are already seeing decent numbers (for the time of year) of southbound birds. It can be difficult or impossible to determine if certain individual birds are true migrants or just summering, but when we're talking about a re-appearance of Lesser Yellowlegs, Short-billed Dowitchers, and Least Sandpipers, we have our answer.

The current numbers and diversity at our latitude seems higher to me than is typical for late June. While it's exciting to kick off the summer shorebirding a bit early, this is possibly a sign that there was more failed breeding in the arctic than in a typical year. There are good breeding seasons and there are poor ones. And a poor breeding season in part of the arctic does not mean that is the case everywhere. But it makes you wonder. We'll see what the first-hand accounts from researchers say (I have yet so see any such reports myself, but they may be out there already).

Anyway, enjoy the summer 2012 shorebirding. I'll be away from July 21-29, prime time for adult shorb viewing, but plan on getting out locally when I'm in town. I'm not sure whether or not it is because of my relative lack of local birding over the past several months, but I have an especially strong itch to spend many hours scouring those shorebird and tern flocks this summer.

 - NB


  1. Nick,

    Yes failed breeders dictate how many early birds we might get, but there is another factor: If the spring was early and birds were able to arrive on their breeding grounds early, then that too accelerates the cycle.

    Here is a quick summary for the first early shorebirds in southern Ontario:

    Solitary Sandpiper -- one on June 16 at Tilbury (Blake A. Mann); super early, but it seems to fit in ok with the other early arrivals.

    Greater Yellowlegs -- one on June 23 at Mount Forest (AW).

    Lesser Yellowlegs -- three on June 22 at Point Pelee (AW); locally ties record-early date.

    Least Sandpiper -- one on June 24 at Point Pelee (AW).

  2. Thank you Alan. Very true, spring was early here but I have no idea about that far north. We should be hearing some news soon I would think. This morning I spent a couple hours at a local patch along the coast here and had a couple more migrant shorbs. I'm sure that I'm setting a few personal "early dates" this year.


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