Sunday, September 20, 2020

Willard's Island Morning Flight Update

This past weekend I spent both mornings monitoring Morning Flight at the north tip of Willard's Island inside Hammonasset Beach State Park. On the heels of a strong cold front, birds would be moving. The flights were reasonably productive relative to other regional Morning Flight locations, so I have hope that this site will prove to be a reliable location to observe this phenomenon to some degree when the weather is right. Time will tell.

Saturday (9/19) was the better day. From 630-930am, 420 individual warblers flew out the north tip of Willard's (2.33 birds/minute). Twelve species of warbler flew out, the best being one CONNECTICUT WARBLER. Northern Parula was the most common warbler. Forty-six Flickers were on the move too. 

It was a slow but steady movement throughout the entire time period. Nearly all birds seen were solely in flight, as I positioned myself too far from the trees/shrubs to see birds there. Identifications were made from a combination of field views and "back-of-camera" views. Most birds were giving flight calls.

I added two warbler species on the walk back, and others reported a few more around Willard's, making the island total at least 17 warbler species for the morning. But overall, Willard's Island itself was rather quiet after the flight died. It did not seem to hold many birds, simply serving as a conduit to the mainland for reorienting passerines.

Morning Flight stationary eBird checklist:
https://ebird.org/checklist/S73805215

Click images to enlarge:
Blackpoll Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler

Northern Parula (left) and Black-and-white Warbler


Cape May Warbler

Cape May Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler

Tennessee Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler

"Myrtle" Yellow-rumped Warbler

"Yellow-shafted" Northern Flicker

"Yellow" Palm Warbler

"Yellow" Palm Warbler

Sunday (9/20) was quite slow at the tip. From 700-845am, 60 warblers flew out (0.57 birds/minute), some doubling-back to land as they would not commit to crossing the marsh. We tallied nine warbler species flying out, Parula being dominant. Contrary to the day before, there were some warblers lingering on Willard's itself and near the trailhead/outhouse, fifteen species counted to my knowledge. There were also a couple each of both kinglets, Blue-headed Vireos, and Dark-eyed Juncos, all hinting that October is not far away.

Morning Flight stationary eBird checklist:

For those not interested in frustrating views of warblers shooting through the sky (most of you), I would not be surprised if many of these birds stop in the vegetation on Willard's and filter northward to its tip before making the marsh crossing. In other words, anywhere along those trails might be a fine place to view these birds in the trees and shrubs in their brief visit before they continue northward into the wind. I may give that a shot one day instead of doing the Morning Flight thing.

Remember that Hammonasset Beach State Park's "Early Entry" option ends at 6:30am and requires a CT Duck Stamp purchase. The park then opens to the general public at 8:00am.

 - NB