Let's cut to the chase with the weather forecast from the National Weather Service: A COLD FRONT IS MAKING ITS WAY ACROSS WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA THIS AFTERNOON. THE FRONT WILL CONTINUE TO TRACK TO THE EAST AND PASS OFF THE MID-ATLANTIC COAST LATE TONIGHT. HIGH PRESSURE WILL BEGIN TO BUILD BACK ACROSS THE REGION TOMORROW AND THEN PERSIST ACROSS THE REGION THROUGH LATE MONDAY OR TUESDAY.
It sounds like the front will pass too late in the night to precipitate a nocturnal flight of landbirds, other than a few birds like thrushes that sometimes take off when the front passes and actually migrate past it, but Saturday, especially in the afternoon, should bring a strong raptor migration, and Sunday will be smoking! It's a pretty sure bet there will be a major nocturnal migration Saturday night, and commensurate strong morning flight of passerines on Sunday, followed by many, many raptors. That's for here in Cape May, but it will be good everywhere, and there will be lows in the 50's Saturday night, probably the 40's north of here, so it will finally feel like fall.
In other news. . . Hilary Cresko, our Sea Watch interpretive naturalist, reports her week's highlight was a Humpback Whale on Thursday. The hawk flight has been light, thanks to the weather, but a Cooper's Hawk (perhaps the same bird, perhaps more than one) has been diligently and dutifully trying to reduce the House Sparrow population in front of the platform.
The sea watch had several days of over 10,000 birds this week. Scanning Ken Behren's and Chris Brown's reports I find things like 14 Parasitic Jaegers on the 18th, Great Cormorants every day since the 13th, and a noticeable exodus of Laughing Gulls. Yellow-rumpeds are cracking the 1,000 mark pretty much every day at Morning Flight, morning flight counter Sam Galick reports. These and the laughers signal the beginning of the end. . . but it's a long way from over. We hold The Bird Show at the end of October for a reason!
My most interesting observation of late occurred at 8:00 p.m., in full dark, two nights ago when several flocks of Green-winged Teal flew past the jetty I was fishing from near Avalon. Michael O'Brien had a life nocturnal flight call (remember, this is the guy who produced the flight call cd with Bill Evans) with an osprey this week, which passed over in the pre-dawn hours. More birds migrate in the dark than we appreciate. Where, for example, do the hordes of Sharp-shinned Hawks that appear in Cape May (after a front) before sunrise come from? They must come from birds that began migrating at night, musn't they?