Monday, September 8, 2008

Thoughts on today's flight

Today's four thousand plus bird flight at Higbee, counted by CMBO's Migration Counter Sam Galick at Morning Flight, is worth some consideration.

First of all, it was predictable, and heavy migration was indeed predicted - see David La Puma's forecast. If you didn't read the forecast last night, a more immediate predictor would have been to go outside to listen in this morning's darkness - Jon Kauffman (CMBO seasonal interpreter), Sam, Michael O'Brien and I all did so and had the same experience - many birds of many kinds calling overhead.

Second, it was wonderfully diverse - Redstarts overshadowed the other warblers, but significant numbers of Northern Parulas & Northern Waterthrushes passed, and several Dendroicas were well represented.

Third, "the end of fall" reared it's head, in my mind at least, in the form of Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers. Still plenty of diversity to come, mind, but besides the ones at the dike I had two Palms chipping along the trail by Bunker Pond at the State Park later in the morning. . .just like October. OK, OK Palms get thick beginning mid-September.

I do wonder if Sam's 64 Yellow Warblers will be the last big push for that species, and think it will. Yellows may be common, but that doesn't mean we don't miss them when they're through, or welcome them when they return from Mexico or points south in April.

Fourth - it was FUN! And fun whether or not one could identify every bird, because the truth is, no one could. The spectacle is enough. If you feel a little intimidated, therefore, don't - and know that an interpretive naturalist is on the Higbee Morning Flight Platform every morning through at least two hours after sunrise, and through October 31, to call out birds and explain the flight.

Meanwhile, back at the hawk watch - two adult Bald Eagles harassed by two Peregrines at mid-morning today was pretty special, as was the Merlin feeding on a dragonfly in flight. Not so special was my second miss of the Frigatebird - the first was the one at Higbee, seen as described by Jason below and also at Morning Flight [shortly after I left], and then, while I was off the hawk watch sawing away some vegetation that the state park graciously allowed us to remove to clear the view from the platform, Dan called out "FRIGATEBIRD!" Gone by the time I got up on the platform and found bins.

Looking to the future, keep an eye on this coming Thursday.

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