Friday, August 12, 2011

Right on time

Our first Higbee's Beach walk of the season was timed to perfection as the first noteworthy cold front from the north-west saw my thermometer reading a mere 59F first thing this morninig. That might not sound so cold, but it's a significant drop from the 90+ temperatures we've had of late. And with the front, came the birds. Actually some of us speculated on the front over a great meal and a few beers overlooking the harbor last night; most were hopping with excitement but the sagely Tony Leukering noted "It will be good, but good for August 12th". And of course he was right; it is still early in the season and too early for a major flight, but there was much get excited about and the parking lot was pretty full by 07:00 this morning. The expected flight of Red-winged Blackbirds and near-invisible "link"ing Bobolinks passed overhead, along with an assortment of herons, which for us included two Tricolored and three Little Blue Herons. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Cedar Waxwings and assorted warblers flighted over and the annual gathering of Eastern Kingbirds had started, with at least 35 noted. Warblers in the trees were not numerous but included several very showy Blue-winged Warblers (I heard of at least nine being seen) and a scattering of American Redstarts, Yellow and Black-and-white Warblers and a single Chestnut-sided Warbler. Chris Vogel reported two Canada Warblers to me.

Those tricky Empidonax flycatchers are starting to arrive too and we managed to pick out one Alder and two Least Flycatchers, while others added an Acadian to the list. We finished our walk with a fly-over Common Nighthawk and others added Yellow-billed Cuckoo to the list too. A few Blue Grosbeaks, Red-eyed Vireos and assorted breeding birds such as Prairie Warbler and White-eyed Vireo all added to the mix.

Elsewhere, Sam Gallick and Tom Reed found a Yellow-rumped Warbler - usually the species that signals the end of fall - let's hope not! At the Northwood Center, Blackburnian Warbler and Alder Flycatcher were found, but at the state park, there was no sign of yesterday evening's American Avocet. At the top end of the county, Karen Johnson reported Mourning, Yellow-throated and Worm-eating Warblers at her backyard mister - it's a different world up there!

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