Thursday, September 10, 2015

Change in the weather, change in the birds

If you haven't made plans for the weekend yet, you might want to give serious thought to that first pilgrimage of the fall down (or up!) to Cape May. After what seems like an eternity of sweltering beach weather, St Swithin - who must surely be the patron saint of migration students - has visited us and provided us with a day of rain today. Strangely, if you were here, you would see smiles on the faces of the birders in town right now, for there is a fair chance that tomorrow is going to be a day to be at Higbee Beach. Of course, it is all too easy to cry wolf; to give a shout out for Cape May and a fall of migrants every time there is a whiff of Nor-westerly in the air. But the weather chart is looking pretty good. A good-sized cold front (one of those blue, spikey lines on the weather map) headed our way and immediately bumped into a warm front (the red, non-spikey line); the expected result was what is known as an occluded front, where pockets of warm air become separated out from the main air mass, rise aloft and can produce significant rain and thunderstorms.

Generally after such events, a cooler, drier air mass moves in behind - and behind that, the weather chart is showing a second cold front on its way and a significant drop in temperature. So why the smiley birders? Well, these are the events that really kick idle migrant birds up the undertail coverts and get them heading south - and the predominantly north-west movement of air has a habit of sending those birds our way.

So, enough of all the fancy stuff, let's cross fingers and be out at first light tomorrow to see what nature has provided - it's time to head to Higbee's and we will be there for you - join us for a 7AM walk at the Higbee fields. Let's see what we can find!

Bobolinks are common fall migrants through Cape May, but they are typically notorious for being invisible, 'binking' sounds, passing high overhead. But a front can drop them down and the fields at Higbee's are as good a place as any to see these birds before they head for Brazil for the winter [photo by Mike Crewe].

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