Morning Flight, 27-28 September 2016

Let's just forget about yesterday.  It drizzled most of the time and only four birds did anything morning flight-ish.  

But today...  oh today was wonderful.  Songbirds continued to fight the east wind and come pass through the count today, and possibly the oceanic passage proven for Blackpoll Warbler was brought to the shore to give us the highest count of the species thus far for the season with 164.  Blackpoll was the most abundant, followed by Palm Warbler (73) and Northern Parula (46).  The 15 species of warblers also included Northern Waterthrush, Tennessee, Nashville, Cape May, Magnolia, and Pine Warblers.

Other cool birds were goin' on too.  A Brown Thrasher got 4 meters up over the phrags and road and flew more than halfway up the impoundment edge.  A Summer Tanager dove for cover right in front of us watchers.  I was truly not-non-plussed (I think that made-up word means impressed and pleased) to see 4 Dickcissels, in their own flock, call and pass north along the road, just to the west of the Higbee dike.  Most I had ever seen together before was 2. 

List time:

Avalon Seawatch, 28 September 2016

Welcome to the Avalon Seawatch!

     The first week of the Avalon Seawatch was full of great birds, fantastic weather, and wonderfully supportive visitors! The majority of the species counted were Double Crested Cormorants (4,687), Laughing Gulls (2,916), and Black Scoters (420). There were also sightings of Humpback Whales, Dolphins, Jaegers, and Northern Gannets! Altogether, these past few days we have counted almost 10,000 individual birds! Attached below is a summary of todays count for September 28th.

Dark-bellied Brent Goose  2  -  Semipalmated Plover  2  -  Royal Tern  17  -  
Greater / Lesser Scaup  3  -  Sanderling  48  -  Forster's Tern  42  -  
Surf Scoter  3  -  Black Skimmer  4  -  Sterna spec.  5  -  
Black Scoter  90  -  Laughing Gull  206  -  Arctic Skua  1  -  
Great Northern Diver  1  -  Great Black-backed Gull  7  -  Merlin  1  -  
Brown Pelican  1  -  Herring Gull  3  -  Bottle-Nosed Dolphin  12  -  
Gannet  5  -  Lesser Black-backed Gull  2  -    
Double-crested Cormorant  799  -  Caspian Tern  7  -    

Totals: 1261 individuals, 22 species, 35:37 hours

Present: Osprey 3, Turnstone 3, Sanderling 27, Dunlin 3, Laughing Gull 23, Great Black-backed Gull 36, Herring Gull 7, Hirundine sp. 200

Bold = Remarkable observation (scarce or rare species or large number)

     Overall, there has been lots of excitement at the seawatch with over 60 visitors eager to see migrating waterbirds. A big THANK YOU to all who came out this past week! We look forward to seeing you in the weeks to come, sunrise to sunset, at 8th and 9th street beach in Avalon!

Be sure to view our live data page at:

Hawkwatch, 27 September 2016

The day started off with two Eurasian Wigeon in the scope at the same time. Intermittent showers made for an interesting day. Rain put a halt for a good portion of the day's migration and the clear times allowed for songbirds and raptors to move through. Even during the quiet drizzly times swarms of Tree Swallows filled the air!

Eurasian Wigeon

Tree Swallow

Northern Harrier

The day's bird count.

Hawkwatch, 26 September 2016

Sustained south winds persisted from early morning onward. Much of the hawk flight was low and streamlined. It is truly breathtaking to witness how sleekly-built raptors like Merlin and Peregrine Falcon can shear through headwinds with ease.

A juvenile Cooper's Hawk soars in front of a female American Kestrel.

Juvenile Peregrine Falcon. Just look at the vertical streaks in addition to the light blue feet and cere (base of the bill).

Juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Two Eurasian Wigeon were seen within Bunker Pond yesterday. Here is one of them flying alongside two American Wigeon.

The day's bird totals.

Morning Flight, 26 September 2016

The flight-effect of the last 5 days finally slowed down a bit today.  93 Northern Flickers flew at all heights and vectors, casting many interesting looks.  Smaller numbers today also meant lower diversity, but it was the second day in a row with Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (2), and the apparent arrival of new passage migrant mimids: Gray Catbird (6) and Brown Thrasher (5).  The nocturnal migration of these creatures is quite shrouded in mystery compared to most eastern songbirds because they don't call at night during migration and only "do morning flight" through undergrowth, and across smaller open gaps, in punctuated bursts, it seems.

Here's from today:

Hawkwatch, 24-25 September 2016

The past two days have been jam-packed with raptors and songbirds, and we haven't even made it into October! Throughout the fall cool fronts often create sparks of impressive bird migration. Northern Flicker numbers are increasing as this cool front progresses. On Saturday we had an impressive push of Osprey and Great Blue Heron throughout the late evening hours.

Northern Flicker

First-of-the-fall White-crowned Sparrow!

A Palm Warbler checks out the hawkwatching platform.

Merlin nearly catching a Tree Swallow.

Saturday's bird totals.

Sunday's bird totals.

Morning Flight, 25 September 2016

Hip Hop Hooray!  It was another terrific northeast wind flight-day at Morning Flight Project! We're now going on the last 5 days producing significant morning flights with Friday being a little lower in magnitude than the other four mornings.  It's exciting to see so many astounded and enthralled faces new and old up there; a good flight, I think to be, is humbling, memorable, and fun, and a huge flight is just life-changing.

Today was very close in numbers and diversity to these last days (745 northbound warblers of 21 species) and had a decidedly early-October feel given the occurrence of a few species to indicate this like: 1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker,1 Brown Creeper, 7 American Pipit, 4 Purple Finch, and 1 Rusty Blackbird. 

60 total landbird species were counted throughout the morning, just like both an Alder Fly and a new one, White-throated Sparrow shot through the walnuts and over the phragmites with just a few minutes before the close of the 4th hour, and when very little avian life was present, let alone showing signs of continued migratory behavior for most of that period.

North-swooping Northern Flickers stole some of the show to the order of 223 of them. Ten Red-bellied Woodpeckers jazzed it up, and I'm out of cliché descriptors by the time we add an adult-type Red-headed Woodpecker, a "Yellow-shafted" Flicker that had red-orange chromatic abnormality in the center of the flight feathers, 37 Red-breasted Nuthatches, and 20 Red-eyed Vireos.  

The southbound birds entered on today's count likely represent individuals that turned around after reaching the north edge of the dike impoundment or beyond (except Blue Jay, Fish Crow, European Starling, and the blackbirds, to the south).

Warblers were quick, often direct, and half in shade and half in full light, which experiencially pulsed from extremely challenging to outstandingly delightful.  50 Blackpoll, 220 Palm, 23 Cape May, 17 Black-and-white Warblers, 122 Northern Parula, 55 American Redstart, and 17 Northern Waterthrush, were the majority of the flight I detected, along with 178 warbler sp. 

Here's a list: