Morning Flight, 15 October 2016

A Gray-cheeked Thrush torpedoed toward dawn with just enough torque to allow a fine look at its extremely long fuselage.

High, southward songbirds led the pre-dawn charge against the light of the eastern sky. Warblers, appearing mostly to be Yellow-rumpeds, sped south in a very loose, continuous stream for the first 20 minutes after the dawn.  Tree Swallows clicked-in ten minutes into the liquidy flow. Multitudes more tiny passerine specks, out of count range, could be discerned with the greatest of vaguety off toward the daylight.  Meanwhile, low-creeping kinglets and crowd-surfing Blackpolls swooned the western crowd of watchers.  I thought the morning could creep up to be a distressing task of worrying about many missed glimpses, as a large, speedy, insidious mid-October flight can be like.  But the low winds and pleasant avian groupings lived up to a mellow and super-take-in-able songbird flight viewing experience, and the flight passage was half of yesterday's when the western-aspect cold front seemed to get influenced by oceanic easterlies for largely coastal movement.

Given the report from Cape May's own, Derek Lovitch (of Sandy Point, Maine, Morning Flight fame) from Coral Ave and the dune this morning, the continued southerly surge of birds on into the day, without stopping, could have sourced the 'over 4,000 songbirds counted there, with 60-70% Yellow-rumped Warbler' that later fed the supply of birds that had appeared for the northward flight a few miles north at Higbee and the Cape May Canal. It's really valuable data for the Morning Flight Project in comparing multiple site's results. And it's really cool!  Thanks to Michael O'Brien, Don Freiday, Tom Reed, Michael Lanzone, Erik Brunhke, Meaghan Lyon, Doug Gochfeld (of Coney Island Creek Park, Brooklyn, Morning Flight fame), and any others I might be omitting, for keeping some records of what's been happening around the Cape May peninsula this season.  

Anyone remember yesterday when I texted out to the 'CMBO birds' WhatApp group that 4 Northern Cardinals were in the marsh in Wildwood Crest? They were all juveniles, appearing pretty male-ish and were flying and landing well into the marsh and along its brushy edge.  Today continued the trend of putative morning flight low-fliers-- the hay bale stompers at the idea of what a "morning-flighting-bird-species/population is and what conformities it possesses.  A Tufted Titmouse got counted today as did an Eastern Towhee, like yesterday.  These species are also present as breeders, the towhee also breeds and very sparsely winters-- so how does the significance of perceived Morning Flight behavior shape the whole equation?  More sources of data like the aforementioned coordinated counts, tracking and telemetry capabilities, nocturnal acoustic sampling, radar, and weather correlation analysis are on the horizon for all who bird and the links we will continue to make with migration will attempt to further enlighten a global perspective on migratory bird biology. 

White-breasted Nuthatch, Blue-headed Vireo, Pine Siskin, Vesper Sparrow,--- these are the birds of a lifetime birding with my best man Dave Hedeen. The two of us stood and enumerated 3,667 landbirds, of which 2,298 were warblers of 12 species.  The experience of trying to detect and recognize every bird you possibly can is one of growth.  It's all about the bird.  Experiencing a flight such that occurs at Higbee Beach, or any possible vista for flight, over and over, is one way to encounter many ways of perceiving the freewheeling birds that flew through our secerning of captivations.  All is Zen.

A SHaKin' iT uP BiG sHouT OuT to Tom & Amy !!!


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