Morning Flight - Saturday, August 24, 2019

Riding off the excitement of yesterday's flight, I was hoping for another big flight this morning. While overall numbers were down from yesterday, diversity was fantastic! Once again the flight was dominated by American Redstarts, which contributed 275 individuals to our overall total. Yellow Warblers were also fairly numerous with 56 northbound, and a handful of Northern Waterthrush and Black-and-White Warblers rounded out the more common Warbler migrants. We had a few notable single birds as well, including Canada (our 3rd of the season; a nice change from 2018 which had none), Prothonotary and Blue-winged Warbler.

Our third Canada Warbler of the season! Photo by Daniel Irons

We had a handful of new arrivals today, including our first of season Baltimore Orioles and Scarlet Tanager. A couple Red-eyed Vireos dipped across the gap, and some Empidonax flycatchers gave brief views as they darted through the Phragmites on the Dike. Slightly more notable were three Great Crested Flycatchers. This species is scarce as an active migrant past the dike, and most years only get two or three. This morning was another good day for Gnatcatchers, with 65 total. We're well over 350 of these little blue puffballs for the season, it'll be interesting to see how many we end up with in September.

Baltimore Orioles made their first appearance this morning. Photo by Daniel Irons
Rounding out the count today were Eastern Kingbird and Bobolink, both showing up in numbers once again. Massive swarms of Kingbirds can be a challenge to count, but there's nothing quite like watching hundreds of them swirl over the trees to the south. Numbers today were similar to yesterday, with about 180 total kingbirds. Bobolinks were less numerous than yesterday but still showed up, with about 50 total northbound birds.

Eastern Kingbirds put on quite a show this morning! Photo by Daniel Irons

Tomorrow is looking like another solid day, with more northerly winds and a fantastic radar setup already.

See you in the field!

Jerald Reb

Morning Flight - Friday, August 23, 2019

Once again, I must apologize for the lack of recent posts; the past week has been very quiet, with nothing notable to blog about. The tide is shifting now though, with a fresh cold front rolling in tonight, so here's hoping for plenty of busy mornings to come!

Winds were somewhat northerly last night, though a bit more out of the east than I would have liked. The potential existed for a decent flight, but I wasn't sure if the birds would follow through. Fortunately they did, and today was the best morning of the season so far! The first half hour was relatively slow, with just a handful of Yellow Warblers and Northern Waterthrush, but things kicked into high gear about twenty minutes after sunrise. A calling Upland Sandpiper flew by at close range around 6:45, and the Warblers weren't far behind!

Over the course of the morning we counted over 650 northbound American Redstarts, with some striking adult males mixed in among the more subtly beautiful female types. While Redstarts were the stars of the show for sure, Yellow Warblers also showed up with a total of 46 counted. Mixed in with the big two species were a few less common Warblers, the most notable being singles of Worm-eating (our third for the season) and Canada.

Diurnal migrants are moving through in large numbers now, and we had flocks of both Eastern Kingbird and Bobolink numbering in the hundreds. The Warblers will always be my favorite morning flight species, but there's nothing quite like the spectacle of a Kingbird flock swarming over the forest!

More north winds are forecast tonight, this time with a solid cold front. Looking forward to another hopefully fantastic morning tomorrow!

See you in the field!

Jerald Reb

Morning Flight - Monday, August 12, 2019

Hi all! Sorry for the lack of updates recently; we had a couple quiet days and then I was out of commission over the weekend due to a sprained ankle (major thanks to our amazing count coordinator, Tom Reed, for filling in for me during that time!).

This morning started out pleasantly cool and calm, but unfortunately no winds = no birds so the count period was pretty quiet. A couple Northern Waterthrush and American Redstart, along with a single Yellow Warbler, comprised the entirety of this morning's Warbler flight. Singles of Eastern Kingbird and Orchard Oriole rounded out the passerines.

The Delaware Bay featured a bit of activity this morning, with several hundred Laughing Gulls visible through the gap at all times. Mixed in with this flock were all of the more common Tern species, and a single Black Tern was certainly the highlight of the morning! Another highlight came in the form of sixteen Brown Pelicans, which flew in circles for a bit before departing to the north.

I suspect that tomorrow will be another quiet morning with south winds overnight. Wednesday is looking a bit more promising, after some light NW winds on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning.

See you in the field!

Jerald Reb

Morning Flight - August 3-4, 2019

The past two mornings have featured very little in the way of active migration due to poor winds. Hopefully that will change in the near future, but in the meantime at least we have plenty of Yellow Warblers to keep us company! Their buzzy "zeep" calls are certainly one of the most iconic sounds of early fall migration.

Yellow Warblers are still our most numerous migrant by far

Diversity is slowly increasing; yesterday we added our first Prothonotary Warbler of the season, and American Redstarts are a daily occurrence in small numbers. Both Waterthrushes are also trickling through, but it won't be long now until the floodgates are opened and Northern becomes one of our most common migrants! Bobolink and Eastern Kingbird will also be coming through in much larger numbers in just a few short weeks.

Our first photographed American Redstart of the fall! There's a couple thousand more where that came from!
While migrant songbirds are slowly picking up, there are still plenty of locals to enjoy! This morning a Yellow-billed Cuckoo (certainly one of my favorite birds) sang for a solid ten minutes from the woods below the Dike. Indigo Buntings sing their cheerful songs from seemingly every other reed, and Swallows of various species continue to feed on the plentiful insects. 

Beautiful Indigo Buntings are abundant in the Phrag surrounding the Dike
With south winds predicted for the next few days we'll probably have a few more low-density days before any sort of larger movement, but they're coming for sure! Fingers crossed that the NW winds forecast for next weekend make it through!

See you in the field!

Jerald Reb

Morning Flight - Friday, August 2, 2019

While overall numbers were certainly down from yesterday, a slight increase in diversity made for a fun flight this morning! Our first American Redstarts of the season zipped through the phrag early on; in just a few weeks these sleek little Warblers will be moving through in the thousands! Both species of Waterthrush flew by at several points throughout the morning, providing a fun ID challenge. Louisiana's won't be around for too much longer, so we'll do our best to savor every one! The Yellow Warbler flight from yesterday continued this morning, with a total of 14 northbound birds.

Non-Warbler migrants were few and far between this morning, but several Orchard Orioles made close passes over the phragmites, and singles of Bobolink and Eastern Kingbird made their way on to the count as well. Shorebirds are continuing to hang out in the small pool atop the dike, mostly Semipalmated Sandpipers with a handful of Spotted Sandpiper and Short-billed Dowitchers. Two calling Whimbrels flew up the canal this morning, certainly one of my favorite waders!

You never know what might fly by on these early season days, so come on up to the Dike and try your luck! These low-density mornings offer a great learning experience as well, allowing plenty of time to study baseline species like Yellow Warbler.

See you in the field!

Jerald Reb

Morning Flight - Thursday, August 1, 2019

Hello everyone, and welcome to the Fall 2019 migration count season! It seems strange to be talking about fall while most people are still enjoying their summer vacations, but birds don't subscribe to our views of the seasons and there are plenty of songbirds already winging their way south.

This morning provided evidence of that fact with a solid flight of Yellow Warblers, a fitting way to kick off the season! Over the course of the morning we tallied over fifty of the bright little Warblers as they redirected and flew north, away from the daunting Delaware Bay crossing.

Two of the 50+ Yellow Warblers we counted this morning
While the Yellow Warblers were the undisputed highlight of the morning, there were a few other migrant species sprinkled in in smaller numbers. A lone Northern Waterthrush (a prominent feature in early September mornings) was a nice sign of flights to come. Two Orchard Orioles were fun to see; this species is an early season migrant and will be all but gone by the end of August. We'll certainly try to enjoy them while they last!

Swallows like this Tree Swallow were abundant around the Dike this morning, though most lacked any strong migratory direction
Local birds (AKA future migrants) also put on a show this morning, with dozens of Swallows zipping by. Indigo Buntings are still singing their hearts out from the Phragmites, and American Goldfinches are zooping around in display flights as this is still the middle of their breeding season.
American Goldfinches are still performing display flights on the daily
With one day behind us, we still have an entire season of great things to come! The south winds predicted for the next week may not provide us with any strong movements, but there's always something fun happening on the Dike! You can check out our daily Morning Flight totals on the New Jersey Audubon website at Huge thanks to our sponsors: Swarovski Optik and Actions@EBMF, and thank you to Trektellen for our continued partnership.

See you in the field!

Jerald Reb