Sunday, April 24, 2011

Impressive morning songbird flight

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Hot on the heels of a strong falcon flight last Wednesday, today's push of warm Easter weather brought another slew of migrants to Sandy Hook. I had a feeling it could be good, so I went to the observation deck at 7 AM - well before the normal start of the count.

I was glad I did, for those first few hours I saw many, many hundreds of birds fly past the platform. Three species made up the majority of the flight: Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, White-throated Sparrow, and Yellow-rumped Warbler. Gnatcatchers were particularly numerous - far too many to count: I estimated between 500 and 1,000 flew past the platform those first few hours. Many landed in the tree directly behind the platform, some even on the observation deck itself. They were a constant stream, all heading NNW.

White-throated Sparrow
Hundreds of Yellow-rumped Warblers flew by, as did hundreds of White-throated Sparrow. (After the count, during a little 'fun birding' I found several large groups of them scratching through the leaves, with a few White-crowned Sparrows mixed in.)

adult male White-breasted Nuthatch
Nuthatch migration was again evident, with 28 White-breasted and 3 Red-breasted Nuthatches flying past the count site.

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Birders that came up to the platform later all had happy smiles on their faces, as they listed all the first arrivals they had found that morning. Besides Yellow-rumped and Palm, I had Ovenbird, Blue-winged Warbler and Black-and-white Warbler, all near the observation deck. Others had found Nashville, Black-throated Green, and Prairie Warblers, as well as Summer Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and many other migrants.

Will all those birds be here again tomorrow? A locally well-known birder often says that "the first thing birds want to do when they get on the Hook, is leave". And, with the exception perhaps of some hawks, this has also been my impression. Often they're here today, gone tomorrow.

It looks like the next big wave of migrants can already be expected Tuesday.


dAwN said...

A Great day of birding..Happy Spring!

Carolyn H said...

Here at my cabin, I had a foggy morning with a gnatcatcher and both ruby- and golden-crowned kinglets in the same tree! That was pretty exciting. Still not much for the other warblers, though.

Carolyn H.