Four and Twenty Blackbirds

After a fog filled Monday, Tuesday brought a wind shift and much better migration conditions, even if it took a while to finally get some sunshine.  Today’s longshore flight for the ides of March brought another early season excellent flight of 17,600 birds, comprising 68 species.  The showcase for today was a very good blackbird flight, consisting of mainly red-wings, but also a few grackles and rusties mixed in.

The open water long shore flight was light today.  Ducks were in low numbers, however White-winged Scoters showed off with many birds feeding in the near shore.  They seemed un-distrubed by the morning hikers on the beach that many duck species would have swam away from at their proximity.  The season’s first Common Loons also made an appearance today on the water.

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Counting scenery today.  Not a bad place to watch birds. 

At dawn, blackbirds began a west to east movement. This is counter to most flights of east to west.  No doubt the easterly-southeasterly winds played a role in this, as most birds tend to fly into the prevailing wind for lift.  Blackbirds traveled directly overhead, with many flocks  being clicked off to our south.  Many robins were mixed in too.  Red-winged Blackbirds posted 9,871 birds, while the robins amassed 3,441 today.   Today’s robin count is the highest of the season and sits roughly #8 in all time dunes area counts.  Yet, nowwhere near the 15,000+ day logged last year.

After all the thick cloud cover, the sun finally peeked around 11am and brought warming temperatures.  The season’s real first hawk flight took shape.  Over 100 birds of prey flew past the tower in the second portion of the count.  Red-tailed Hawks dominated, as usual, with 47 seen.  Turkey Vultures (16), American Kestrels (16), and Sharp-shinned Hawks (14) were next.  Moving with the raptors were an additional 2,555 cranes.  For the season, 36,240 cranes have flown past the dunes longshore tower survey area!

Other highlights include 133 Killdeer, a flying woodcock,  a singing Carolina Wren (never common in thedunes) and the season’s first Purple Martin.  The season now stands at 93 species.  For today’s full list visit here.





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