Moving the Sails of Migration

South winds roared once again overnight to provide yet another movement of birds today, March 16.  Late night storms rolled through and aside from a quick downpour, the skies were clear of precipitation.  By dawn gusts of 25 mph were being felt as the winds pointed more westerly than southerly. This morning’s counters took shelter on the old viewing deck of the staircase, rather than risk having scopes go flying off the tower.  Despite the winds, birds were booking it across the sky and were of course… counted.

As can be viewed in the photo above, the morning view was glorious.  Nature’s paintbrush was evident as layers of clouds stacked on each other, providing occasional peeks of sunlight.  When the sun did blaze, dabblers of all kinds were being identified on the lake at large distances. Shovelor green heads were shining brighter than any leprechauns outfit.  Dabblers no doubt, as it was a great morning for puddle ducks to migrate.  Streams of shovelors, teal, wigeons, and gadwalls went by, going east to west.  24 species of waterfowl were logged today (including cormorant).  Highlights, aside from dabblers was a single stunning male Long-tailed Duck who came in from the east and plopped down right in front of the counters.  It’s tail streamers were obvious as it landed.  Just before a picture could be taken, it took off again and moved west.  30 minutes later, a Red-necked Grebe did the same thing!

Passerines did move, but were much lighter from yesterday.  Blackbirds, Grackles, and Robins dominated most of the birds.  But of note was a hint of the upcoming flicker flights.  8 Northern Flickers flew past.  They’re usual peak flights happen around April 2, but in 2012, we had great numbers between March 17-23. Will we see an early flight again this year?

For the day just over 2,500 birds, from 53 species flew past.  Click the ebird checklist to see the complete list.

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