Today, Monday, March 20 saw the first good songbird flight of the 2017 longshore flight season. It was a day that wasn’t supposed to have a longshore flight. As has been the case this past two weeks, any south winds have been accompanied by good rains that have essentially shut down any migration. For the first day of spring, mother nature showed two sides. The pre-dawn radar looked dismal. Strong rains covered the south, giving little sign that any nocturnal migration was occurring. The forecast was for rain all morning and into the afternoon. The continued rain would also put a damper on songbirds, leaving wet counters hoping for a few ducks to go by. Compare the radar image with 2 hours later as the sun rose.
Radar images this morning at 5am and then 7am local time.
How quickly the rain moved away, and this new first spring day brought a true spring migration of birds flooding in. All three of our common March migrants, grackles, red-wings, and robins rode in on the south winds in decent numbers. The blackbird movement this morning was strong, yet tame compared to where it could be at this point. Grackles were a large percentage of the flocks streaming by. Robins were mixing in heavily, and using both the east and west pathways versus the more westerly path that most of the blackbirds were traveling. For the day, 11,835 birds were counted, comprising a season high 58 species.
Waterfowl were on the low side, as has been the case this early part of the season. Only 11 species were seen, with a few wigeon, a few pintail, and 9 Red-throated Loons being the most notable.
Birds of prey failed to materialize into any flight, as the promise of sun mid morning quickly closed back up to cloudy conditions, preventing any thermal development. So it’s not surprising that the 34 that were counted were falcon heavy. All three falcons were logged, including 9 American Kestrels. 2 Harriers were also making use of the strong winds today.
The robin count for the day was just under 2,500 birds. Though not a record, or top 10 count, it was still a pretty strong flight, likely the state’s 13th or 14th highest spring count.
New for the season were 8 Tree Swallows and a single Purple Finch flyby. The season total is now at 84 species. For today’s complete list of birds, visit here.