Friday, April 4, 2008

Delayed Migration -- catch-up time

As recently as four days ago (March 31), the migration appeared to be seriously behind normal schedule in our area, with many of the typical early spring arrivals either absent or in low numbers. This week the weather and wind direction have changed multiple times, but there has been enough of a strong southerly wind flow (and warm temperatures) to help bring in a lot of birds and help us catch up to a considerable degree.

The last few days, from what I saw and heard about, brought in numbers of Fox Sparrows and Hermit Thrushes and a smattering of others like Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Brown Thrasher, and Golden-crowned Kinglet. A Louisiana Waterthrush was reported, apparently in the woods near the Sportsmen's Migratory Bird Center on the road in to Crane Creek / Magee Marsh.

This weekend (April 4-6) ought to be excellent for enjoying good numbers of early migrants. The forecast now calls for SW winds on Saturday, SE winds Saturday night, and ESE winds Sunday. If that prediction holds, there should be a decent hawk flight on Saturday and the number of land bird migrants present should be good on Saturday, better on Sunday. This is still a good time to see lots of Rusty Blackbirds and there are still a lot of waterfowl in area marshes like Magee and Metzger.

This early in the spring, temperatures along the immediate lakeshore may be colder than they are just half a mile inland. If you check woodlots on the shoreline and don't find good numbers of migrants there, try going to the next woods southward. On the Crane Creek / Magee road, for example, the woods along the boardwalk might not have as many birds as the woods along the walking trail near the Sportsmen's Center. That pattern will change from day to day and it will be reversed in a few weeks, but it's a possibility to keep in mind for now.

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