Monday, May 17, 2010

Update 5/17; next wave 5/21-5/22?

Monday, May 17: Strong north winds for the last couple of nights seem to have shut down the migration temporarily. At the BSBO main banding station today, a high percentage of the migrants encountered were recaptures from previous days, so birds seem to be staging in the area and waiting for the weather and winds to change. Birders who were out on the trails of Magee Marsh and Ottawa NWR today did manage to find a fair diversity of migrants, including Mourning Warblers lurking in the undergrowth, but wind and rain put a damper on the action during the latter part of the afternoon.

It doesn't appear that Tuesday May 18 will be a good day for birding -- the weather forecast calls for more rain and more north winds. Wednesday the 19th should be more pleasant, as a high-pressure system should pass just to the north of us. The winds won't be right for more migrants to show up on Wednesday. Perhaps this would be a fine day for looking at local nesting birds out at Oak Openings, checking for shorebirds on the Ottawa NWR entrance pool or in the Stange Rd - Krause Rd area, or enjoying the Black Terns and other wetland birds at Metzger Marsh.

Sometime after Wednesday, however, the winds will shift and we'll have another big arrival of birds. I just talked to Mark Shieldcastle, Research Director at BSBO, and he's been looking at the long-term forecast also. We can't tell for sure when the wind is going to change. If the fronts accelerate, we might have south winds Wednesday night and a decent flight on Thursday, but at this point it looks more likely that Friday and Saturday will be the big days -- May 21 and 22. This weekend should be a good time for seeing sought-after flycatchers like Olive-sided, Yellow-bellied, and Alder, and numbers of some of the other late-spring migrants like Red-eyed Vireo and Mourning, Canada, and Wilson's warblers. The next two weeks represent the best time of year to find the elusive Connecticut Warbler, and with favorable flight conditions this coming weekend, we're almost sure to have a few found in this area. I'll keep watching the weather and will try to update the prediction as we get more information.

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