Monday, May 18, 2009

Migration Forecast May 19 - 21

Yesterday morning (Sunday May 17), with much cooler temperatures and winds out of the north, migrants were still present in good variety and fair numbers at the migrant traps along the Lake Erie shoreline. Of course, with the wind shift, they were not quite as concentrated along the north edge of the woods as they had been on Saturday, so they weren’t quite as convenient for photography along the edge of the parking lot at Magee Marsh. But there was plenty of variety to be found inside the woods.

Sunday’s highlight was the Kirtland’s Warbler found by Andy Johnson and then relocated twice by guides from Tropical Birding and shown to at least a hundred lucky birders. So far today (Monday May 18, about 11 a.m.) the bird has not been refound. See previous post for more info.

A high-pressure system over us now is moving toward to east more slowly than expected, so as of late morning Monday the winds are still light out of the north. Numbers of birds are still decent although not exceptional in the migrant traps along the lake shore.

After the high passes us and moves east, the winds are supposed to shift to southeast sometime late Monday afternoon and then southerly for the rest of the evening and night. Based on current weather forecasts, I think that Tuesday, May 19, could have a very good arrival of birds. After that the picture is less certain, because the forecast calls for rapidly changing wind directions overnight Tuesday night, so it’s hard to say what the birding will be like on Wednesday (aside from warm, relatively calm and pleasant conditions). Thursday, though, has good potential, after southerly winds Wednesday night.

Good flights at this time of month should include an excellent variety of warblers, with Wilson’s, Mourning, and Canada becoming more numerous, and Connecticut Warbler becoming more likely as we get closer to May 25th. Flycatchers are increasing in numbers and variety: Yellow-bellied showed up in good numbers for the first time on Saturday May 16, and there will be more of them through the end of the month, along with lots of Alder and Willow Flycatchers and a few Olive-sided Flycatchers. Swainson’s Thrush will continue to be numerous, and Gray-cheeked Thrush will be easier to find now in the latter part of May. Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoos put in their best showing in late May, and this is also a good time for uncommon migrants like Philadelphia Vireo.

At this point I can’t predict what’s going to happen the weekend of May 23-24. It’s well within the migration timing for all the birds mentioned in the paragraph above, but at the moment I’m getting contradictory weather predictions for Friday and the weekend so it’s too soon to tell what the numbers of birds will be like. Still, if weekends are your only available birding times, and if you’re after Connecticut Warbler, the next two weekends would be your best possibilities of the year.

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