Monday, May 4, 2009

Migration forecast May 4 - 12

Right now (Monday May 4) in the Magee / Crane Creek region we have a great variety of migrants, although not huge numbers, and the warblers and other forest songbirds are spread through all the area’s woodlots, not just concentrated along the immediate lake shore. Birders are finding good concentrations of migrants even in forest patches several miles south of the lake. The key to variety right now is to check a variety of spots rather than just concentrating on the Magee boardwalk or any other single hotspot.

A high-pressure center is passing to the north of us, and northerly winds have shifted to easterly winds which will probably continue Tuesday May 5, but by Wednesday May 6 there should be a good flow of air from the south. On that basis, I expect a good arrival of birds on Thursday May 7. There may be a lot of rain in areas to the south of us on Wednesday night, which could limit the number of birds coming from a long distance, so Thursday probably won’t be a massive fallout, but it could be pretty good.

Some more migrants will probably show up Friday morning, but it’s uncertain what will happen later on Friday. The forecast is for a low-pressure center to pass right over this area sometime Friday night. Depending on the timing of this, and the location of associated rain showers (if it happens at all -- the weather prediction could change a lot before then) we could have a really major fallout of migrants on Saturday May 9 or we could have relatively few. Regardless, Saturday should be a good day for birding, with moderate temperatures and not too windy. Sunday is likely to have most of the same birds as Saturday, although perhaps in smaller numbers, as northwest winds overnight will probably keep most of these birds in place.

Looking farther ahead, current weather predictions lead me to guess that we could have another major arrival of birds on Monday May 11 or especially on Tuesday May 12, but of course the weather forecast that far out is prone to revision! We’ll have to wait and see how the forecast changes. But there’s a possibility that the 11th or 12th could be very good days.

Visitors to the area should be aware that the hotspots near the Lake Erie shoreline will have good numbers of birds literally every day from now through the end of May. In spring, these spots are not totally dependent on fallout conditions, as some migrant traps are; birds moving north will pause at the lake shore, so even on a "bad" day in May there will be a lot of birds around. People who have seen the Magee boardwalk on a fabulous day may be disappointed when it’s only moderately good, but still, even on a poor day, we can see more migrant warblers here than we could at most places on the continent.

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