Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Migration outlook April 18-22

Almost record-early for northwest Ohio, this male Scarlet Tanager entertained many birders at the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area boardwalk on April 16 and 17. Photo by Kenn Kaufman.

April 17: This past weekend developed about as predicted, with a moderate arrival of migrants on Saturday morning, bigger numbers Sunday morning, and an excellent hawk flight on Sunday afternoon.  Fierce west winds on Monday were discouraging to birders, at least, but some new migrants were found; late in the day, Ethan Kistler and John Sawvel found several surprising birds along the Magee boardwalk, including White-eyed Vireo, Louisiana Waterthrush, and a near-record-early Scarlet Tanager. 

At this stage the migrants seem to be mostly on a normal schedule, with large numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers, White-throated Sparrows, Hermit Thrushes, and others present, and fair numbers of other early migrants such as Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Rusty Blackbirds.  A few species seem to have moved through / moved out early (for example, Golden-crowned Kinglets already seem to be all but gone) and a few individual birds are showing up surprisingly early.  The BSBO main banding station, a few miles east of the Magee boardwalk, had a Blackburnian Warbler on April 16 (record-early for n.w. Ohio by one day), and over the weekend single Hooded Warblers were found both there and at Magee.  In other words, there are plenty of potential surprises for birders who are willing to get out and prowl the trails.

Looking ahead: Tonight (Tuesday night), breezes are light and variable and partly from the north, and I don't expect much turnover before Wednesday.  From Wednesday morning through Friday afternoon, the prediction is for the winds to be more or less southerly, with this flow becoming stronger and more associated with larger weather systems toward Thursday night.  Sometime late Friday, according to current forecasts, the wind will swing around to the north, ushering in much cooler temperatures for the weekend. 

Birding prediction:  In the migrant traps near Lake Erie, I don't expect many new migrants on Wednesday April 18, but new arrivals should come in on the mornings of Thursday and Friday, April 19 and 20.  There could be a fair hawk flight on Thursday or Friday, or both, with warm afternoons and southwest winds.  The migation will shut down Friday night, so there won't be many new birds on Saturday and Sunday, April 21 and 22, but most of the birds present late in the week should stick around.  The weekend's high temperatures are forecast to be in the 40s and low 50s, but there shouldn't be much rain, and it would be a good time to get out and enjoy the early-season migrants.

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