Posted by: 3pomjaeger3 | 13 August 2013

12 August: Mephitis!


Three of the seven Magnificent Frigatebirds at sunrise.

No, the title is not about religion.  It’s about something black-and-white.

Today was a hotter, not-as birdy day as compared to yesterday, with the wind out of the south or southwest; light to very light in the morning and brisk in the mid-afternoon — not the best of conditions for southbound migration.  Unless you’re a swallow.  Barn Swallow ruled the day, with a nearly continuous westbound flight past the tower that started before sunrise and kept going after I departed, except for an hour-or-so hiatus in the early afternoon, with the 492 counted probably indicating. 1000 or more passed considering that I am not paid to count swallows.  Cliff Swallow tried to give the Barns a run for their money, but despite a mid-morning surge when the species was the dominant swallow, their finish was execrable; today’s total just 184.  Throw in a smattering of Purple Martins (24), two each of Northern Rough-winged and Cave, and a single Bank Swallow, and you’ve got a six-swallow day, with virtually all swallows following the lead of the Barn Swallows in heading west.

Bird of the Day:  Unfortunately, it/they occurred at my arrival (so the entire day was anti-climactic?) — seven Magnificent Frigatebirds (3 adult and near-adult males, one adult female, one first-year bird, and two of uncertain age and sex) drifted west past the tower on their way to hunting grounds in the Bay north and west of Smith Point.  Interestingly, last night near dusk, I counted 15 frigatebirds coming out of that Bay, presumably to roost for the night on their island out there.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher tally:  71

Other beasts of interest:  Two heard-but-not-seen Upland Sandpipers, with one heard three times as it winged its way south and out over the Bay, but I couldn’t find it!  At least nine Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks — visible from the tower — perched on the wires near the turnoff to the Abshier WMA.  Interestingly, I have not heard the Great Horned Owls during the day on either of my days this season, unlike the situation for the first month or more after my arrival last year, when you couldn’t get them to shut up!

Today’s eBird checklist

Raptors not counted:  The three juvenile Broad-winged Hawks, the two juvenile Cooper’s Hawks, a single juvenile each of Red-shouldered and Red-tailed hawks, and the same adult light-morph Swainson’s Hawk that I saw yesterday.

Raptors counted:  You might know that ‘Mephitis’ is the genus of a black-and-white mammal that, one might say, ate my lunch today.  Here’s for a cloudier tomorrow.


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