Posted by: 3pomjaeger3 | 15 August 2013

15 August: Empie extravaganza!

ImageOne of who-knows-how-many Empidonax at the Abshier WMA today in, as they often were, a rattlebox.

Ah, those lovely gems so beloved of ABA-area birders, today saw a big hit of Empidonax flycatchers, with four species identified from the tower.  Bare minima of the four species detected were five Alder and singles of Willow, Least, and Yellow-bellied.  There were, however, many more, as there was a lot of arguments between and among empies over whose rattlebox (Crotolaria) or part of an oak this was.  The Alders were really squabbling vocally, with many songs and near-songs given as get-your-butt-out-of-my-space statements.  After I left the tower, my yard in town also supported large numbers, and I tallied three Alders, two Willows, two Yellow-bellieds, and one Least (and a couple Empidonax sp.).  Also in the yard were females of Hooded and Black-and-white warblers and a Common Yellowthroat.  Other flycatchers near the tower included two Olive-sided Flycatchers found shortly after sunrise and a Great Crested Flycatcher.

wifl-smithpoint-8-15-13-tl-01-cropscreen-lowresWillow Flycatcher is rarer here than is Alder, so this was an enjoyable find very early this morning.  I saw it well enough to ID, but once Joe got to the tower, we heard it calling a few times and then it nearly took Joe’s head off when Joe was trying to confirm it by luring it in with tape.

osfl-smithpoint-8-15-13-tl-01-cropscreen-lowresosfl-smithpoint-8-15-13-tl-02-cropscreen-lowresTwo views of the Olive-sided Flycatcher that called the oak just to the NE of the tower home today, the lower picture showing one of his fancy white tufts.

So, other than the complete lack of a hawk flight, I thoroughly enjoyed the day.  Joe Kennedy was present for much of the day, as was one of my compadres of last fall, Marvin.  With all the rain around us and, sometimes, falling on us, there was just no chance for a hawk flight to develop.  Of course, after I left the tower at 2:45 when it started raining again, it was blue-sky lovely by 4:30.  Single non-migrant Cooper’s, Broad-winged, and Swainson’s hawks were the only non-vulture raptors seen during the flycatcher, er… hawk count.

Waterbird highlights included 19 more Tricolored Herons, 651 White Ibis (333 adults), and two Solitary Sandpipers.  However…

Bird of the Day:  This one was a no-brainer.  Upland Sandpipers were going over calling before sunrise and they never really quit.  As is typical for migrating Uppies, I heard many, many more than I saw (so learn that call —!  I managed to find Uppies just six times:  a single and flocks of 6, 6, 8, 8, and 9 for 36 Upland Sandpipers seen.  Unfortunately, I heard Uppies 36 more times!!  I had to record those unseen birds as being all singles, but, considering that only one of the ‘flocks’ that I saw was a single bird, there were many, many more Uplands than I counted.

upsa-smithpoint-8-15-13-tl-01-cropscreen-lowresThree of one of the flocks of six Upland Sandpipers belting over the tower this morning.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher tally:  48

Today’s eBird checklist


Orchard Orioles were also much in evidence today, after a week of no more than six a day — 51 today.  Like the empies, they also enjoyed the rattlebox.


In mid-afternoon, it became apparent that a huge influx of gliders (Pantala) was resulting from the rain and cold-front passage.  These Wandering Gliders (Pantala flavescens) were stacked nearly like cord wood in the southwest corner of the parking lot at the very beginning of the phenomenon.  But, even this paled to the spectacle that I witnessed later in the afternoon when the skies cleared.  On my drive down Hawkins Camp Road to the Point, I literally saw HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of gliders (about 2/3 Wandering, 1/3 Spot-winged [Pantala hymenaea]) all heading west down the point


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