Posted by: jasonbojczyk | 13 August 2014

Surprises After the Storm

Today’s Count: 5

Swallow-tailed Kite-3

Mississippi Kite-1

Broad-winged Hawk-1

Additional Raptors Seen:

Black Vulture-6

Turkey Vulture-4

Cooper’s Hawk-1

Red-shouldered Hawk-1

Swainson’s Hawk-2

Today started off with NNE winds and I thought we were going to have some decent raptor activity along with a nice morning flight.  I was wrong on both accounts.  The best action was in the mottes by the tower with a Least Flycatcher, half a dozen other empids, a Great Crested Flycatcher, a few Eastern Kingbirds, a few Yellow Warblers, some Gnatcatchers, some Dickcissels, at least 20 Orchard Orioles, and the 100th species seen from the tower this season…a Yellow-breasted Chat.  As a reminder this cumulative list is ongoing in the 2014 Bird Species…page.  

Orchard Oriole

Orchard Oriole

Eastern Kingbird

Eastern Kingbird

Back to raptors just a Broad-winged was tallied during the first 4 hours.  However, a few Swainson’s made some really nice passes over the tower.

Swainson's Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson's Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk

Other than that swallows weren’t really moving today and neither were Gnatcatchers.  White Ibis, on the other hand, were!  In the first 4 hours a bit over 1,000 were tallied.  Four hours keeps getting mentioned because that’s when the rain hit and it hit hard for the next 3 hours.  A cell just developed over Smith Point and got worse over the next 2 hours.  So, where to go?  Robbins Park, of course!  Shorebirds were dropping in, including 4 Sanderlings, a few Least, and 8 Semipalmated Plovers.  That was about all I could detect in the next 40 minutes. With a brief break during the rain I quickly left so I’d have a road to travel on!  When the rain started dying down I checked the pond by Jeri’s and saw that the water level had indeed risen, reducing some shorebird habitat.  Not much was there so it was back to Robbins Park where the field had now flooded decently, providing new shorebird habitat.  Three Black-bellied Plovers were the most interesting thing there.  At the boat launch were hundreds of gulls and terns.  Five tern species were in the same binocular view and 4 of them are here:

Sandwich, Common, Least, and Black Terns

Sandwich, Common, Least, and Black Terns

Least Tern

Least Tern

As the rain was finally coming to an end I headed on over to the tower to finish off the last hour and 10 minutes.  I definitely didn’t expect any raptors but not 10 minutes in…

One of 3 Swallow-tailed Kites that came together way in the air

One of 3 Swallow-tailed Kites that came together way in the air

I couldn’t believe it.  Heavy rains and relatively late in the day.  Why would Swallow-taileds migrate now?  I later found out as I took the weather measurements.  Not only was there no wind, but the temperature had dropped from 34 degrees Celsius at ~12:00 to 27 degrees Celsius at 2:50 (a 13 degree Fahrenheit drop)!!!  I guess I must be so burnt from yesterday that I didn’t even notice!  Swallows made a small push, mainly of Purple Martins, but White Ibis were the main event.  They came pouring through and the day ended with over 2,600 White Ibis!  This included the single largest flock that I’ve ever seen of them, with at least 410 birds!  Unfortunately, I got on that flock late as they were well over the bay.

One of many White Ibis flocks today

One of many White Ibis flocks today

This Mississippi Kite passed by shortly after the Swallow-taileds

This Mississippi Kite passed by shortly after the Swallow-taileds

White Ibis died fairly quickly after the count but I went back to Robbins Park in the evening to see if there would be an evening flight.  Hardly any waterbird movement at all, but an additional 24 White Ibis did head out over the bay.  

Tomorrow’s forecast has a variable wind direction.  Who knows what it’ll bring.

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

Brown Pelican Sunset

Brown Pelican Sunset

 

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