Posted by: jasonbojczyk | 20 August 2014

Unexpected Greatness

Today’s Count: 1

American Kestrel-1

Additional Raptors Seen:

Black Vulture-2

Turkey Vulture-5

Crested Caracara-1

Today’s greatness came in the form of the morning flight.  The entire day was slightly strong to moderately strong southeast winds but the gnatcatchers and swallows didn’t seem to care or at least had the urge to move anyways, not wanting to wait any longer for favorable winds.  While some of the great swallow days so far have been on light winds with a southerly component, most of these strong south wind days have only been producing up to ~500.  Anyways, here’s some numbers from the morning flight:

American Kestrel-1

Greater Yellowlegs-2

Lesser Yellowlegs-1

Yellowlegs Species-10

White-winged Dove-9

Common Nighthawk-3

Ruby-throated Hummingbird-13

Olive-sided Flycatcher-1

Eastern Kingbird-13

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher-2

Bank Swallow-2

Cliff/Cave Swallow-500+

Barn Swallow-800+


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher~405

Yellow Warbler-3


This great flight lasted for 2 hours and consisted of nearly 2,800 birds.  Gnatcatchers probably stole the show, as there were many times with over 20 birds in one ‘group’. The largest ‘group’ of the day consisted of 46 birds.  It’s just amazing to be scanning and you get on one loose group of Gnatcatchers containing 10 or so birds, with swallows streaming by, and then a Kingbird goes by, and then you look at a Yellow Warbler flying over only to see another ‘group’ of 20 or more Gnatcatchers higher in the air, with even more swallows going by, all at the same time!  It’s so exciting, and there are many more diverse and better passerine days ahead!

Eastern Kingbird passing the tower

Eastern Kingbird passing the tower

The other interesting encounter in the morning was the first sign of what appeared to be 4 migrant Common Nighthawks coming together towards the tower when all this action was going on.  It turned out that one of those Nighthawks was actually the lone Kestrel for the day!  It’s amazing how that could’ve easily slipped by, but the wingbeats of the 2 species can be remarkably similar at times.  Blue-gray Gnatcatchers ended with 420 on the day, the best so far at this point in the season.  Swallows continued in small numbers throughout the rest of the count until the very end when over 700 went by in a 10 minute span!  There was then a short interlude after this:

A Magnificent interlude between the swallow show

A Magnificent interlude between the swallow show

After this brief break, another 350+ swallows went by in another 10 minutes, but that pretty much emptied out the tank after that. It was on to the usual Robbins Park after this but yet another unusual barbed-wire fence sighting:

The 2nd unusual barbed-wire fence sighting in 3 days; Black Tern with Laughing Gull

The 2nd unusual barbed-wire fence sighting in 3 days; Black Tern with Laughing Gull

Royal Tern at Robbins Park

Royal Tern at Robbins Park

Tomorrow’s forecast is back to strong winds out of the south.  If the wind switches direction slightly though, maybe it’ll bring another day like today.  They’ve been pretty good with the short and medium forecast recently and hopefully they are with the upcoming forecast for Monday through at least Thursday.  If it’s true, and we can avoid the rain, we should have our best days of migration yet during that time. But you never know what could show up from all of these strong south winds we’ve been having…



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