Posted by: jasonbojczyk | 7 September 2014

Mega Gnatcatcher Day, Huge Dickcissel Day

Yesterday’s Count: 6

Broad-winged Hawk-2

Mississippi Kite-2

Swallow-tailed Kite-2

Additional Raptors Seen:

Black Vulture-6

Turkey Vulture-4

Cooper’s Hawk-1

Swainson’s Hawk-1

Red-tailed Hawk-1

Yesterday had light to non-existent winds and brought a few raptors with it. Given that there was plenty of other coverage for hawks, and my day off, I focused almost my entire time with the Gnatcatcher show. I got up on the tower at sunrise but only 25 Gnatcatchers were seen before 8 am. After 8, they really turned it on. Many times it was impossible to click off the Gnatcatchers and you just simply wrote down a number that went by, looked up, counted, wrote a number down, repeat. A few words were mumbled to myself during this time if you know what I mean. Here’s just one line of Gnatcatcher flocks that I wrote down: 40, 60, 78, 62, 20, 36. It was one of the most amazing spectacles I have ever witnessed. Over 2,200 were tallied between 8 and 9 and then the rain started to hit, just as a heavy drizzle. I stayed out there though, as they were still moving by slowly in the drizzle. The drizzle had me concerned that the show was over, but after it stopped, things opened up again immediately. Over 150 Gnatcacther were in the air at once and this show lasted in amazing numbers for another 2 hours, before winding down to ‘just’ ~500 in the last 4 hours. The day resulted in……..

4,526 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is very likely one of the biggest, if not the biggest, one day, one site documentation of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers ever recorded in North America. This will certainly be the highlight of the season unless Gnatcatchers somehow top this day, or there is an absolute mega rarity. A legendary day.

There were several other highlights as well, including the most Yellowlegs I’ve ever seen actively migrating in flight. A total of 278 Yellowlegs were seen: 29 Greater, 21 Lesser, 228 Yellowleg species ignored due to distance or Gnatcatchers. Other highlights included 78 Anhinga, nearly 500 White Ibis, 31 Plegadis Species, 3 Upland Sandpiper, 49 Black Terns, 7 Black Skimmers, nearly 100 White-winged Doves, 2 Eastern Wood-Pewee, over 3,000 swallows, a Brown Thrasher, 22 Yellow Warblers, a Yellow-breasted Chat, 9 Blue Grosbeaks, 16 Orchard Orioles, and the season’s first 10 Baltimore Orioles.

Mississippi Kite

Mississippi Kite

Shorebirds at Robbins Park later included tho Short-billled Dowitcher and 3 Least Sandpipers

Shorebirds at Robbins Park later included this Short-billled Dowitcher and 3 Least Sandpipers


Today’s Count: 30

Broad-winged Hawk-20

Cooper’s Hawk-3

Mississippi Kite-4

Swallow-tailed Kite-2


Additional Raptors Seen:

Black Vulture-6

Turkey Vulture-4


White-tailed Kite-1

Swainson’s Hawk-2

Red-tailed Hawk-2

Another Kite trifecta was nice, but passerines yet again stole the show. I didn’t manage to get out to the tower until 7:25 despite an early wake-up. Dickcissels were immediately on the move. The main push happened from then until about 9:15. Large flock after flock was being written down: 41, 90, 88, 110, 50, 90, 46, etc. If I didn’t take a birding trip before coming out here, today’s total would’ve been more than I’ve ever seen in my life previously, but probably comes very close. A total of 1,318 Dickcissels flew by today!!!

Additional highlights included a Marbled Godwit as one of the day’s first birds, 72 Blue-winged Teal, 37 White Pelicans, 115 Anhinga, over 250 White Ibis, 45 Avocets, 74 Greater Yellowlegs, 2 Long-billed Curlews,3 Dowitchers, 50 Plegadis Species, a Chuck-will’s-widow, 4 Great Crested Flycatchers, 150 Eastern Kingbirds, a Gull-billed Tern, over 3,000 swallows, over 400 Gnatcatchers, 56 Yellow Warblers, a Yellow-breasted Chat, 5 Blue Grosbeaks, and at least 30 Orioles.

I just

I just missed getting all of them in this photo but from left to right is a Baltimore Oriole (next to that was a female Orchard Oriole that isn’t in the picture), 2 Blue Grosbeaks, and an Eastern Kingbird. What a binocular view full of color that was!

It looks like we’re going to be in some more awesome migration throughout this week. Tomorrow looks like it’ll be another excellent passerine day and I’ll be there at sunrise on the tower. While I’d like to continue to do daily posts, it is going to be hard to do that this week as migration starts picking up. I’ll post regular updates when I can.


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