Late season migration is still on, with a decent number of birds moving tonight with rain all around. That means there could be some concentrations in the morning, but it’s all dependent on how rain/bird interactions play out as the night progresses. Also, shorebirds are a significant component of this movement right now, with some pretty good examples of this happening on the ground as well.
It’s funny how things change after the second or third May weekend in Rhode island. Somehow, the bloom really comes off the rose and the general seasonal zeitgeist is that warbler migration is over, with nothing to look forward to. I go back to sleeping in and not chasing warblers and other birders stop hitting migrant traps with the same panache they had been. This coming last May weekend, birders will be out scouting late arrivals that will probably have been on breeding territory for 3-4 days, like Grasshopper Sparrow and Acadian Flycatcher. I’ll be shorebirding, thank you very much.
Sadly, I think key migrants are being missed, like Mourning Warbler, Alder Flycatcher, and Clay-colored Sparrow (and if we were ever lucky Connecticut Warbler). These are tough birds and they’re not associated with the same warbler diversity or density that the earlier peak is associated with. At the same time, shorebirds are at their spring peak on the east coast. But all the intensity of those teen days of May can’t hold up forever, at some point we all need to breathe, spend time with our families, and just let the flame simmer a little bit.
Big movement tonight! After rains keeping birds on the ground over New England last night, the flow is really cranking. We’re getting into good late season migration, certainly with some shorebirds mixed in. There are still some arrivals to be had, in Rhode Island at least, like Mourning Warbler, Acadian Flycatcher, and Grasshopper Sparrow. Certainly species like this, as well as other migrants that were present this past weekend are still passing through in this heavy flight.
Winds aloft are pretty light, with a pattern of southerly winds to our east and west, so I don’t expect any major overshooting activity, nor any birds from parts west. No rain, but some fog, is expected, so coastal areas may find some disoriented birds, but inland areas should have clear sailing. Tomorrow should be a good day at all the classic migrant traps and with a good scattering of birds across the region.
Calm winds, keep those late season migrants coming. No confounding factors tonight, just light winds, and lots of birds moving. I think quite a few birders will be out tomorrow, since it’s Saturday and the weather is looking good, so I suspect to see some reports of decent success in tracking down migrants. One thing at this time of year is that shorebirds become a bigger and bigger portion of the RADAR signal, as that migration gets even hotter. So, it’s worth checking the shorebird and warbler traps tomorrow!
Thar she blows! The birds are really moving tonight and with a strong southwest wind behind them they’re whipping towards the northeast. Tomorrow will see a big batch of mid-season arrivals and a very good potential for overshoot. Without rain in the forecast, I would say that fallouts and concentrations are unlikely to occur, but that the expected migrant traps may hold some birds with a more southern flavor and be fairly well loaded with new birds. However, smooth sailing nights sometimes create conditions that aren’t as optimal for certain migrant traps (i.e. I’ve seen Miantonomi in RI dead after days like this).
The strong southwest can end up blowing birds offshore and then they struggle back to shore in the morning, generating small concentrations at eastern and northeastern facing coastal sites. Whether this happens or not will depend on what the RADAR looks like in the morning. I’ll try to update before I hit the field in the morning. Good birding tomorrow! It will be different than today.
After a couple of nights of light migration, things are picking up again. Oddly, about this time in migration, I start to burn out on migration a little. I’m not sure what it is and it’s very counterintuitive, because the birds are still cranking and I’d really love to get my Rhode Island Black-billed Cuckoo. I’m hoping that if I stay on this blog, I’ll get my butt out there.
There’s a little bit of rain in the way over PA, MD, and DE tonight, but we should still see some new birds in the morning. Tomorrow night is going to be really good, as a big alley of southwest winds lines up from the deep south into New England. I’m already thinking that Thursday morning will be a key morning to be out there.
The front is through and that means less desirable winds. The RADAR shows it. Light movements across the east tonight. I think the relatively strong west winds overnight will help eastern New England, but it sure isn’t going to be Friday all over again. Wednesday night is looking like our next best night.
I’m still coming down off the high of finding Rhode Island’s first Boat-tailed Grackle since the mid-1980s today, so a quick post. Typically, we would expect there to be less movement after a cold front, as the winds can become unfavorable. However, the front is still close enough that there are some wicked SW winds for the birds to keep on riding (see below).
Tomorrow will have a new batch of birds, as the densities to the south of us are very, very high, and I would highly advise checking your classic migrant traps for overshoots expected at this time of year, such as Blue Grosbeak, Kentucky Warbler, because of the strong SW winds that are going to continue overnight.
Update 6:30 5/11: I still feel the way I did last night. The front moved into the area relatively slowly and birds put down ahead of it. That doesn’t mean there won’t be concentrations at migrants traps, however. It’s worth birding, even though it’s raining.
So far tonight, the RADAR shows the highest densities I’ve seen anywhere on the east coast this season. A lot of birds are coming, but we have another major player, a massive cold front. These situations can be tricky to forecast, because migrant concentration is dependent on how fast the front is moving and what sort of direction it’s coming from. When the front comes from the same direction as the birds are moving, the birds often put down and disperse before the winds and rain arrive. That is somewhat the case tonight, as birds are coming out of the SW and moving towards the NE. The front is moving similarly.
Whatever happens in terms of bird/rain interaction in the next six hours, there are going to be very wet field conditions tomorrow. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go birding tomorrow, as wet conditions at this time of year can result in all sorts of migrant fallout, including shorebirds. I’m reticent to suggest that there may be fallout as there was today, but it is May 11th and there are some remarkable densities of birds moving ahead of this front. I think that even if the birds are not abruptly grounded by weather conditions aloft overnight, they will collect into traditional spring migrant traps tomorrow.
Considering the uncertainty tonight, I’ll try to post an update after looking at the RADAR in the morning, before I hit the field.
Update – 8:30am 5/10: Migrant traps are full of birds this morning and even local patches have some concentrations of birds I other wouldn’t expect on clear-sailing nights. I had Northern Parula, Blackpoll Warbler, and high numbers of Gray Catbird in my backyard and a local patch. An early report from Miantonomi Park in Newport indicated that the location was quite birdy. If you can get out this morning still, I highly suggest it. Marshall Iliff, of eBird, gave a good overview of the conditions that set up these small fallouts this morning, with west winds pushing birds offshore and fog disorienting them from their typical maneuver of spreading out over the landscape.
Go birding. There are birds coming, a lot of them (just look at Delaware). There’s some rain to the north, a lot of fog, and some west winds. It’s May 10th. Go birding. Go birding.
I didn’t think I’d find myself saying this tonight, but there might be some birds on the way tomorrow. Rain cleared out earlier than expected over New Jersey and holy cow is the dam breaking. There are some insane densities over New Jersey and Delaware (upwards of 2000 birds per cubic kilometer, which is very, very high). Kind of like the migrants have been pent up for a couple weeks? Sound familiar?
And they’re moving our way, unlike the past fortnight. Checkout the velocity from New Jersey, fairly solidly NNE.
With scattered rain lingering in the region, conditions on the ground could be interesting in the morning. Regardless, I would be majorly remiss if I didn’t advice checking migrant traps along Long Island, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts tomorrow morning. This is the start of the break that we’ve been looking for and it’s going to come fast and furious.