Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bird exodus on radar last night



The recent cold front seemed to put birds down in a rather patchy way.  Last night the winds had switched to have a southerly component, and (as is typically the case) the birds grounded by the front took the opportunity to leave on the tailwind.

Most songbirds migrate at night- the images below are from 8:15 and 8:53 last night, respectively.  Track the green blob as it moves northwest between the two images.  It indicates an apparent concentration of them taking off from the English Turn area (a large wooded patch), and heading NW at what appears to be about 45 mph (~30 miles in 40 minutes, eyeballing it).  The other light blue, starting in the first pic but greatly expanded in the second, is probably also birds taking off in lower densities and heading north, but could include bugs and other "aerial plankton."

The English Turn concentration is interesting, as someone who lives in a nearby part of Algiers reported their lawn being covered in Indigo Buntings- they may have been on the edge of that concentration of migrants.

Out my window right now (noon) are extensive glowering clouds- a widespread rainfall can act like a cold front, forcing migrants coming north across the Gulf to stop in our area, sometimes in impressive numbers.  Oddly, in good weather with a tailwind, they simply by-pass


us and head inland, too high up for us to see (except on radar).   If the rain is gone by nightfall, they leave the same night (often).

Let's see what happens!

Peter

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mockingbird fledglings


The first mockingbird fledglings of the spring at UNO and in my hood have made it out of their nests, and are relentlessly soliticing food from their parents.  A mockingbird fledgling makes little effort to conceal its hunger, producing a high frail sssseeeeeeee endlessly as the parents scramble around hunting for food.

Since the nesting cycle takes 3+ weeks from the start of incubation to leaving the nest, these birds are from nests that began around the middle of March.

Mockingbirds in our area can produce as many as three successful broods in a nesting season; these birds may be at it through August.

Peter

Friday, April 11, 2014

First Least Terns back in New Orleans


I saw my first Least Terns of the season an hour ago, over the floodwater retention ponds at Earhardt x Clearview in Metairie.  Two birds.

They usually nest on several rooftops in the greater metro area (all South Shore, as far as I know).  Last year they did so on the roof of my building at UNO- I'm hoping they do an encore!

Peter

Birding Made Easy-New Orleans can be purchased via the Paypal button on this blog ($24 including shipping), or by sending me a personal check (email me for specs), or for $24.95 at local bookstores.  It is now available at:


Uptown:  Garden District Book Shop, Maple Street Book Shop, Octavia Books
French Quarter and Marigny:  Peach Records, Fauborg Marigny Art Books Music, Librairie Book Shop, Beckham's Bookshop, Arcadian Books and Prints, the Crabnet
Mid City:  City Park Botanical Garden, Community Book Center
Metairie:  Double M Feed on W. Esplanade
Harahan:  Double M Feed on Jefferson Hwy
North Shore:  Mandeville Chiropractic

Questions?  Email me at birding.made.easy.new.orleans@gmail.com
  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A few migrants at UNO


I stole 30 minutes to look for migrants in the woods by the Fine Arts building at UNO this morning (a tiny wooded patch).  Birds were quiet, but I managed to sleuth out:
2 Hooded Warbler
1 American Redstart (black and orange male)
1 Ovenbird
1 Kentucky Warbler
1 Worm-eating Warbler
1 Common Yellowthroat
1 White-eyed Vireo
1 probable Gray Catbird (singing softly)

In nearby shade trees were a pair of Indigo Buntings.  A UNO colleague reported 2 Summer Tanagers yesterday at the same spot, and Scarlet Tanager and Worm-eating Warbler in shade trees elsewhere on campus.  There should continue to be some songbird migrants around while the north winds hold them here.

I close with a photo of a brilliant male Summer Tanager taken recently in a backyard in Marrero, by Paul Wolf.

Peter


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Gull-billed Terns back over Metairie

Thirty minutes ago, I was delighted to see two Gull-billed Terns winging strongly eastward over the Rouse's on David Drive- my first of the year.

Their flight path did not take them to or from any rooftop nesting site that I know of- I wonder if they will take up housekeeping on a new location this spring.

The migrants keep coming...

Peter

Birding Made Easy-New Orleans It is now available at:

Uptown:  Garden District Book Shop, Maple Street Book Shop, Octavia Books
French Quarter and Marigny:  Peach Records, Fauborg Marigny Art Books Music, Librairie Book Shop, Beckham's Bookshop, Arcadian Books and Prints, the Crabnet
Mid City:  City Park Botanical Garden, Community Book Center
Metairie:  Double M Feed on W. Esplanade
Harahan:  Double M Feed on Jefferson Hwy
North Shore:  Mandeville Chiropractic

Questions?  Email me at birding.made.easy.new.orleans@gmail.com
  

Monday, March 31, 2014

Prothonotary at City Hall



Didn't get out to do much birding today, but in the course of my daily activities I found myself at City Hall in downtown New Orleans.  In the park facing the front entrance, a Prothonotary Warbler was singing in full force in one of the live oak shade trees!  I walked over and swished a bit, without binoculars, and the bird came in for a peak- as did about eight other warblers/vireos with it.  Among them were a Red-eyed Vireo, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, a white-breasted vireo of some sort (probably White-eyed), and either a second Prothonotary or female Hooded (yellow below, flashing white tail spots).

Where were my binocs when I needed them!

Some birds usually hang around from a fallout as long as north winds prevail to impede their movement onwards.  These were presumably hangers-on from this weekend.  The sloppy weather forecast for later in the week may potentially bring another concentration.

Peter

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Migrants crossing Lake Pontchartrain this morning


In the wake of fallouts reported downriver and at Grand Isle yesterday, I went to South Point this morning to check on a phenomenon I first noticed last spring:  migrants crossing the lake the morning after a coastal fallout.  My interpretation last spring was that birds were departing the areas on or near the coast where they had fallen out the day before, flying against the northeast winds (which follow cold fronts, the common precipitator of fallouts), continuing their way northward.

There was a cross-lake movement evident this morning.  At the base (south end) of the Hwy 11 bridge, I stood from 0740-0755, and estimated:
30 Tree Swallow
1 Cliff Swallow
8 Barn Swallow
20 Purple Martin
15 Chimney Swift
4 unidentified warblers
4 cowbirds
these were all crossing the lake northward.

I then drove to the gravel frontage road back west to its gate, and walked out the levee to the railroad bridge, where the light is better and context more charming.  I spent 45 minutes out there, 830-915, and estimated (all lake crossers):
120 Tree Swallow
24 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (6 flocks)
15 American Goldfinch (all one flock; chickened out and reversed back)
13 Little Blue Herons (flock of adults)
10  Barn Swallow
9 Cowbirds (flock; one was a male Brown-headed)
8 Yellowlegs (flock of 7 Greaters with one Lesser)
7 Eastern Kingbird (five singles or flocks)
6  Chimney Swift
6 Purple Martin
2 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
2 Yellow-rumped Warbler (only!)
2 Orchard Oriole (both full adult males)
1 Indigo Bunting (male)
there were also 40 or so other small landbirds (and not swallows or swifts) that I did not identify, crossing,
in addition a Belted Kingfisher flying higher above the ground than usual seemed to want to cross the lake but also aborted.

The greatest highlight was two Swallow-tailed Kites that came through, barely above ground level- from atop the levee, I was looking down at them!  They also crossed the lake.

There were other birds around, most notably a Roseate Spoonbill in pale pink plumage- an unusual date for this far inland.  Along the road between the gate and levee were a male Blue Grosbeak, a Prothonotary Warbler, and three gnatcatchers.  The impounded marsh along the levee had its usual coots, Gadwall, Blue-winged Teal, egrets, etc., and a Bald Eagle.   The tidal marsh along the levee had calling Clapper Rails- three or so.

Good birding,

Peter