Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Still lots of migrants around
Today I stopped for 40 minutes in Gentilly at a woodlot near Delgado, and had a nice little collection of migrants. A small ragweed patch and associated woodland edge along the wooded edge had 5 Common Yellowthroats, 7 Gray Catbirds, an American Redstart and a Red-eyed Vireo. Farther north along the same woody edge, another flock with chickadees held White-eyed and Philadelphia Vireos, 2 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and a Northern Parula. A handful of other birds were scattered here and there, including single Yellow and Magnolia Warblers. With a few exceptions, these are all species that neither nest nor winter in the city, so these are all migrants passing through. I did also see my first Eastern Phoebe of the fall; they should begin arriving in numbers in the next few weeks.
I also spent 30 minutes in the small woodsy patch next to the Fine Arts building at UNO, which was also pretty busy with migrants. I started by swishing a mixed flock in low over my head, including 2 Redstarts, 2 Magnolia Warblers, 2 Pine Warblers, a Red-eyed Vireo, and a House Wren. A Pewee was singing, and I managed to track down 4 Common Yellowthroats and 2 Catbirds elsewhere in the woodlot. A Great Blue Heron was perched in its usual roosting spot in a tall pine (always an odd site, hundreds of yards from water). These land birds were also all passage migrants, and none of them nest or winter on the UNO campus, except that the Pine Warblers are likely to winter at this site.
A few days each fall are (to me) Common Yellowthroat days, when they seem to be all over, including in ornamental shrubs. Today was such a day- with one in a shrub in front of the student union at UNO, and another near the library in a water garden.
These are all birds moving in the wake of the recent frontal passage; fall migrants move south after fronts because they benefit from the tailwinds and fair weather that usually come after the front passes. Usually the peak numbers occur in the few days after the front, and then they slowly dwindle (sometimes rapidly dwindle) until the next front.
Get out and enjoy it while the weather is cool but the migrant birding is hot!
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