Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fall Migration Begins

Knowing that late July is typically when fall migration begins, I just had to get out there, no matter the weather. The weather was not great - overcast, very humid, windy, showers turning to rain, and so, so, so hot. I did some very slow walking and was still drenched with sweat. Yup, we do have a front moving through.

I actually got to see the fallout of the beginning of the rain along the Hudson River. For half an hour the trees were mostly quiet. Once the wind and rain picked up, dozens of birds noisily flew down to the trees along the bank, some mobbing each other due to landing too close to each other.

The site where migration is most evident around here is Ash Drive, along the bike trail. The Red-winged Blackbirds are almost completely gone, and so are the Yellow Warblers. I was quite sad until I saw some travelers stopping by, and of course the honeysuckle and other fruit-bearing shrubs are ready:

- American Crow (1)
- American Goldfinch (3)
- Eastern Kingbird (2)
- Gray Catbird (2)
- Blue Jay (1)
- Cedar Waxwing (4)
- Common Yellowthroat (1)
- Song Sparrow (1)
- Red-winged Blackbird (1)
- American Robin (3)

Ash Drive pit stop birds:
- Alder Flycatcher (2) They were rather huge flycatchers so it ruled out Least. They popped out onto an exposed branch in the shrub near me to see what I was, and I got a great view of how olive they were. They then started calling repeatedly, which gave their identity away.
- Barn Swallow (1) I have never seen them here before. This one flew right in front of me!
- Great Crested Flycatcher (4) Another I've never seen here before. They were alerting each other to my presence and sat on medium-level perches in open canopy, right where I could easily see them. They were passing bunches of either dried seed pods or leaves to each other.
- Eastern Phoebe (1) Never seen here before, and was in a very odd spot - sitting on the railing of a bridge over the water.

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I then headed to the Betar Byway in South Glens Falls. Along the way I met an older local gentlemen who knew his birds as well, and we discussed what had been previously seen here. This is also where it really began to rain. Noticeably gone were the American Redstarts and almost all of the Yellow Warblers, and the Great Blue Heron was absent. The number of Cedar Waxwings seems to have exploded here, again a place with a variety of fruit-bearing shrubs.

- American Robin (3)
- Canada Goose (1 sickly looking juv that seemed to be shun from the group of 9 nearby)
- Mallard (10 females and 1 eclipse male)
- Eastern Kingbird (3)
- American Goldfinch (11)
- Cedar Waxwing (10)
- Mourning Dove (3)
- Swallow sp. (2) - too far away over the water, possible tree swallows
- American Crow (8)
- Northern Cardinal (1 male came right out into the open!; 1 more heard nearby)
- Song Sparrow (5) I finally got a great look at one. Had a dark brown chest spot, thin brown streaks on it's chest, and dark brown malars. This does not seem to match the illustrations in the two books I have, but the song from the bill I saw open was unmistakable.
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Gray Catbird (2)
- Black-capped Chickadee (2)
- Tree Swallow (8) I'm used to only seeing about 2 here - I'm not familiar with their broods but maybe some of these are fledges?
- Yellow Warbler (1 Female, another heard nearby - possibly the last pair left)
-
Common Grackle (1 Adult, 1 Juv mere branches apart)

Pit stop birds:
- Great Crested Flycatcher (2)

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Happy migration! It makes me a little sad to see them leave, but I hope they enjoy their wintering grounds. I look forward to actually doing some birding in late fall and winter, I never have, and I'm curious as to what I'll actually be seeing then around here. It'd be great to get another Pine Siskin irruption.

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