Sunday, April 15, 2012

Some New Avian Arrivals

After a week of winds from the north, the southern winds that started on Friday led to some decent migration into this past weekend. I was able to do some birding around the yard today, and sure enough, migration has started back up after a short hiatus. The first new bird was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher that was feeding on insects in the blooming apple trees. Its nasal call was easy to hear even though the bird was hidden amongst large branches, big flowers, and emerging leaves.

Around midday, I was out on the deck when I noticed a raptor overhead. Raptor migration had been slow, so I was excited to see something other than a Turkey Vulture overhead. When I got my binoculars on the bird, I realized it was the first Broad-winged Hawk of the season! Before long another, and then another appeared overhead. These three raptors were the start of a short flurry of raptor migration that included a good variety of migrating raptors. Two Red-tailed Hawks slowly glided down-ridge while the Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks moved quickly flapping the entire way. Scanning the clouds, I spotted a distant raptor. This high-flying bird turned out to be an Osprey. Without flapping, this bird sailed past with incredible speed moving east along the ridge with little effort. Just after the Osprey disappeared, another raptor, this one taking big, bouncy flaps appeared in the sky. When it was over the yard, this male Northern Harrier circled a few times before continuing on its migratory path.

The raptors were not the only birds on the move! Several Great Blue Herons, followed by a flock of Herring Gulls passed right over the house headed directly north. A little while later, I spotted a group of nine large birds flying towards me. When they got closer, I saw that they had long necks, long beaks, and their feet were extended past the tail. Loons! The group of Common Loons passed low overhead moving on a straight path north.

I ended the day having seen 54 species, which is an excellent total for this early in April. However, in a few weeks, the trees will be filled with singing warblers, orioles, and tanagers as spring migration reaches its peak! Good birding!

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