Saturday, April 13, 2013

Migration Time: Jackson Childs' Gulf Crossing

As we gear up for the peak of migration, Jackson Childs, a birder from Tallahassee now living in Cambridge, has made freely available a re-edited version of Gulf Crossing: Story of Spring, a terrific documentary on neotropical migration he produced in 2012.  It is aimed at more general audiences and is suited particularly for use in schools.  It is a really nice overview for anyone on how weather patterns and the photoperiod govern migration timing and flight patterns.  It features some really lovely photography (especially of warblers) from Texas, Florida, and Mt. Auburn Cemetery!  You can stream it on Vimeo from Childs' site, or view it through YouTube here. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Purple Martin, Great Meadows, April 3, 2013

I was able to get off work a bit early today, so I went to Great Meadows in Concord to look for a Barn Swallow.  It was sunny, very gusty, and I spotted a large, swirling mass of swallows over the lower impoundment.  By the time I got to the boat ramp area, the cloud of swallows had moved over the upper impoundment.  Between 4pm and 5:15 I looked at swallows.  Around 4:15 I spotted a rather large, dark swallow and thinking it might be a Rough-Winged, I started following it.  Oddly, though, it was uniformly dark underneath.  Then it disappeared.  Around 4:45, after finally spotting a Barn Swallow (FOY), the big, dark swallow turned up again, flying near the tree line over the upper impoundment trail and within 40 feet, allowing really close views over a five minute period:  indigo body, light brown wings, blocky head, wide, fanned, notched tail, and several inches longer than the many nearby Tree Swallows. Quite different flight style. I managed a short video on my iPhone which at least shows its relative size and profile.

Purple Martins are uncommon in Middlesex County, and last year the first bird reported on eBird was May 2; none were reported (as far as I can tell) on eBird in 2011.

While looking at swallows a Wilson's Snipe flew in to the boat ramp area.  Nice afternoon.