Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Concord Birds: Summer and Fall 2014

As it is the third week of October, some kind of update on the Concord Birds Project is long overdue, to put it mildly!  It is always tempting to let the numbers do the talking, but they don't tell the whole truth, do they?  Still, the very strong spring migration was evident in some telling comparisons with 2013, the first year of our town-wide eBird census.  Here are some numbers that indicate the very different pace of spring and fall migrations in 2013 and 2014 (running total by end of period):

2013 /  2014
Jan-Apr (143) (134)
May (191) (198)
June (193) (201)
July (198) (204)
August (205) (204)
Sept (214) (206)
Oct (218) (209)

You may recall that winter of 2013 was relatively mild, with open water, irruptive finches, and many birds over-wintering.  2014, by comparison, had northern owls and lots of ice.  May of 2013 was not spectacular, with only a few 19-warbler reports and only 47 species found.

Louisiana Waterthrush, Estabrook Woods, April 2014

May of 2014 was, by all accounts, one of the best in memory, with 63 species found and truly spectacular warbler reports routinely hitting the high teens, with one 23-warbler day by the Winstanley brothers in their back yard migrant trap! We went into May trailing 2013 by 9 birds and came out 7 ahead.

Fledgling Orchard Oriole, Great Meadows Concord, June 2014

Then things slowed down again, and by the end of September we were again trailing 2013 by the same margin as in early spring.  Part of the problem was the condition of Great Meadows: completely overtaken by lotus, with a late draining of the upper impoundment.  Not a single Snowy Egret was reported, and certainly no Little Blue Heron.  Compared to the relatively good shorebird migration of 2013, this summer was pretty grim.

Green Heron, Knox Trail wetland, July 2014

Fall warbler migration has been, in a word, slow; actually, it has been a mere trickle of birds, with an initial blast of Redstarts, but very small numbers of Blackpolls and Yellow-Rumps.  More productive was the number of nighttime flight call reports, including several Gray-Cheeked Thrushes and numerous Swainson's. Sparrows have been building in waves, with good reports from Kaveski and Barrett's Mill.  At least three Clay-Colored Sparrows have been found, but extremely few Dickcissels have been reported so far. At Great Meadows the first Coot and Ringnecks have arrived, and a week ago there was a spectacular fly-over of 54 White-Winged Scoters, unusual inland.

Dickcissel, Barrett's Mill Farmland, October 2013

Clay-Colored Sparrow, Barrett's Mill Farmland, October 2014
As of the third week of October, no rare geese have turned up, although one, perhaps two, candidates for Cackling Goose have been spotted.  Pipit flocks are growing and there has been one Longspur flyby.  It will take a serious turn-around, though, to make the 2013 number of 225.  Stay tuned!

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