NB: space available on last trip of the spring – Sunday May 25th, 8am-4pm, $65pp. Contact me at email@example.com
You know how a plain white wall is the perfect foil for a great work of art. Saturday May 17th was the white wall, with scarcely a migrant to be found. We (all 27 of us) found a total of five migrant warblers – that’s individuals, not species. Set against this plain backdrop, Sunday provided a masterpiece – an exemplary example of spring migration at its best.
Before retiring to bed on Saturday evening, I checked the radar, which showed a significant movement of birds coming out of the south. Prevailing west to southwest winds were pushing the birds in a northeasterly direction, out into the Gulf of Maine. I was reasonably optimistic that we would have a fairly good day, and awoke at 5am to check out the landscape. Reasonable optimism quickly turned to resigned disappointment – predicting migration is an art with a quarter teaspoon of science. Regardless, the group assembled at 6am for the morning birdwalk, and I corralled everyone in the direction of a lone singing Nashville Warbler. This sentence in itself should tell you all you need to know – a slow day for sure. Then things began to get interesting. Birds started appearing out of thin air – the thin air of the Gulf of Maine. Within an hour the one Nashville Warbler had metastasized into a stream of birds moving across the island from east to west. Birds, pushed out into the Gulf by the south-westerlies, were reorienting toward land, crossing Star Island in a hop, skip and jump. The stream continued throughout the day, with new birds arriving constantly, and many continued on to the mainland. By day’s end, the tally sheet included a who’s who of New Hampshire’s A-list, including Philadephia Vireo, multiple Bay-breasted Warblers, and Blackburnian Warbler, though the continuing Summer Tanager was still the rarest bird. You can view pictures courtesy of Brian Mattor and Frank Gorga at the following links:
Quiz question – can you identify this species of tanager? Hint – focus on the bill!