Saturday, September 17, 2011

Local Migration Birding

I had read that weather conditions would be favorable for migration Thursday night into Friday, so yesterday morning I headed over to the closest patch of woodland: the Rutgers Ecological preserve. I hoped the woods might shelter some warblers and other migratory songbirds as they rested from a long night of flying. As it turned out, the numbers were fairly sparse. I recorded 27 bird species overall, 7 of which were warblers. The best bird of the morning was a Tennessee Warbler, a new county bird for me. I also had nice looks at a first-fall Blackburnian Warbler, a couple of Black-throated Green Warblers, and a Scarlet Tanager. The woods overall were very quiet, with only a couple of roaming flocks of birds. There were hawks moving, once the morning warmed a bit. I saw two Red-tailed Hawks, three Broad-winged Hawks, and one Sharp-shinned Hawk kettling at an altitude that suggested migration rather than foraging locally.

Aside from the birds migrating through, there were other signs that fall is coming soon. For one thing, the air was very chilly, so chilly that I felt underdressed for the first time in months. Some trees are already starting to change into their fall colors, such as this winged sumac.

Fall wildflowers were also in bloom. Above is a calico aster, noteworthy for the mix of yellow and purple centers combined with white rays. Below is a grass-leaved goldenrod, whose flower heads have flat tops instead of the hanging stems characteristic of other goldenrods.