Chomping at the bit

It’s clear by watching the regional reflectivity loop that birds are chomping at the bit to migrate. If only the weather would cooperate! Here’s the radar from sunset last night through 5:00am this morning.

Frames are every 1/2 hour. Click on the thumbnail to view the full-sized animation.

Base Reflectivity image from Fort Dix Base Velocity image from Fort Dix Base Reflectivity image from Dover AFB Base Velocity image from Dover AFB Base Reflectivity image from Upton NY Base Velocity image from Upton NY Composite Base Reflectivity image from the Northeastern USA

Take a look at the regional reflectivity and you’ll see a few interesting things. First of all, there’s an area of counter-clockwise circulation over the Mid-Atlantic… that’s the low pressure system which (as of right now) has drifted east just offshore of NJ. That low, along with several others over New England, is the cause of the winds which both triggered (light WSW at the surface last night) and stopped (stronger NNW after midnight) migration last night into early this morning. In fact you can see that across much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern US migration was abrupt and truncated in similar fashion, with the most continuous migration occurring north and east of the low pressure systems (MA and ME respectively).

So what does that mean for the Mid-Atlantic? Well, birds were migrating over Wakefield (VA) Dover (DE) and Fort Dix (NJ) early last night and showed a strong W->E trajectory which implies that they were being pushed to the coast by west winds. Of the three, migration was heaviest over VA suggesting that more birds have piled onto the Delmarva Peninsula this morning but may not have made it as far as southern NJ. The Dover radar did indicate a flight of birds into Southern NJ and over Cape May, specifically, although most birds in this flight appear to have dropped out of the radar soon after midnight. Similarly for the Fort Dix radar, we saw a rapid burst of activity which decreased quickly after midnight with most birds headed ENE. Expect coastal hotspots such as Sandy Hook to see new birds this AM, and possibly Cape May (fingers crossed for my workshop group!) given the westerly component to the wind.

If you’re out in the field today- please stop back and let us know what you saw (or at least check in, so we know you weren’t sucked up during the rapture)
Good Birding


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5 Responses to Chomping at the bit

  1. wendy malmid says:

    Went to Sandy Hook this AM and there was very little bird activity in the way of migrants. There was much more activity yesterday. The Hooded and Mourning WA’s checked out last night along with all the Least and YBellied FC’s. The immature male Summer Tanager was still around from yesterday. One No.Parula, 1Black-throated Blue and 1 Chestnut-sided WA’s were it for migrants. Lets hope for better migration soon before it is all over. What terrible migration weather this Spring for NJ!

  2. Sandra Keller says:

    Wheelabrator Refuge in Gloucester County along the Delaware River was actually fairly birdy considering my timing also. 10:15 to 11:45 AM. I figured some stuff around as the NW winds. Once steady SW hits, everything will probably hit Garrett and Sandy Hook bypassing the south! I had 2 REDSTARTS and 2 BLACKPOLLS at work this morning also after days of nothing. Glad that low left.
    1 PARULA
    1 BLACK and WHITE – I don’t think breeds there.
    25 or so GOLDFINCHES

    3 YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOOS – finally in. We had 3 I think it was all day last Sat!

  3. Jason in DC says:

    Not many migrants, but three other birders and I got DC’s 1st Mississippi Kite fly over (ever)!

  4. Bill Elrick says:

    Hi, Yesterday was not very good at Garret Mtn Bergen county {northern } NJ. We did have 1 Least 6 Great-crestedFlycatchers, 15 Blackpoll’s,1 Bay-breasted, 2 Blackburnian, 1 Tennessee, 2 Canada’s and most of the usual warblers. The birds stayed low on the eastern cliff edge and I assume they had just arrived. There were reports also of Olive sided fly and 2 Yellow-billed cuckoo’s.
    Bill Elrick

  5. Bill Elrick says:

    This is for the 22nd of May
    Journal of Sighting Records Entered 5/22/2011

    56 records

    Double-crested Cormorant ,2
    Canada Goose ,8
    Mallard ,6
    Turkey Vulture ,2
    Red-tailed Hawk ,1
    Wild Turkey ,2
    Ring-billed Gull ,8
    Rock Pigeon ,2
    Mourning Dove ,8
    Chimney Swift ,2
    Red-bellied Woodpecker ,6
    Downy Woodpecker ,1
    Northern Flicker ,1
    Olive-sided Flycatcher ,1 down Wilson ave
    Eastern Wood-Pewee ,3
    Eastern Phoebe ,2
    Eastern Kingbird ,3
    Tree Swallow ,2
    Northern Rough-winged Swallow ,2
    Barn Swallow ,2
    Cedar Waxwing ,26
    House Wren ,3
    Gray Catbird ,12
    Northern Mockingbird ,2
    Brown Thrasher ,3
    Wood Thrush ,6
    American Robin ,24
    Blue-gray Gnatcatcher ,2
    White-breasted Nuthatch ,2
    Blue Jay ,30
    European Starling ,6
    House Sparrow ,14
    Red-eyed Vireo ,6
    House Finch ,3
    American Goldfinch ,5
    Chestnut-sided Warbler ,1
    Northern Parula ,2
    Black-throated Blue Warbler ,2
    Black-throated Green Warbler ,1
    Blackpoll Warbler ,24
    Black-and-white Warbler ,1
    American Redstart ,6
    Ovenbird ,3
    Northern Waterthrush ,1
    Kentucky Warbler ,1 first heard Tiered pklot 5.30am saw at 11.30am
    Mourning Warbler ,1
    Common Yellowthroat ,4
    Scarlet Tanager ,4
    Northern Cardinal ,5
    Rose-breasted Grosbeak ,12
    Indigo Bunting ,1
    Red-winged Blackbird ,5
    Common Grackle ,2
    Brown-headed Cowbird ,5
    Baltimore Oriole ,14
    Orchard Oriole ,1
    Very foggy at dawn and hard to see birds until later most birds heard.