Light and variable winds at all altitudes over much of the Northeast resulted in a light to moderate movement of birds into the mid-Atlantic last night. Here’s the radar from 7:30pm last night through 5:00am this morning.
Frames are every 1/2 hour. Click on the thumbnail to view the full-sized animation.
Last night the conditions were good for migration: light and variable (although generally northerly) winds aloft and on the surface, and clear skies for navigation. So when you see such atmospheric conditions followed by such a light flight of migrants you have to wonder why. I think the best explanation is that many of the migration-ready birds that were in the Northeast have cleared out over the last several nights, leaving a smaller source pool from which to draw new migrants. Both Fort Dix (yeah! we’re back online!) and Dover showed migrants heading NE->SW under variable (northern NJ) to moderate NE (southern NJ) winds.
For today expect inland migrant traps to again produce the most birds with coastal areas seeing some drop in overall numbers given the light NE winds. Based on the few reports that came in yesterday, Chimney Rock was a good pick in NJ for an inland hotspot. While I had initially thought that the Higbee Dike flight might not produce as much yesterday because of the light NE winds, the sheer number of birds launching off of the New England coast two nights ago clearly resulted in lots of birds piled up on the coast as well. By 9:00am yesterday, though, many of the 1000’s of birds seen moving past the dike were long gone and finding landbirds around Cape Island was much more difficult. I would imagine that without another big influx of birds this morning that both the dike flight and the general birdiness of Cape May would be decreased today. Thanks to Tom Johnson’s efforts, we’ll all be able to see how that plays out. You can read his daily posts about the flight, and other ornithological musings, on the birdcapemay.org View From the Field page.
Looking ahead we have a series of low pressure systems moving into central Canada which will cause winds to turn more southerly and strengthen through the weekend. We may see some light migration tonight but after that expect very little until early next week. Monday night could see the uncorking of the bottled up migrants, but that depends on a few things coming together which are too far away right now to make me book a sick day. Of course any observations you can post would be greatly appreciated so please come back and let us know what you see.