Migration was hot and heavy last night across much of the east coast from Maine to Florida. 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.
High pressure over the region set up strong (20-30kt) northwest winds across most of the northeastern US and mid-Atlantic at 925mb (roughly 3500 feet), while winds closer to the surface were lighter and ranged from 5-10kts out of the N. Looking at the local radars we can see strong reflectivity around 20-25 dBZ through most of the peak migration period indicating high densities of birds overhead. The velocity suggests that birds were opting for lower altitiudinal flight (more concentration closer to the radar center indicates lower altitude flight) probably to take advantage of the lighter wind speeds.
While the NJ radars indicate a strong N->S flight which turned NE->SW early this morning, many birds were launching off of the New England coastline and ended up over water today as well. Together these phenomena will result in many birds at both inland and coastal hotspots this morning. Cape May will be a good destination choice, while sites along the north and western Delaware Bay shore will also be productive and inland locations along the Delaware River should see good densities as well. The current northerly wind at Sandy Hook is not optimal for keeping birds late in the day, but the sheer numbers passing over this morning will mean some good birds into the morning (as many birds over water will still need to come ashore after sunrise). Of course, if the winds turn NW soon enough we may see more birds stick around Sandy Hook today. Which brings me to the diurnal forecast.
Since surface winds are expected to vary between NE, N, and NW today, we can also expect raptor numbers to vary across the state in accordance with the winds shift. Expect inland hawkwatches to benefit from the early winds and coastal sites to pick up later in the day… if you haven’t figured it out by now: go birding anywhere in NJ today- just go birding! 😉