Tricks before treats as something wicked that way goes

Not quite a Halloween blizzard, the big low pressure system that dumped rain and snow across the region is now spinning its way off of the US coast to the northeast. For those locales which were outside of its clutches by late last night we saw some migration activity as birds took advantage of the NW winds… otherwise birds hunkered down in anticipation of better conditions today and tonight. 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

As I had written previously, and as I had been saying throughout the weekend, a big flight last night would be highly dependent on the timing of the storm system passing over our region. Well, as of 11:00pm last night the only coastal areas that met this criteria were extreme southern NJ and the Delmarva Peninsula. As a result, a light late-night/early-morning flight was apparent on the radar from central NJ down through the Delmarva (with the highest densities over DE). Birds were also moving out of southern NY over the Albany and Binghamton radars, all of which were headed due south on strong northerly winds. Looking at the regional composite, though, it is clear that the heaviest migration was well south of us where conditions had cleared out the night before… that should tell you something about what to expect tonight (but we’ll get to that in a minute).

With little migration over the region last night expect only minor changes in local bird densities. Northwest winds dominated (and continue to dominate) early this morning which favors coastal locations in the southern part of the state (there was no appreciable migration over eastern New York to convey birds into northeastern New Jersey). That, of course, means Cape May will be the place to be this morning- not only for the best chance at picking up newly arrived nocturnal migrants, but also because the persistent northwest winds will mean an excellent raptor show at the hawkwatch with better than even odds at multiple Golden Eagles and the possibility of a Northern Goshawk.

Diurnal migrants will be on the move today and I expect a heavy nocturnal flight across the entire region tonight as well. Since the winds are expected to turn light and northerly overnight I expect the flight to be more broadly dispersed across the landscape. This is, of course, better for the birds in terms of reduced mortality during migration, but makes finding them a little more difficult for us bipeds.  If you’re in Cape May tonight, though, it will be a good time to do some night listening for nocturnal migrants as overall density will be high regardless of the less-than-perfect winds (north winds still bring a large proportion of birds to the southern peninsula).

Now, get out there and bird- and please come back and let us know what you saw!

Good Birding


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