Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Shoveler Update/Diurnal Migration

I saw the male Northern Shoveler, which I described first on Friday, once again on Saturday and Sunday. I briefly stopped at the pond on both days to confirm the presence of the bird. I did not see a female during any of these sightings. This morning I spoke to Connecticut Audubon Society's Senior Director of Science and Conservation, Milan Bull. He told me that during the 1970s he confirmed the species breeding in the area via ducklings with a female.

Unfortunately, I have not seen the male since Sunday. For the most part the bird was loosely associated with male Mallards, staying with the group as it swam around near the southern side of the pond. It was resting, or attempting to, for parts of the time on Friday and Saturday. I watched it feeding on Sunday. The bird appeared very healthy, but seemed to be alone. We do not yet know if it moved on or if it is still in the area - only that I have not seen it. However, I have a feeling this may have been a wanderer rather than a breeder. Once again, if you are in the area, please give stay by the road and give all of the birds the extra space they require. Do not disturb them during this sensitive period.

Yesterday I noticed there was a fair amount of diurnal migration occurring. The following radar image shows how it was spread across the region. You can also see the incoming showers and thunderstorms to the west from this National Weather Service radar mosaic. The light blues areas are migrant birds.

We typically acknowledge the movement of nocturnal migrants - wood warblers, thrushes, vireos, and so forth - but sometimes forget how many species move during the day. From common species like Blue Jays, to swallows, ducks, and various shorebird species, there can be a lot of movement in the daylight hours. A great example of this is the flocks of Blue Jays, approximately 30-60, that can be found at Stratford Point and by the lighthouse. They fly in across Long Island Sound, rest momentarily in the trees, and continue their journey northward. Keep an eye out for movements such as this now as the birds hurry to their breeding grounds.

Photo 1 © Scott Kruitbosch, photo 2 via National Weather Service

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