Monday, November 11, 2013

11/11 IL Migration Report - Final

Hey folks,

So this is really, really cool, you guys. I know we've seen this before, but just check it out. Even on a wind map, we can see right where the cold front is, and where it has brought favorable northwesterly winds. Isn't
that awesome?
Migration in Central IL. Hardly
concentrated enough to be more
than light.

All raving aside, we are currently in a very good place for migration. With northwesterly winds dominating the state, Illinois is experiencing light migration wherever there is no precipitation. But it seems that we've gotten to the point where this is as good
as it gets. As the next few weeks go by, migration will become less and less discernible until nothing is showing on the radar.

I've debated this in my head a lot, but I think 11/11 is a good time to close up shop on the report this year. The Cornell Lab's BirdCast project closed up Friday the 8th, and at this point, even if there is migration showing on the radar, exclusively night-migrating birds like passerines are no longer showing many notable arrivals and influxes, and that's what this report is all about!

Before I sign off for the year, I'd like to remind you the same thing that I did at the beginning of the season. Fall Migration is not really a Fall Migration. For certain species, especially ducks and allies, it goes on into the green explosion we call Spring. Migration never has a set stopping point; like all natural cycles, it pushes on, displaying nature's remarkable tenacity and birds' incredible will to live. We will watch and learn as its participants brush in and out of our awareness: ducks, geese, swans, grebes, eagles, hawks, owls, gulls, cranes, the occasional hummingbird, shrikes, kinglets, nuthatches, waxwings, sparrows, longspurs, buntings, blackbirds, finches--these are all wanderers, migrants, that we have the fortune of observing this coming season, even if for a part of their life cycles. How grand it is that we get to peer out of our world and into theirs.

So even though I bid you adieu for this season, know that the birds will always be moving, always be migrating, and that we only have to get out there to experience it.

Happy birding, folks! We may just run into each other somewhere out there.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

11/9-11/10 IL Migration Report

Hey all,

Sorry I missed you last night! I'll summarize it a bit here. Birds were definitely moving last night, as we were experiencing north/northwesterly winds. As many observed today along the lakefront, it seems that waterfowl were one of the largest portions of this as passerines become a smaller proportion of total migrating species. Overall, unless you're a hawkwatcher, in which case this is a very enjoyable time of year, the time of year is beginning to demand more focus on waterfowl and gulls, as many of our winter passerine species are already here. Ron Pittaway's winter finch forecast was relatively dismal this year, so most of the nomadic finches we love so much will probably be a small part of this winter's birding. Like all forecasts, Pittaway's is not an end-all be-all, and he is talking about a different region, so we could still get some
Migration Tonight
crossbills or redpolls. But compared to last winter, don't get too excited. Golly, last winter was awesome though, wasn't it?

Tonight's surface analysis. Note the cold front over MN
that is headed our way.
Anyway, with that in mind, let's take a quick look at tonight. High pressure is sitting east of Illinois right now, and its winds are putting a damper on migration in most of Illinois. Southern Illinois, surprisingly, is actually experiencing the most migration. Winds near the center of the system are almost non-existent, so this area is witness to light migration, with birds flying in the absence of a headwind.

Cool. With that out of the way, how about the next
What the winds will look like when
the cold front passes thru tomorrow
couple days? Early tomorrow morning, a cold front is going to move in from north west of us. While it will bring some precipitation and cooler temperates, the north/northwesterly winds following may facilitate a lot more migration. That means Tuesday morning, after a very productive Monday night, you local patch, especially if it holds a lake, may be hoppin' with arrivals and influxes.

Good stuff, you guys. Have a great night.

Friday, November 8, 2013

11/8 IL Migration Report

Tonight's lack of migration
Hey everyone,

So tonight, unfavorable southerly winds have indeed filled into the area, keeping migrants totally grounded over Illinois. So not much to write about tonight.

Looking into our crystal ball of future winds, winds are forecast to become west/northwesterly late tomorrow and into tomorrow night. With the passage
of a low pressure system late Sunday, it appears that Saturday night may be this weekend's best night for migration. We'll see how it plays out.

For now, happy birding, and good luck!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

11/6 IL Migration Report

(Please excuse the lack of photos...Blogger is being slightly glitchy, presumably as a result of recent Google updates)

Hey folks,

So sadly, it doesn't look like we'll be getting two nights of moderate migration out of these conditions. Though winds are still favorably northwesterly, high pressure is beginning to move into our area, and if there's one thing that fall migration has taught me this year, it's that migrants don't really like high pressure. Though we are experiencing light migration in some places right now, I'm not expecting an big arrivals tomorrow.

Looking forward a couple days, winds forecast to be southerly in most of the state by tomorrow morning. These winds are then forecast to become gradually stronger and more westerly; strong westerly winds will be dominant by early Saturday afternoon. We'll see what happens with that.

Cool. Happy birding everyone!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

11/6 IL Migration Report

Tonight's migration.
Hey folks,

So finally, with the passage of the cold front and its rain out of our state, we and the migrants have attained our favorable conditions. Northwesterly winds are currently blowing in strong but not too strong, giving migrants a perfect lift in the next part of their journey. This is reflected by the radar as moderate to heavy migration, and means that tomorrow, influxes of anything from waterbirds to longspurs are likely. So get out there! Find out what you may be finding here.

Looking ahead as we normally do, it appears that west/northwesterly winds are forecast to remain over our heads until some time Friday morning, so we will likely get another night
Having conveniently pushed unfavorable winds southeast
of us, northwesterly winds now flow over our heads.
out of these favorable conditions. After that, the incoming high pressure system that will sustain out northwesterly winds through tomorrow night will have moved into a position where we are on its west side--the side that produces southerly winds. After that, winds are forecast to remain southerly at least through Friday, which is where my Wind Forecast ends.

So let's get out there the next couple of days! Good luck everyone.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

11/5 IL Migration Report

Tonight's radar - click to enlarge. 
Hello everyone,

The cold front, currently hung
up a bit.
Tonight we beckon the gradual arrival of favorable northwesterly winds, carried by a cold front moving in from, oddly enough, northwest of us. The drastic contrast between the winds on one side of the front compared to the other is so drastic that it creates almost a three-dimensional illusion on the wind map, which is fairly exceptional. Regardless, though essentially nothing is moving in Illinois tonight, after the front and all of its hundreds of square miles of precipitation pass over us, migrants will be in the clear for migration. The cold front is relatively slow moving, as it is repeatedly getting hung up on the nearly equal opposing force of the warm air mass which has been sitting on us for days, but we should see it filing out of Illinois just in time for tomorrow night. This means that tomorrow night, whatever means to be moving should be moving, so expect movements of open country passerines as well as waterbirds in moderate to heavy concentrations.

Good stuff folks. Good luck and Happy Trails.

Where the front should be by tomorrow night.

Monday, November 4, 2013

11/4 IL Migration Report

Hey folks,

Tonight, we have a rather short report due to the fact that literally nothing is showing up on Illinois radar in the way of birds. Strong southerly winds left over from yesterday, as usual, are to blame. 

The depicted cold front moving through IL should bring
some favorable winds.
So it makes the most sense then to look ahead. The light at the end of the tunnel is forecast to exist in the morning on Wednesday, when a cold front from northwest of us will make its way into Illinois, bringing northwesterly winds with it. The front is also forecast to carry a ton of precipitin, so we'll see what its migrant-carrying capacity ends up being. Until then, migrants should remain grounded in southerly winds.

That's all for tonight folks. Until tomorrow, best of luck.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

11/3 IL Migration Report

Not a single migratory peep
in our skies
Hello again!

So, as predicted, strong southeasterly winds now hold a dominant position over Illinois, keeping migrants grounded. Literally almost nothing is showing up on the radar. So tomorrow, avifauna around the state should remain pretty much exactly the same.

Looking ahead, it appears that strong southerly-type winds will remain
Click to view live
dominant for the next couple of days, so today's birds will probably be Tuesday's birds too. We'll see what develops in the next couple days. For now, we have a great opportunity to survey birds on a multi-day basis, noting any behaviors or repeated use of food sources that will help you find/understand birds better next time. Like I like to say, get out there and be your own ornithologist!

Good stuff folks. Bon voyage.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

11/2 IL Migration Report

Migration tonight
Click to view live
Hey all!

So as predicted (sort of), winds are super-weak tonight, lending themselves, or rather not lending themselves at all, to favorable conditions. Even if the winds were a little stronger, the forecast viewed yesterday was actually incorrect--winds have a very slight west/northwesterly tinge over much of the state. So, to our pleasure, the Prairie State is experiencing light to moderate migration over the entire state. Expect continuing migrants like White-throated Sparrows and later shorebirds to continue their travels, in addition to waterfowl, grebes, loons, gulls, American Tree Sparrows, Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspurs, et cetera, which will continue influxing. 

Cool! Looking forward a couple days, winds are forecast to turn southeasterly with a vengeance tomorrow, and will eventually become due southerly by Monday evening. We'll see how this plays out, but for now, make the best of tomorrow!

Good luck everyone, and happy birding.

Friday, November 1, 2013

11/1 IL Migration Report

Hey everybody, and a belated Happy Halloween,

In the wake of yesterday's very slight improvement of wind conditions for migration, much of the Prairie State is experiencing light, patchy precipitation. This means that, although winds may west/northwesterly in much of the state right now, the eastern half is essentially left out of the action right now--at least until the rain clears out. A preview of what's to come for those in the eastern part of the state can be seen in the western and far southern part of the state: moderate to heavy migration. So regardless of where you are, tomorrow morning may be fun for birders around the state. Keep your eyes on water bodies and open areas like beaches, farm fields, and prairies. Waterfowl, loons, grebes, as well as Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspurs, American Pipits, and American Tree Sparrows will all likely be influxing tomorrow. Predict what you'll find here. Cool.

Looking ahead a bit, through the passage of a confusing (set of) fronts tomorrow, tomorrow night will show
The wind direction split predicted for tomorrow night.
another split between eastern and western halves of the state. Unfavorable southwesterly winds will be over the western half, an favorable northwesterly winds will be over the eastern half. This winds, however, are forecast to be super weak, so migrants may be moving nonetheless.

Alrighty folks. Have a great night, and good luck tomorrow!