Sunday, May 10, 2015

May 10th, 2015 (+ recap on May 8th and 9th)

And we're back, Illinois!

These past few days have been exciting, haven't they? Vagrants, dense concentrations of migrants, high species diversity, the Spring Bird Count, and a Global Big Day. Even with the absence of my writing this report, the revolution that is spring has revitalized and transformed ecosystems around us. From earthbound microorganisms all the way to sky-bound birds, the diversity of life around us has exploded, with myriad new interactions arising with each hour. To say the least, now is an exciting time. And then there's this:
What an amazing endeavor we take part in, this birding thing. It is staggering to think of all the people that connected with those 4,500 units of biodiversity on Saturday. Truly staggering. What species did we connect with here? The answer, perhaps, is best illustrated by some of the IBET headlines and quotes from the past few days:
Violet-green Swallow at Northwestern!!!
Cook Co Yellow Rail
 Black-necked Stilts @ Indian Ridge Marsh, Cook County
Palos/Orland Spring Count 23 sp warbler, 121 sp birds
"...96 species at West DuPage Woods F.P. today with most of those being found within the Elsen's Hill unit and about 106 species for the day."
Montrose Black-necked Stilts
"With 137 species, I've had my best spring count and one of the more memorable days of Lake County birding."
Black Tern - North Av Beach
Worm-eating Warbler at LaBagh
Cerulean @ Dan Wright
Warbler-fest at Montrose Harbor, Chicago
 Another Piping Plover at Montrose Beach, Chicago
NPM Lark Sparrow

Radar tonight
The highlights? In short, spring migration appears to be in full swing. Influxes range from a nearly-full gamut of warblers to thrushes to flycatchers to vireos to sparrows to grosbeaks to orioles to terns to cuckoos, and more. There may not be a more exciting time in the birding year than this, so it's heartening to read your excited stories from the field.

With the past few days out of the way, let's move onto tonight. Winds aloft tonight are favorably southerly throughout most of the state. But with the presence of a stationary front and attendant low pressure, Northern Illinois is sadly cut out from the fun by northeasterly winds. In addition to unfavorable conditions in Northern Illinois, a dry line is pushing precipitation across the rest of the state. Fortunately, the squall line of precipitation is just about out of the Prairie State, and behind it has erupted migration. Heavy migration has broken out across Illinois, illuminating the radar in all places except IL's northernmost latitudes. Birds are migrating northward tonight, but they don't appear to be moving very far north of the stationary front. Given the low cloud cover over much of Illinois tonight, now would be a very good time to listen for nocturnal flight calls. For resources on nocturnal flight calls, click here or here.

Winds tonight. Click image to view live.
How's the wind forecast looking? Currently, it looks like tonight will hold some of the last favorable conditions for at least three days. Tomorrow (Monday) night is forecast to bring strong westerly-based winds. Though these winds may have a southerly component, their strength may deter most migration. From there, northerly winds are forecast for Tuesday night, and Wednesday is set to bring easterly winds. Thursday night, then, is forecast to bring nice, southerly tailwinds. Until then, I'll keep you updated.

That means these next days will be a perfect time to sift through migrant feeding flocks and study behavior. What will make up those feeding flocks? Conjecture what you'll find in our trust eBird page, or in the latest BirdCast National Migration Forecast.

Happy to be back reporting, folks. Let's enjoy the rest of this month.

Good birding!
Winds forecast for Thursday the 14th. Click image to view live.

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