Migration (original title)

Ethan Monk

Through last weekend there was a decent movement of Hermit Warbler through the county, and similarly with Swainson's Thrush, but throughout the week movement died down. Yesterday early morning the winds died, any clouds cleared, and the weather warmed, creating good conditions for bird movement in the valley. I spent a little over 3 hours on Bethel Island from 540 am to 9ish Friday morning, enjoying the birds that coalesced. At Piper Slough, there were at minimum 6-7 Swainson's Thrush singing +calling, a good showing of Lazuli Bunting (5), Tanager (6 at Piper, 1 elsewhere), 2 Pac-slope, 1 Chipping Sparrow, and higher numbers of Black-headed Grosbeak(12), Bullock's(10), and Chat (4, some displayed) than I expect to breed. Wilson's and Yellow Warblers were abundant at Piper (8 + 14) with several individuals scattered elsewhere on the island. ~620am, a small handful of Yellow Warblers dropped in over Piper Slough heading N, turned around, and flew back into the willows. I observed the same spectacle with Tanager (2), Warbling Vireo (1), and Lazuli Bunting (1). The numbers/ratios of migrants here seemed to correspond to other sites in the valley that morning, with the exception of Warbling Vireos. I only found that 1 that dropped in about 630, but others reported much higher numbers elsewhere in the valley and the bay.

Other locally occurring species of interest included 1 Cal Towhee in the Piper Willows--not a member of the continuing pair and rare in the delta, 2 Tricolored Blackbird (breeding close by?), ~15 Waxwing moving North, continuing Allen's Hummers at Piper and Bethel Harbor, 2 Bittern "singing" at Piper (one continuing, one new), and a flock of 160 some ibis flying by early morning. Also of note, the flooded fields at Bethel are now almost completely dry.
Just Piper:

Nocturnal migration the past couple nights has been decent(?) at my house. I've set up a scope pointed at the full moon, and with sunglasses on (the moon is too bright otherwise--the neighbors were confused, too) I've had about 1 passerine every 5-6 minutes heading N. A couple days back I had a flock of dowitchers pass by the moon. I live in Alamo, 10 miles from Shorebird habitat--that was cool. "Moonwatching" is still novel to me, but I find it enjoyable.

In terms of things I'm not seeing--Solitary Sandpiper, Black Tern, and phalaropes have not made any sort of a showing in East county. This isn't helped by the fact that shorebird habitat keeps disappearing: Jersey Island went dry a couple weeks back, Bethel is nearly dry now, Orwood has orchards where flooded fields used to be, Holland Tract landowners are now hostile to birders in the face of the epidemic, and Ironhouse Sanitary is still poorly maintained. The only remaining habitat for any of these species is at Byron WTP, Clifton Court, and Bradford (plagued with its own set of problems). There are no flooded fields along Bixler Rd. or Byer Rd. this year as there have been in the past.

Pileated Woodpecker continue to avoid me (I'm slowly approaching 15 dips, if I haven't reached that total already) but 2 Hermit Thrush are singing as of Thursday on Pinehurst Rd., and hopefully will breed there among the Swainson's.

The next couple days a cloud mass is supposed to roll in, which could change things up a bit. Clouds in May can be exciting. We'll see.

Good birding,