Posts Tagged ‘morning flight’


September 11, 2017

Adult female Black and White Warbler

A cold-front, with light N/NW winds sets up, raising the hopes that conditions over a weekend would allow me to collect some wood-warblers! But where would I go? Bluff was the obvious choice – but out of the question – I had Alex, so it had to be somewhere local. Despite a dearth of habitat, spots for consistently concentrating and holding passage warblers are few and far between in central coastal CT. Lighthouse Point it would have to be – it would be funneling birds and although birds are high, it would at least be a spot that would produce migrants. Although I didn’t have high-hopes for a lot of birds “on-the-deck”, I was about to be pleasantly surprised!

Sat 9th September
at 7am, I took up position at the NE boundary of the park. I was flanked by the harbor to the west and it overlooked the last line of trees before the park switches to a suburban development.

It was evident that birds were moving – small incessant “chips and chups” high overhead in the azure sky, could be heard as soon as I had exited the car. The birds were coming thick and fast, foraging and then moving along the line of trees before launching themselves out over the harbor. It was evident that the sky was layered and peppered with neotropical migrants, notably American Redstarts and Blue gray Gnatcatchers  – the biggest flight of that species I has ever seen. The distinctive “blink-blink” of Bobolinks formed a backdrop, moving high above the warblers and invisible to the eye.

I was the only birder present, so numbers are a conservative estimate and I am sure I missed more than a few things.

Eastern Wood-Pewee  6
Great Crested Flycatcher  5
Red-eyed Vireo  50
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  180    A huge passage of this species occurred on the back end of a cold-front.
Swainson’s Thrush  1
Ovenbird  1
Black-and-white Warbler  4
Tennessee Warbler  1
Common Yellowthroat  30
American Redstart  110
Northern Parula  4
Magnolia Warbler  5
Yellow Warbler  1
Chestnut-sided Warbler  1
Blackpoll Warbler  2
Black-throated Green Warbler  3
Wilson’s Warbler  1
warbler sp. (Parulidae sp.)  50+
Scarlet Tanager  1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  1
Dickcissel  1
Sunday 9th September
With similar conditions to yesterday but with lighter winds out of the north, I knew there would be birds today. I got there early and took up a position about 6:45 am, slightly more north of where I was yesterday, hoping to get a “warbler id in flight” refresher course. In the 80/90s, when I resided in Cape May, and free from the confines of a day-job, I was able to witness almost every fall cold front!  However, those days are long gone for me and you quickly get out of practice. It can be humbling in conditions, like today,when birds are high and small. That is the case at Lighthouse..birds are already in the stratosphere, so pinning a name to many is tough…but sometimes you get lucky with a few. Assuming you can track these and lock focus with a camera, it provides some “after the event” clues to the dashing dot’s identity!

Uncropped from the camera – this was one of the close birds!

Adult male Cape May Warbler – same bird as in the photo above

Bay-breasted Warbler

American Kestrel  2
Eastern Wood-Pewee  3
Least Flycatcher  1
Red-eyed Vireo  12
Common Raven  3
Black-capped Chickadee  2
Tufted Titmouse  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  160    Again unusually high numbers after another night of N winds
Northern Waterthrush  3
Black-and-white Warbler  6
Tennessee Warbler  1
Common Yellowthroat  30
American Redstart  120
Cape May Warbler  2
Northern Parula  10
Magnolia Warbler  3
Bay-breasted Warbler  1
Blackburnian Warbler  1
Yellow Warbler  1
Blackpoll Warbler  4
Black-throated Blue Warbler  4
Black-throated Green Warbler  1
Canada Warbler  1
warbler sp. (Parulidae sp.)  80
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  1
Dickcissel  1
Bobolink  60
So, over two mornings, in one spot I managed 19 sp of warbler – and never saw another birder!! This was surprising since the flight was rather predictable in its occurrence, if not the magnitude. It ranks as one of the best (biggest) flights in many years – certainly the best since I’ve lived here. Bluff Point, our well-known migrant trap totalled 9000 warblers in three hours!!!

16th September- CALL MY BLUFF!

September 17, 2012

Observers ready to be humbled by the Bluff Point morning flight spectacle

Mid-september, Bluff Point, CT, the day after a cold-front is a perfect recipe to witness the spectacle of morning flight of passerines, predominantly wood-warblers as they funnel through the so-named “hot corner”. This phenomenon of concentrated visible diurnal migration was first discovered in the late 90s by Dave Provencher, and astute and sharp local observer. Standing at the edge of the railroad tracks at the northern end of Bluff Point State Park, thousands of birds pour out at daybreak offering would be gladiators the challenge of identifying these projectiles in flight.

A longtime birding friend of mine, Patrick Baglee, visiting from the UK had his retinas well and truly wrecked by his first-ever morning flight spectacle.

Today was a c.5000 bird day, involving a combined total of 26 species of warbler! The most interesting were a Prothonotary Warbler and 2 Connecticut Warblers.

Nick Bonomo and I positioned ourselves to the north of the tracks to try to get a better vantage point to identify them in flight and to attempt some “fun flight” photography. There were some surprises least of all a Connecticut Warbler. Nick was far better on the draw with this one and his photographs of the bird in flight make mine look silly!See here:

How nearly all of my images turned out of warblers in flight!!

Red-eyed Vireo, one of the more numerous birds of the flight.

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Apparent Blue-headed Vireo migrating with prey


Swainson’s Thrush – no problems iding this baby!

Surprise Yellow-throated Vireo!


My sub-par Connecticut Warbler shot!

Here is a run down of some the species seen (in some instances numbers are conservative estimates):

Northern Flicker (60-70)

Eastern Wood-Pewee (10)

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (1)

Eastern Phoebe (3)

Great Crested Flycatcher (4)

Yellow-throated Vireo (2)

Blue-headed Vireo (4)

Philadelphia Vireo (3)

Red-eyed Vireo (25)

Red-breasted Nuthatch (20)

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (15)

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (5)

Veery (2)

Swainson’s Thrush (15)

Cathurus thrush sp (20+

Cedar Waxwing (100+)

Blue-winged Warbler (2

Tennessee Warbler (7)

Nashville Warbler (3

Northern Parula (200+)

Yellow Warbler (3)

Chestnut-sided Warbler (10)

Magnolia Warbler (20+)

Black-throated Blue Warbler (15) surprisingly low number

Yellow-rumped Warbler (10)

Black-throated Green Warbler (200+)

Blackburnian Warbler (10+)

Pine Warbler (1)

Prairie Warbler (4)

Palm Warbler (4)

Bay-breasted Warbler (1)

Blackpoll Warbler (100+)

“Baypoll” Warbler (400+)

Black-and-white Warbler (50+)

American Redstart (400+)


Ovenbird (2)

Northern Waterthrush (1)


Oporonis species (1)

Common Yellowthroat (10)

Wilson’s Warbler (2)

Canada Warbler (2)

Unidentified Warblers (approx 3,000 to 3,500)

Scarlet Tanager (15)

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (15)

Indigo Bunting (1)

Baltimore Oriole (1)

Purple Finch (75+)