[CT Birds] Saw-whet Owls and migration observations (Stamford)

Brenda Inskeep binskeep at optonline.net
Sun Oct 7 16:17:59 EDT 2012

Greetings to all,

Regretfully, I did not make the trip to Bluff Point this morning for the mega-event, but had a fantastic migration experience to say the least.  It was 2:30 a.m. when I was awakened by the sound of a Saw-whet Owl whistling from outside an open window.  I listened for a minute thinking I might be imagining things and then it happened again.  Thereafter, I played a recording from inside, but nothing happened, there was no response.  Unable to go back to sleep, I listened to the flight calls of many, many birds from every direction winging their way south.  I sat by the window for an hour, listening to the constant "chorus" and watching the moon as birds streamed by, their silhouettes illuminated.  After 45 minutes, another Saw-whet whistled, this one even closer and it was clearly on its way.

Often on these nights of heavy migration with so much energy and life filling the night air, I become restless and find it difficult to sleep, as it was on this night.  So before dawn I went to Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary where the flight continued well beyond first morning light.  With each lift of the binoculars, there were groups of little birds still flying.  Even at 8:30 a.m., radar still showed a solid flight over Long Island Sound.  And there were seven Osprey seen on the move before 7:30 a.m. among an assortment of other high-flying raptors, all seemingly in a great hurry as if they sensed foul weather heading our way.  With Annette Cunniffe, Patrick Dugan, Wendy Knothe, David Winston and Bill Van Loan - highlights included 1 Common Loon, 25 Great Egrets flying in v-formation (seen by me and Annette), 7 Osprey, 1 Northern Harrier (also very high up before 7:30), 3 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 1 Cooper's Hawk, 3 Red-tailed Hawks, a small group of Black-bellied Plovers, 1 Wilson's Snipe, 13 Monk Parakeets, 1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, several Northern Flickers, several Eastern Phoebes, 1 Marsh Wren in plain view, 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 1 Blackpoll Warbler, several Palm Warblers, perhaps the last of Common Yellowthroats for the year, 1 Yellow-rumped Warbler and, for sparrows (including what I observed at Czecik Marina thereafter): 3 Field Sparrows, 1 Clay-colored Sparrow, 3 Chipping Sparrows, many Savannah Sparrows (Patrick later reported a Vesper Sparrow from CIWS after I had left), many White-throated Sparrows, 1 adult White-crowned Sparrow and 2 immature, many Song Sparrows, 3 Lincoln's Sparrows, many Swamp Sparrows and an unidentified marsh type sparrow along the beach in the grass.  At the marina there was a sizable mixed flock of starlings and Brown-headed Cowbirds (no Yellow-headed Blackbird observed) and at CIWS there was an estimated 2000 Common Grackles in the trees with even more descending on the area as I left.  At Cove, we also had Purple Finch flyover and several Pine Siskins along with many American Goldfinches.  I am hoping that others were also able to get and enjoy the beauty of fall and spectacle of migration.  Having lived most of my life in the desert southwest, it is something that is not experienced to this magnitude and is truly special!

The reason for posting this was not to ramble on about a morning in the park, but to ask if anyone else has experienced Saw-whet Owls migrating at night - and calling (whistling) when they are on the move.  Others I have spoken or written to say that it is entirely possible and that it is not too early for them to be passing through.  In fact, this link to a report was forwarded to me this morning and, coincidentally, was posted just a few hours after I heard those calling during the early morning hours: http://digest.sialia.com/?rm=message;id=524103

Looking forward to ducks...
Brenda Inskeep - Stamford, CT

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