[CT Birds] LHP 200 hummers

greg hanisek ctgregh at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 4 16:16:53 EDT 2017

Today the Lighthouse Point (New Haven) hawk watch was conducted with W to increasingly stiff SW winds, which resulted in  recording only 6 migrating raptors of expected species. It was far from dull, however. A nice morning flight produced 355 Bobolinks, 305 Cedar Waxwings and 2 Dickcissels (vocal overhead specialties at this location). There were also small numbers of passage Chimney Swifts, Eastern Kingbirds and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. There was a light steady swallow movement featuring (in decreasing numbers) Barn Swallow, Tree Swallow and Bank Swallow.
The highlight came when the morning flight tailed off as expected between 9-9:30 am, but thereafter a major Ruby-throated Hummingbird flight ensued. At 10 am we had recorded 14 hummers, but thereafter 4 of us concentrated on counting the mounting hummingbird spectacle, which we wrapped up at 1:15 pm with a total of 202 (including 75 from 10-11 and 76 from 11-12). To put this in perspective, a good hummer day here is 20+ with highs up to 40-50. However, the occasional extraordinary flight occurs. Today's was the 3rd highest recorded.
First was a remarkable 450 on 9/4/06 (note date); then 270 on 9/15/08. In all cases these were done by 1 X 1 tallies using multiple observers. These birds, like most diurnal migrants at LHP, are reliably counted because they are in direct directional flight (E to W). The hummers fly by fast and with purpose, no hanging around. Most are singles, but one bird tailing another isn't unusual. Occasionally a little flurry of 3 or 4 will come by together. On the biggest day furries of 8-10 were noted. Of course birds are missed. This is the case with any migration count. The count is the best tally counters can muster, relying as little on estimates as possible (and then only with overwhelming numbers). Anything in the 3-digit range is very doable. 
Could there be some other hummingbird species mixed in? Yes, there could, but the odds of anything more than even one rarity are so low that it would be statistically misleading to record these as anything other than Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.
Greg HanisekWatebury

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