Like several others in our group, I keep a close eye on the weather forecasts, and I wanted to share an early heads up that after the next major frontal system passes on early Wednesday night, the proverbial dam will burst. With high pressure settling in over the Great Lakes, the winds look especially conducive for migrating songbirds to pile up along the shoreline. In fact Thursday and Friday look amazing. It will probably be a day that brings Bay-breasted Warblers to many people's backyards. If you get out in decent habitat, there should be flocks of boreal warblers to see. (Key in on chickadees and titmice, they often form the nucleus of fall mixed-species foraging flocks.)
The northwest winds should continue (and migrants should accumulate) right up to the point where the effects of Hurricane Lee will be felt. This is a bit of ornithological and meteorological speculation, but I’m actually a bit relieved that the storm’s westward shift in track might end up helping southbound migrants in a big way. A few days ago, the hurricane was predicted to be further offshore, and then tracking out to the North Atlantic without touching land. My concern with that track was that the storm would be a “black hole” just offshore in the Mid-Atlantic Bight, and at this time of year, when the southbound birds have been bottled up for so long, I was concerned that a ton of birds, especially juveniles, on their first migration, would overshoot the coast and continue right out to sea, into the storm, never to be heard from again. The latest track, however, has the storm quickening pace and zooming right up into the Bay of Fundy. So, hopefully any birds sucked into the vortex will survive and fall out in the Canadian Maritime provinces. That would be a migratory setback, but they could then continue moving down the coast again.
In any event, everyone should keep an eye out for any additional changes to the track in Hurricane Lee.
Today and Wednesday look great for seeing the bottled-up shorebirds that are hanging out and waiting for tailwinds. (After they get their tailwinds, I expect a mass exodus of shorebirds.) If you’re in the right place at the right time as the front approaches on Wednesday afternoon, that may be your best bet for things like Black Terns that are most often encountered as inclement weather alters their migratory plans.
Good birding to all, and keep an on the weather.
New Haven, CT