MORNING FLIGHT UPDATE – OCTOBER 4th (another mega flight!)

Flights this week were consistently good with a few days that really stood out. Strong diversity continued as well with multiple mornings having over 20 species of warblers.  As a whole this year, I feel very fortunate to have such good weather conditions on a regular basis; hopefully, this trend continues on through the season.

Thursday October 1st saw an impressive flight after a night of west/southwest winds. Typically, you don’t think of southwesterly winds as good migration conditions, but clearly that’s not the case at Cape May and the Dike. Thursday morning felt oddly out of place and more like a mid-September flight; the two dominate species were Northern Parulas and American Redstarts. Over 900 Parulas and nearly 500 Redstarts shot past the dike on Thursday. Mixed in was a good selection of early-season migrants such as Blue-winged Warbler and some scarcer migrants like a couple of Connecticut Warblers.

Over 1900 Northern Parulas flew past the dike this week.

The last Chestnut-sided Warblers of the season continue to trickle through. Typically, they are more of an early-season migrant.

Saturday October 3rd was another mega flight. A strong cold front blew through Friday followed by strong northwest winds. This front brought in the first major push of sparrows and seemed to flip a switch, cutting loose the swarm of Yellow-rumped Warblers that will occupy Cape May for the rest of the season. Saturday morning, we counted over 17,000 warblers at the dike, most of which were Yellow-rumps, Blackpolls, Palms, and Parulas. Not to mention over 3,500 Northern Flickers streamed by, making it the highest count of the year so far.

The flight of migrants Friday night was pretty impressive leading up to Saturday morning. Here’s a clip of the radar from around 10pm showing the sheer number of birds moving over Cape May. It’s also interesting to look at the points of land where birds tend to cross the Delaware Bay.

Photo from RadarScope.

Yellow-rumped Warblers have really moved in with force over the last week.

Blackpoll Warblers have reached their peak in our area. With good winds, we’ve had over 800 go by the dike on some mornings.

What a year it’s been for Red-eyed Vireos. Numbers this year are up significantly from normal. 260 flew past the dike this past Saturday.

We counted over 3,500 Northern Flickers on Saturday morning, the biggest flight of them so far this fall.

As more late-season winter species are showing up on regular basis, every day brings something new. It looks like we’re in for another fantastic week with west and northwest winds most days. A few cold fronts should keep it interesting as well.

Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

Daniel Irons

All photos by Daniel Irons unless otherwise noted.