Highlights: Western Kingbird (photo above) & Black-backed Woodpecker
I'm very excited that WPBO has brought back the field ornithologist position back this season for the first time since the fall of 2009. The sightings blog will provide general information on recent bird activity and rarities at the Point. I will include highlights from the waterbird count, but for more detailed information on the waterbird flight check waterbird counter Eric Ripma's blog which can be linked off the WPBO website.
It is still early in the migration here and there have not been any really big songbird pushes yet, but the woods have been fairly active lately. The first rarity of the season showed up on Monday when a Western Kingbird spent a bit of time hunting near the waterbird shack. Naturally Yellow-rumpeds are making up the bulk of the warbler flights right now, but Nashville, Tennessee, Blackpoll, Bay-breasted, Cape May, Magnolia, Pine, Northern Parula, Chestnut-sided, Mourning and Northern Waterthrush among others have been mixed in the flocks. It is early in the season for sparrows, but a few have begun arriving with sightings of Lincoln's, Clay-colored, Savannah, Swamp, White-throated and White-crowned. There have been quite a few thrushes moving the last couple of days. The vast majority we have been able to identify have been Swainson's, but Hermit and Gray-cheeked have also been observed. The thrushes, who typical stick pretty closely to nocturnal migration have been seen coming across the lake all day the last two days. Other than Northern Flickers there has been a noticeable lack of woodpeckers all summer. A few have finally begun arriving with sightings of Black-backed, Downy and Hairy. Flycatcher activity has varied significantly from day to day, but Yellow-bellied and Least Flycatchers have been fairly regular and Alder Flycatcher and Eastern Wood-Pewee have been observed.Other birds observed in the woods recently include American Bittern, Philadelphia and Red-eyed Vireo, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Cedar Waxwing.
This is a great time for shorebirds at the Point and Sanderling, Semipalmated and Piping Plover, Least, Semipalmated, Baird's and Buff-breasted Sandpipers have been frequenting the beach.
Although hawk numbers are relatively low in the fall, there is still a good diversity of species throughout the season adding to the enjoyment of birding the Point. Bald Eagles, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, Merlin and Peregrine Falcon have been observed this season with some regularity. The Merlin in particular are a presence at the Point as they hunt songbirds coming in off the lake and regularly harassing other raptors
A Sharp-shinned Hawk going into a full vertical climb trying
to shake a Merlin off its tail. It did not work.