Sunday, October 28, 2012

Finches on the move!

I went for an excellent hike this morning along the Lake Superior coast south from Pebble Beach in Marathon to the mill effluent treatment ponds and then back along the CPR tracks and saw a tonne of birds. As Alan Wormington discovered back in the day, NE winds along the north shore can trigger large migratory movements of passerines in the late fall. Among the rarities Alan turned up on this stretch have been Cassin's and Field Sparrows, Townsend's Solitaire and White-eyed Vireo.

 I didn't cross paths with any megas but I was awed by the tide of Common Redpoll - one super flock had more than 300 birds. I estimated more than 1,300 COREs in 2.5 hours. Last year in late October I saw similar movements of redpolls moving NW along the coast. Then, as in most years, the migrating flock passed high over head, stopping periodically to feed in the tops of white birches. This year our drought-stressed birch failed to set seed so now most of the migrating redpolls are sweeping through at eye level, pausing to feed on abundant Green Alder cones.

Smaller flocks of White-winged Crossbill, Pine Siskin and Pine Grosbeak were also conspicuous this morning. The flock of nine Bohemian Waxwings and two Northern Shrikes added some contrast. I was surprised not to see a single Rough-legged Hawk passing by Hawks Ridge.

An Indigo Bunting continues to visit our backyard feeders.

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