Odds and Ends - 6 Sep 2010

I gather not too many people were out in the field yesterday but here are a few odds and ends:

On Labor Day (6 Sep), John Shemilt noted a PIED-BILLED GREBE in the pond at the 5th hole at the Noyac Golf Club and also counted 15 to 20 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS with evidence of several pairs nesting.

Meanwhile in Springs, a scruffy immature male PURPLE FINCH briefly joined the mixed passerine flock roving around my yard, which included a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, American Redstart, Black-and-white Warbler and Eastern Phoebe. I've already noticed a sprinkling of Purple Finch reports from Connecticut, Long Island and elsewhere and predict a decent number throughout the fall and winter even.

On Saturday (4 Sep) Vicki Bustamante observed 2 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, 17 yellowlegs (most likely Lessers), 2 BLUE-WINGED TEAL and a SOLITARY SANDPIPER on the pond at Rita's Horse Farm near Montauk.

Over the weekend, Jack Passie noted a number of hummingbirds (presumably Ruby-throated Hummingbirds) fly westwards past his boat ('Windy') whilst fishing off Montauk Point. It is hard not to be moved by scale of the journey ahead of these tiny birds. Early September is the peak migration time and most of the hummingbirds we will see now are in fact migrants from further north. Adult males generally depart first (early Aug), followed by adult females and finally the young of the year (early Oct). Most Ruby-throats winter in central America, ranging across a broad swath from southern Mexico into northern Panama. Unlike the spring when many individuals make an epic 500-mile non-stop flight across the Gulf of Mexico, studies suggest that southbound birds are more likely to follow the Texas coast. This may minimize the chance of encountering tropical storms which of course are disasterous. There is no evidence that Ruby-throats travel through the islands of the Caribbean despite numbers in southern Florida, where a few winter. Daytime migration is not unusual, and it is believed that birds refuel briefly on flowering plants (especially jewelweed) first thing in the morning before setting off across water or other flower-deficient habitats.

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