First, a paragraph of thoughts buffeted by the weather:

Over the past couple days we have had strong southerly winds, culminating today 
in a front coming through with more northerly winds and a temperature drop of 
over 30°F this afternoon. Today’s weather change is dramatic but the pattern is 
typical here. Despite appearances, this change is not vindictive, and it is 
even explainable: Our weather moves in from the west at our latitude (look up 
Hadley Cells), and we are between the colder drier Canadian air and the warmer 
moister Gulf of Mexico air. When a ripple along that boundary moves in from the 
west, it’s often an obvious storm, with lower pressure and therefore a 
counter-clockwise rotation (look up Coriolis Effect), just like all northern 
hemisphere cyclones, such as hurricanes. That combination of rotating 
counterclockwise while moving east causes warmer winds to come from the south 
for one or more days before there’s precipitation and then colder air comes 
from the north for one or more days. 

Then some generalized remarks about birds:

Birds, being lightweight fliers, use the winds to help them travel long 
distances with less effort. The recent south winds inspired several species to 
move north into our area. These are species which can handle some of the cold 
weather & precipitation which is sure to follow, and for whom the advantage of 
being first to get to a breeding territory first may be worth the risk. 

Now some bird specifics:

Tens of thousands of SNOW GEESE have come into the northern Cayuga Lake Basin 
to feed in farm fields. They are  in addition to the several-hundred to 
few-thousand Snow Geese which were already in our area for weeks, creating a 
white island when they rested in the widest part of Cayuga Lake between Aurora 
and Dean’s Cove. 

Among the new Snow Geese in the Mucklands along NYS-31 in Tyre has been at 
least 1 ROSS’S GOOSE, reported by Wade & Melissa Rowley on 20 February with a 
slightly confusing description, and by Robert Spahn et al and David Wheeler 

A dramatic arrival was NORTHERN SHOVELER, which showed up in several places 
today, 21 February, even though it’s a rare species in winter. To cite sighting 

Stewart Park, Ithaca; 
Visitor Center area at Montezuma NWR, Tyre; 
Mucklands, NYS-31, Tyre; 
Montezuma Audubon Center, NYS-89, Savannah;
Van Dyne Spoor Rd, Savannah;

Several of these places had multiple shovelers seen by multiple observers in 
multiple parties at multiple times, but all today. It wasn’t always easy to 
sort out who found the birds independently and who found out from someone else, 
so the list of observers is very long (see Cayuga Bird Club website Resources 
page with link to First Records). I find this a fascinating phenomenon, when a 
wave of migrating birds intersects with a wave of birders.

Another rarer yet yearly species was also reported today, as far as I know for 
the first time this year, in the Cayuga Lake Basin: EURASIAN WIGEON, seen by 
David Wheeler in the Mucklands along NYS-89 in Tyre. The species was previously 
found by Dave Kennedy on Seneca Lake which, is considered outside the Cayuga 
Lake Basin despite draining into Cayuga Lake.

The first shorebird of the year has been reported as well: KILLDEER calling 
over Fitzgerald Road in Hector, heard by John & Sue Gregoire, either on 20 or 
21 February. I guessed the 21st, but I’d happily be corrected. 

Another species was reported today just outside the Cayuga Lake Basin in the 
Tompkins County Town of Caroline: a PINE GROSBEAK. If the photos in Steve 
Kelling’s eBird report reflect how lousy his view was, then this is a great 
example of piecing together subtle clues to build an ID.

- - Dave Nutter


Cayugabirds-L List Info:


Please submit your observations to eBird:


Reply via email to