This morning at Fort Tilden there was a *Lincoln's Sparrow* on the path
into Battery Harris from the east, and then a bit later there was a
juvenile *Red-headed Woodpecker* in the trees to the NE of Battery Harris
(the latter perhaps the same one they had on the big sit on the weekend).
Over a dozen *Royal Terns* were seen heading west through the morning, and
an adult/juvenile combo of *Caspian Terns* put in an appearance at the
Fisherman's Lot as well. Not much in the way of visible passerine
migration, though the warblers were having a field day cashing in on the
numerous hatch-outs of winged ants.
Migration-wise, after a very slow start (almost no raptors until after 10
AM) there ended up being more than 50 Osprey heading west over the barrier
(a great number for this late a date), and also more than 20 Merlin. Steve
Walter was still around when I left, and he could perhaps add more to those
However, the obvious highlight of the day was the massive westbound
movement of Monarch Butterflies. An almost three hour vigil atop the
Battery Harris platform yielded approximately 4,000 of these, quantifying
it based on many minute-long counts taken throughout the morning. This all
came after 8:00 AM, when the flow started as if a faucet was turned on, and
ended around 10:00 AM. The wind was almost nonexistent early, and this
likely contributed to them being spread out north to south, and also moving
quite slowly to the west. I then headed over to the fisherman's lot to the
west to see if there were Monarchs in the abundant Seaside Goldenrod there,
even though the flow had appeared to lessen at that point.
When I got over to the Fisherman's Lot, however, the flow was much thicker,
and we peaked at a steady rate of 170/minute for 20 minutes or so, and over
150/minute for almost three hours (including those aforementioned 20
minutes), before slowing down to the 110/minute range, and then scaling
back even more as the wind shifted more to the west, which probably made
the flight much less concentrated. It was one of the more phenomenal
migratory movements of any animal that I've ever seen in the state. As for
total Monarch numbers, from the notes of the rates I was taking throughout
the day (until I left at 2:15 PM), I reckoned that I saw just about 35,000
Monarchs heading west. Given a 40 minute gap in my counting, it would be
safe to say that 38,000-40,000 Monarchs passed through Fort Tilden through
This never-ending ribbon of Monarchs through the dunes was truly astounding.
Good Birding, Butterflying and and everything else-ing
-Doug Gochfeld. Brooklyn, NY.
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