Birding the Long Island barrier beach this morning was poignant for Pat and me. Having just lost a singular mentor, Tony Lauro, we were especially tuned in to appreciating the company of many newer friends, including some just now learning the barrier beach magic, with us.
We anticipated a flight this morning based on simple experience—it’s late August, and a cold front had finally broken a prolonged sultry period of hot, humid weather with southwesterly winds. All the radar data and meteorological minutiae acknowledged, we knew anyway that birds would be moving, and so it was. If anything, the flight was slower than we had hoped—especially in terms of nocturnal, Neotropical migrants. Part of the problem was the premature swing to northeast from northwest winds—seemingly the prevalent pattern after cold fronts in recent years—which disrupts the usual east to west morning flight dynamic for many species. But there were, as always, things to be learned. Twenty-four (or more) Blue-gray Gnatcatchers launching their tiny selves from east to west with personality were far more than I’ve ever seen here in a day, but warblers and other Neotropicals were fewer than expected. The swallows, counted in good numbers yesterday, continued pressing westward, and these took on a good portion of the attention of the assembled talent (nine people at the Field 2 toll booths). https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S59226701 I couldn’t help but remember the immense flight that led Pat and me to discover our now go-to vantage near the Field 2 toll booths, back on 10 May 2002. On that morning, overwhelmed by a Tadoussacian blitz of Neotropicals, we hunted around until we found the sweet spot for surveying the east to west flux. In those early days of digital connectivity, we managed to get Manny Levine down to Jones Beach and Joan Quinlan and Tony Lauro to join us at the tolls. https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S22010106 As it happened, Joan was with us on Thursday night, with Manny’s widow Mickey, in Baldwin, celebrating Mickey's 96th birthday, when we learned of Tony’s passing. The point is, having taught us how to bird the barrier beach, Tony went on to learn from us, too, and the process continues. Besides the Gnatscratchers, our highlights this morning were a very impressive tally of 39 Cliff Swallows passing east to west, and a count of 71 Royal Terns on the inlet bars—by far the most I’ve ever seen here in Fire Island Inlet. Birds will migrate tonight, too. Shai Mitra & Patricia Lindsay Bay Shore -- NYSbirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsWELCOME.htm http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsRULES.htm http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm ARCHIVES: 1) http://email@example.com/maillist.html 2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/NYSBirds-L 3) http://birding.aba.org/maillist/NY01 Please submit your observations to eBird: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ --