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Golden Triangle Audubon Bird Alert – September 1, 2010

Fall passerine migration is already under way.  Last Friday (Aug 27), John Haynes reported 16 warbler species at Sabine Woods.  Most unusual was an early Chestnut-sided Warbler. More expected were several Canada Warblers, several Mourning Warblers (more female/immature as is usual in the fall), and Northern Parulas. Most numerous were Yellow Warblers, Northern Waterthrushes and Yellow-breasted Chats.  Circum-Gulf migrants are always more numerous in the fall than the spring at Sabine Woods, and Prairie Warblers are one such species that was in evidence.  On Sunday (Aug 29), there were fewer species – 11 Warbler species were found -- but Mourning Warblers were again active.  Yellow Warblers and Black-and-white Warblers were the most numerous while an Ovenbird was quite early.  The absence of Canada Warblers and Northern Parulas was puzzling.  The full listing of Warblers: Blue-winged, Northern Parula, Yellow, Chestnut-sided (Friday only), Yellow-throated Warbler (Friday only), Prairie, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird (Sunday only), Northern Waterthrush, Kentucky Warbler (Friday only), Mourning, Common Yellowthroat (Friday only), Hooded, Yellow-breasted Chat.  There were also a few White-eyed and Red-eyed Vireos.


The last few days of August represent the peak of fall migration for all the eastern Empidonax flycatchers, and there were many around as well as many vocal Eastern Wood-Pewees. Least, "Traill's" and Acadian were certainly present Sunday, with several obvious Leasts and one Acadian.  One "Traill's" seemed to show the plumage characteristics of an Alder, while several others seemed more like Willows.  Strange to relate, no obvious Yellow-bellied were seen.  On Sunday, one young Black-billed Cuckoo allowed exceptionally long looks.  One other could have been the same bird, but was seen a good distance from where that bird had posed. One Yellow-billed Cuckoo was also seen.


There were Orchard Orioles everywhere, and many young Painted Buntings. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers may have been the commonest small bird. Chuck-will's-widow was seen both days, as was Barn Owl.


Friday was the day after a couple of days of north winds, and this is the pattern to watch for in the fall.  The north winds expected behind the cold front due Friday evening this week might bring more migrants Saturday or Sunday morning.  In the fall, the birds we see are still in the 100 or so miles a day mode, and probably only travel for the first three or four hours after sunset.  The best fall birding is thus often in the early morning.


John A. Whittle


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