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Golden Triangle Audubon Bird Alert Update -- April 8, 2010

The sightings sheet at Sabine Woods lists 15 warbler species for today (April 8), but that fact alone does not convey the kind of birding day it was.  Most birders, even those who were there for a good portion of the day, saw less than half that number.  It seems birds were not staying, but moving on very quickly, somewhat strange in light of the strong northerly winds. Only one or two migrant species were present in any numbers


The most numerous species, especially fairly late in the day, was Indigo Bunting (considered to be mostly a circum-Gulf migrant). . Most noteworthy Warblers were a male Prairie Warbler – a species which has been unusually frequent this spring – and a male Palm Warbler.  Other non-wintering warbler species reported included Black-and-White, Prothonotary, Hooded. Kentucky, Blue-winged, Northern Parula, Black-throated Green, Worm-eating and Yellow-breasted Chat.


Of the non-warbler species, Great Crested Flycatchers were conspicuous.  One Swainson's Thrush was seen.  Probably not a migrant, but interesting nevertheless, was a report of a Great Kiskadee in the morning.  There have been one or two Kiskadees in the area on and off for three or four years now, seemingly enjoying a very large home territory, as they are seen only rarely in any given location.  Most recently, there were two seen in the days before and on the Christmas Count day itself (January 3).  A female Spotted Towhee was seen in the south-west corner.  A Merlin flew past, and there was a Solitary Sandpiper in the northwest pond.  There was a Whimbrel at the Keith Lake (Junior's) boat ramp.


The front passed through as forecast, and passed the coast late last night and continued across the Gulf, with the associated wind shift at the buoy about 300 miles south of Sabine Pass occurring at about 9:00 a.m. CDT.  Any birds that left last night faced a challenging last 300 miles or so, and they may not have arrived until well after dark.  One would think they would be unlikely to continue tonight, even though the north wind here died down by nightfall. So tomorrow morning could see migrants that arrived after dark still in the coastal woodlots, but any already there probably proceeded on northward tonight.  By 9 pm CDT tonight, the winds at Merida had already shifted to the north, reducing the chances of migrants leaving there tonight.  The most easily accessed forecasts for Merida show NE winds for the next week, although the pattern of high pressure northeast of the Gulf suggests that after the front clears, the winds over the Gulf itself will have significant southerly components.  The long range computer models do not show any fronts reaching the area in the next 10 days, although they do forecast disturbed weather associated with a low pressure system off Brownsville and extending into the Gulf in the Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday time frame.  Otherwise, the forecasts are dominated by a strong ridge of high pressure extending westwards into the southern US from the Bermuda high.


With thanks for reports from Terry Ferguson, John Haynes, Steve Mayes, Gary Kelley and others whose names are unknown.


John A. Whittle


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