Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | September 13, 2014 @ 9:56 pm

Will They Stack Up?

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Tropical moisture is still lingering over extreme South FL and threatens to shut down migration out of the state tonight. Birds that landed in South FL and the FL Keys last night and this morning, might get stuck here waiting for better migration conditions if the bands of precipitation and wind hold together. With the impending front coming in from the north we may see a “stack up” of sorts. The front isn’t the strongest and doesn’t boast the stiff northerlies that would trigger a massive movement of migrants, but birds should still move out ahead and behind the frontal boundary.

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Miami radar showing tropical moisture coming in from the south.

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Southeasterly winds feeding the surface low with warm tropical moisture.

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Satellite imagery shows some clear skies north of South FL and frontal boundary along the FL/GA state line.

Southeasterly winds should continue to feed this surface low pressure overnight an into the day on Sunday. This will only increase the chances that birds will stay put and that the storms limited footprint on the state will allow birds flying the clear skies north of South FL to fly into a trap of sorts.

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12hr forecast shows that precipitation moving west into the Gulf may block migration out of the state via the Gulf coast.

We will keep you updated. Check for our post tomorrow :)

Nature is Awesome
Angel & Mariel

Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | September 13, 2014 @ 5:45 am

Migration on a Soggy Night

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Migration is heating up across North America! With every night that passes, more and more birds are headed south. Florida birders are beginning to enjoy the daily arrival of neotropical migrants. Those cute little buggers are back and ready to inflict warbler neck. If you aren’t careful you can put yourself out of the game, so take proper measures :)

Today we saw migration ready birds taking flight just after yesterdays sunset. Winds at 3,000ft were ripe for a Gulf Flight and birds took note. Looks likes many birds took the ocean route rather than an overland migration. Signals were pouring out from the Nature Coast as well as the panhandle and out over the Gulf of Mexico. Most of these birds will be able to make it out over the ocean by morning, but some will choose to return. If this happens, coastal migrant traps such as Fort D and Honeymoon Island may see lots of birds after sunrise. Coastal hot spots along the panhandle may also experience some morning flight due to overshoots.

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Central state locations along the east coast may be slower than one would like due to winds. These winds are more conducive with pushing birds to the west and away from coastal locations. This makes inland locations your best bet for today.

Precipitation dominated the night over South FL, particularly the Greater Miami area and the Florida Keys. Birds were on the ground yesterday according to “Boots on the Ground” reports. We heard a few Swainson’s Thrush and Bobolink flying low overhead just after sunset and then again around 2a.m., perfect timing for birds dropping in over Miami. Some of these birds might attempt to fly a bit south, but all this storm activity might have put them down earlier than they expected. With the constant threat of rain and variable winds overnight, we should see an increase in migrant activity. Winds were again favoring inland or west coast locations. Atlantic coastal locations may be overshot by birds riding a tailwind on their descent. Look out for migrants at inland migrant hot spots such as AD Barnes, Kendall Indian Hammock, Lucky Hammock/Annex and other inland locations. Coastal spots should have lesser numbers due to the onshore winds.

The Keys are likely to see birds stacking up as they await favorable migration conditions. We expect an increase from yesterday’s reports of migrants on the ground. Hope to hear from the FKH Crew.

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Hit us up on our Badbirdz Facebook page and tell us what you are seeing. What new birds did you see or hear? How did the weather affect your birding spot today? We want to hear from you :)

Nature is Awesome
Angel & Mariel

Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | August 1, 2014 @ 3:21 pm

Purple Martin or Wading Bird Roost?

Hey all,

 

We’ve been looking for our local Miami area Purple Martin roost via NEXRAD radar and noticed this apparent roost ring in the Cedar Key, FL area.  Do we have any readers in this area that may be able to confirm the species involved?  Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve and Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park are in the area, as well as Cedar Key Museum State Park.  These may be good spots to investigate the roost further.  If you can confirm the species involved please post here via the comments link below or at our Badbirdz Reloaded Facebook page.  Thanks in advance :)

 

The video is embedded below or you can follow this link, Roost Ring – Cedar Key 7/2014

Nature is Awesome

Angel & Mariel

Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | May 8, 2014 @ 1:47 am

Migrants Push North

Winds are ripe for success tonight and the birds know it! Good flying weather with a tail wind, what else would a migrant bird want? Below are images and links to National and Miami radar loops as well wind maps that help you understand why birds pick good nights to migrate.

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Winds at surface levels look good, but winds at 3,000 feet are GREAT! Time to move for the birds.

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National Composite radar showing many migrants on the move north. The Great Lakes Region looks amazing and let’s not forget coastal migration along the Carolina’s north into Maine.

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Migrants are still making the flight across the FL Straits. New crop of birds for west coast FL birders.

Miami radar recorded birds coming in from the east. This could be a good indication that a few Connecticut Warblers have made it to our local migrant traps. This also elevates the chances of a vagrant such as Western Spindalis, Bahama Mockingbird or other Carib vagrant. Click on the links below for radar loops of migrants coming over from the east into the Miami radar. Birds also leaving the Everglades region and flying to the NW.
Miami Radar Loop
National Composite Radar Loop
National Composite radar loop

Hope the migration gods bring you all some new goodies :)

Nature is Awesome
Angel & Mariel

Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | May 3, 2014 @ 4:28 am

Stalling Front & Migration Ready Birds

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Hey all

This weekend may prove to be the most productive birding weekend we’ve had all spring in South FL. An approaching cold front has stalled over Central FL, elevating the possibility of precipitation overnight for the Lake Okeechobee area. Ahead of this frontal boundary, increasing moisture is forecast to move through South FL and could spark scattered to isolated showers. With winds out of the SW and eventually WEST as the front approaches, migrants that decide to fly should be vectored towards the Atlantic Coast. We are just stepping into the Connecticut Warbler migration window and west winds usually do the trick, so keep your eyes open for the sulky birds.

If this forecast holds true, our Sunday morning Bill Baggs Cape FL SP walk should provide some great birding. Meet us at the front gate of the park on Sunday, May 4th @ 8:00a.m.

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IR Satellite shows lots of cloud cover making it hard for migrants to fly high and navigate. This could lead to an increase in audible flight calls as well as birds on the ground Sat & Sun.

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Winds at surface levels. Notice the difference in wind direction ahead and behind the frontal boundary. This is why cold fronts are so effective at knocking birds down. Rain and headwinds are two factors a migrant doesn’t want to deal with.

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Winds at 3,000ft are holding true to the forecast and are blowing out of the WSW and looks to be W by morning. This should push birds east and into South FL.

Hope you enjoyed! Let us know what you are seeing :)

See you out there!
Nature is Awesome
Angel & Mariel

Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | April 30, 2014 @ 10:00 pm

Southerly Influence

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20140501-024605.jpg Satellite shows the tail end of the front hanging southwest towards Central America. This will disrupt migration for birds making a Gulf Crossing.

A front is making its way east along the panhandle and will continue its path to the SE in the days to come. The front moved into the panhandle with stiff winds and lots of precipitation aboard. Reports came in late Wednesday of 17+ inches of rain in the western panhandle and loads of birds along with the bad weather. Winds over the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) and south into the Caribbean Sea (CS) are forecast to keep the pipeline of migrants flowing for a few more days. Weather will be the main steering factor and with some luck the birds will make it past the front before being cutoff. If migrants run into the frontal boundary halfway through the journey they will meet some serious opposition in the way of winds. As of right now it seems as if migrant traps along the Nature Coast south to the Bay Area could be the place to be. West winds associated with this front may well be in place 150 nautical miles south into the GOM, essentially vectoring birds towards the east. Upper level winds @ 3,000ft should also direct migrants towards the Nature Coast and the Bay Area.

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Below are GFS Model Forecast that paint an interesting picture for the next few days. Note wind direction ahead and behind the frontal boundary.

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Let us know what you find tomorrow and Friday, keep some notes on weather conditions (wind direction/speed, current conditions and location) or any other significant factors that may have affected migration where you birded.

Enjoy the birding y’all!

Nature is Awesome
Angel & Mariel

Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | April 18, 2014 @ 11:42 am

Big Low Pres

A large area of low pressure is brewing in the Gulf of Mexico just west of the Tampa/Sarasota region. While this low advanced eastward, birds were making advances from the south. Winds were not 100% optimal, but birds decided they were going for it.

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Image taken just after 1:00a.m. Migrants aloft over the FL Straits.

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Key West radar shows migration high overhead.

As sunrise approached migrants were well on their way to the southwest corner of the state. Flying over the Gulf and the Ten Thousand Islands. Birds that were flying high enough in altitude may have been able to see or sense the large low pressure area which is violent with rain and gale force winds. These birds are likely to suspend migration and either head for land or drop out if they were already migrating over land. Birds that were flying at lower altitudes are likely flying slower and seem to have continued to fly into the morning.

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Radar at 9:30a.m. recorded migration still underway with a impending low pressure system moving east towards the Tampa/Sarasota region.

***Calling all birders along the west coast of the state***
Please drop us a comment below or at our FB page
Let us know what the birding was like. We expect birds to be coming in for you guys to gawk over :) With the impending weather moving in, stay safe and dry. Storms imbedded in this low are looking impressive on radar and likely capable of damaging winds and possibly hail and tornadoes. Be safe, but BIRD ON friends!

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Images 1&2: Satellite imagery showing us what radar cannot. A big area of low pressure brewing in the Gulf. 3:Tampa radar picking up migration and showing the storm as it makes its way into radar range. 4: Current NWS graphic showing the estimated location of the stalled front that has retreated back as a warm front.

Nature is Awesome
Angel & Mariel

Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | April 14, 2014 @ 8:15 pm

Weather and Birds II

IF migrants decide to take flight and they likely will, they will fly right out over the Gulf of Mexico before they realize the big mistake. A strong cold front is marching steadily eastward. Associated with this front are two major factors that will affect migration.

1. Precipitation: This cold front is accompanied by a large and rather well formed squall line. Radar shows this storm as it moves east into the panhandle. SE Radar
This rain will cause birds to slow down Weather and Birds and usually will cause these birds to “fallout”. If it happens, you will know!

2. Wind Shift: As this front marches east, a big wind shift is due to occur on the tail-end of this front. Southerly winds at the takeoff points (Central and South America and the Caribbean) are forecast to persist, this should trigger migration ready birds to take off. If birds do indeed take to the skies; they will meet up with this wind shift along the journey north. Wind shifts will steer birds away from the original flight path, usually putting birds down at migrant traps.

These two factors are part of the recipe that makes for some pretty darn good birding, if you are at the right place at the right time. So, where do I bird you ask? Read on…

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Current wind graphics for surface and winds @ 3K feet both show favorable winds for migration from the south.

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Satellite image shows clouds associated with the cold front over the Gulf States. More importantly it shows where the birds will meet up with clouds and the first effects of the front, you can also see clear skies over Mexico and the Caribbean.

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Current NWS weather map shows the location of the front.

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Satellite image overlay on wind map showing lower level winds. Notice the wall of west winds moving into the western Gulf of Mexico. This wind shift should result in birds flying longer and harder than expected, increasing the chances of a fallout.

If the Moon and the Earth are aligning for a full Lunar Eclipse tonight, then it looks likes the migration gods have lined up the chances of a fallout for west coast FL birders. Winds should shift, hard out of the west and IF birds did indeed fly north, get ready for some birding! We would expect the best birding along the eastern panhandle, the Nature Coast and south along the west coast. Spots that consistently see large numbers of birds during these types of conditions are St. George Island, St. Marks, Cedar Key, Fort De Soto, Honeymoon Island SP, Sanibel, Lake Ingraham in FL Bay, FL Keys and the Dry Tortugas.

Get out there birding, dodge the rain and be safe. Have fun and find you some migrants!

Nature is Awesome
Angel & Mariel

Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | April 14, 2014 @ 2:24 am

Migration Ahead of the Frontal System

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Radar shows migration ahead of the front with increased activity over MS, AL and spilling over into GA.
Birds are feeling the need to fly, optimal winds for migration triggered what looked like a good movement on radar. Returns were apparent on all Florida radar stations. Below are reflectivity radar still images taken a bit after 1a.m.

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A new stock of migrants being recorded as they fly the FL Straits over the FL Keys and out into the Gulf. Tail winds will enable these birds to move long distances. Winds have been less than optimal allowing for birds to fatten up for a few days. This equates to migration ready birds or long distance capable migrants.

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Miami radar shows an exodus out of the Ten Thousand Islands with new birds flying in off the Caribbean, likely coming in from the Bahamas. Winds are optimal for island hopping migrants; birds moving from Jamaica, Puerto Rico & Hispaniola have longer distances to fly, so expect these birds later in the day.

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Central FL was alive with nocturnal migration. Birds were moving high overhead by the time they had reached this region. Expect the majority of this movement to overshoot you by morning. Areas where rain or fog may have disrupted migration should be your best bet in the morning.

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Jacksonville radar shows lots of overland migration. The radar recorded large numbers of birds moving into Georgia by midnight. This should mean that birds while not encountering unfavorable conditions may fly as far north as the Carolinas and Tennessee.

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Tallahassee radar recorded birds flying the short hop over the Gulf out of the Tampa and St. Petersburg region. If you look at the velocity image above you can see what appears to be birds flying a NW flight path which indicates the hop over water instead of circumnavigating the Nature Coast. When conditions are optimal, this migration strategy is incredibly effective at allowing birds to cover large areas over short periods of time.

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Winds at 3,000ft which is a good cruising altitude for migration birds. This wind map will help you take an educated guess at which direction would be optimal for birds to migrate. Notice that it also helps you see if winds are good for migration over
the Caribbean, Central and South America.

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This wind map with overlaying satellite image will help you gauge where the incoming frontal boundary is currently sitting and where it will most likely affect migration. Notice the large amount of upper layer clouds associated with this frontal system. Birds do not like to fly through thick, high and mid level clouds which almost act as a wall for migrating birds. Look for concentrations of migrants at or near areas affected by the eastward moving squall line associated with the front.

Have a great day!

Nature is Awesome
Angel & Mariel

Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | April 7, 2014 @ 1:33 pm

Weather & Birds

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Last night was an active night for both migrants and a squall line associated with a front. This squall line has been steadily progressing east through the Gulf States and into the Florida Panhandle. As the wind and rain swept across the landscape, birds were out over the Gulf. Spring migration often means migrants arrive later in the day than what most birders expect. This is especially true along the Gulf States and the FL Panhandle.

Winds were ripe for a Gulf Crossing overnight. Warm southerly winds over the takeoff points (Mexico, South America and Cuba) likely triggered a massive flight over the Gulf. The FL Straits were alive with radar returns overnight as can be seen below. A large exodus of migrating birds were recorded on the Key West radar.

Winds over the majority of the state gave birds a tail wind, expect most migrants to have flown past your birding patch by early morning. This doesn’t mean you will be left out with no birds to see, as we wrote before birds do tend to arrive later in spring than fall. With great migration winds some birds may be flying from farther south than Cuba or Mexico. Birds departing from the southern Caribbean and even South America have much longer distances to fly and would be expected to arrive much later in the day than most birders expect. Rogue migrants will fly far into the day and will often fly on past coastal migrant traps to larger greener pastures.

Looks like the best birding should be experienced along the far western panhandle today. With the promise of a Gulf Crossing and a passing front, all it takes is a wind shift to slow migrants down enough to cause a concentration of migrants at migrant traps. If the wind shift and precipitation catches birds out over the Gulf, fallout conditions quickly take shape, birds work harder as they fly into the wind and ironically they begin to weigh more. How is this you ask, didn’t they use up fat reserves during the flight and thus weigh less? Remember the rain? As birds fly hard into a headwind associated with a front, rain is usually on the menu as well. As birds encounter rain they slowly become saturated and quickly become heavier than they anticipate. With little fat reserves on board and muscles literally wearing thin, birds have no choice but to drop out, causing what is called a fallout. Birders want to see one, but birds want to avoid being caught up in one. If you so happen to be lucky enough to witness a true fallout you will know it. If you are wondering about the welfare of the birds, here a few tips that will help the birds:

•If you like to photograph birds, give these fallout migrants some distance. Don’t encroach on them because they are tired out and won’t fly far away. If you continue to follow the bird as it flies from limb to limb an eventually tree to tree, you are making the bird use up what little energy it may have left. Give birds time and distance to recover from almost certain death.

•If shorebirds are stacking up on the beach as a result of a fallout they will also need their rest. If you can put aside the urge to run into the woods after passerines, sit and steward for the birds. You can help with kids running at the birds on the beach or adults that are walking on the beach. If the beach allows dogs, ask owners to leash the dogs as they will likely run at the birds causing unnecessary energy expenditure. All in all the point is to give the birds a chance to rest and feed to be able to refuel and continue on their journey.

•Share your birding knowledge with a non-birder. Someone is eventually going to ask; why are there so many birds out today? Tell them what is going on and why, give them a look through your glass or digiscope a bird with their phone camera through your scope for them. The point is to involve others and maybe you will have just made a new birding buddy.

Today we will leave you with this quote:

“In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught ”
—Baba Dioum

Nature is Awesome,
Angel & Mariel

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