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.

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

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.

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!

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…


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

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.

Current NWS weather map shows the location of the front.

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


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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


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

Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | April 1, 2014 @ 1:08 am

Bird Migration Ramps Up!

Winds are ripe for migration, birds are on the wing and headed your way! Take a look at how winds affect migration. Where winds are optimal, migration is very evident on the radar image. Birds look for a tailwind which help minimize fuel consumption during the flight.



Radars in the central and the northern region of the state picked up some considerable migration overnight. Check out these images from 12:30am.




With winds pushing birds north and west, expect best birding locations to be on the west coast of the state and into the panhandle. Please let us know what you run into our there and what conditions were like where you birded.

Nature is Awesome
Angel & Mariel

Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | March 29, 2014 @ 8:05 am

Rainy Night = Birdy Day

A prefrontal system is dropped lots of precipitation over the west coast overnight. Migrant traps such as Fort De Soto are in the mix of things with birds headed NW and the storms coming in off the gulf. As conditions sit right now 1:30am, we expect birds to start to choose a location to land as the adverse weather is making its way onshore. We’ve made an image that may help some of you.

Nature is Awesome
Angel & Mariel


Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | March 26, 2014 @ 9:43 pm

Lift off!

Migration is picking up with every night that passes. Reports of Least Tern, Black-necked Stilt, Red-eyed Vireo, Black-and-white Warblers and other early migrants have been reported this week. Check out these images of birds taking off from the Marquesas Islands!


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Now birds lifting off from the Lake Ingraham area!


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Daily radar posts will be up soon. We are in the process of swapping up how we download, animate and post radar images. In the meantime we will continue to pay close attention to the radar nightly and will post if we see anything interesting or big flights.


Nature is Awesome

Angel & Mariel



Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | March 12, 2014 @ 5:25 am

March Madness is about to Kickoff


Birds recorded on radar flying over the FL Straits.

Link to radar animation of birds flying over the state ahead of incoming weather out of the Gulf.

The Bermuda High has taken its place and soon will be the major force behind the southerly winds aloft. Migrants looking to fly north for the spring are waiting for optimal winds from the south to make the crossing easier. Last night winds were ripe for migration and as a result we can see that many birds took to the skies.

We should start posting our regular daily radar posts soon. For right now we leave you with the radar overlaid on a weather map. You can see that a front is moving south and accompanying this front is some weather that is moving west to northeast across the state. Migration was most evident over the FL Straits and into the west coast as well as along the northeastern corner of the state. Areas that experienced rainfall between 2-6a.m. may have an increased chance of seeing some incoming spring migrants.

Fort DeSoto Park is usually a great place to begin searching for spring migrants. Check out your local spring migration trap and you might get lucky. Southern cities such as Miami have been seeing regular pulses of migrants for over a week now.

Keep an eye out for these spring arrivals. We’ve been hearing birds singing while on our walks! Get ready; spring migration is upon us 😃

Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | January 4, 2014 @ 7:00 am

Arctic Invasion


An arctic blast is on its way south and FL is in its crosshairs. An approaching cold front will be making its mark on Florida late this weekend and into the beginning of next week. Temperatures are forecast to dip as low as the teens in some inland locations in the western panhandle. What is even more interesting is the “possibility” of snow over the panhandle. Precipitation is forecast to be available at high levels of the atmosphere and in turn may be cooled enough to cause some of the white stuff to fall over the panhandle. This is not a sure thing, but just the looming possibility is awesome.

Of course we are thinking, what will this cold front do for birders? The cold temps and sudden snowfalls in the Midwest and down into the Southeast could push birds to migrate south due to food being covered by snowfall. Even more of a threat can be ice, birds will have a hard time finding food that they can eat. Be on the lookout for sparrows, blackbirds, kinglets and other passerines that are on the move south in search of greener pastures. Reports of lakes being frozen over may also mean that waterfowl has vacated and flown south. This could have something to do with recent reports of incoming waterfowl and northern gulls such as Glaucous and Iceland Gull.

Below are a few forecast model outputs. Check out the cold air mass making its way south and the temps that follow the frontal boundary. Temperatures will be so low that they may break records. Across the panhandle, Monday nights lows are forecast to match or be colder than records set back in 1924! Stay warm friends.



The above images show a precipitation type forecast. Notice the blue band that is over the Gulf and into the panhandle. This means that all the ingredients for snow will be available at the time of the forecast. Will the cook be in the house? We will have to wait and see.






Break out the parkas and boots Floridians!

Nature is Awesome
Angel & Mariel

Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | November 18, 2013 @ 11:22 pm

Winter Migration Ramps Up ⬆



A cold front has made its way into the state tonight. Temps are dropping behind the frontal boundary and along with this drop in temps, birds have taken flight! Radar is picking up large quantities of moving targets, this could be a push of waterfowl, robins, blackbirds and other winter migrants such as Yellow-rumps.

Unlike spring and fall migration, winter migration runs at a slower pace. Birds make shorter migrations and will drop down with a lot less of a threat. A simple wind shift or a rainstorm sparked off by the front may be enough to bring down birds. Keep an eye on the weather over your area and if you have the day off, go bird your favorite winter spots. This movement should be noticeable in the northern half of the state. The front seems to be the major catalyst to this migration so expect the birding to be best if the front has passed your birding spot. At home keep those feeders ready for the finches and the suet out for other passerines. Enjoy the cool down, brrrr! LOL

Below is a temperature forecast map; scroll down and watch the temps fall.






Nature is Awesome
Angel & Mariel

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