Posted by: woodcreeper | April 19, 2008 @ 6:24 am

Heavy migration over Florida

Light southeast winds and clear skies set the stage for a massive migration event over Florida. Here’s the radar from sunset last night through 5:30am this morning.

Frames are every 1/2 hour for reflectivity and velocity, and every hour for the regional composite. Click on the thumbnail to view the full-sized animation.

Base Reflectivity image from Key West, FL Base Velocity image from Key West, FL Base Reflectivity image from Miami, FL Base Velocity image from Miami, FL Composite base reflectivity for the Southeastern USA

Heavy migration was evident across the entire Sunshine State last night, as all Florida radars ‘lit up’ soon after sunset. The general trajectory was S–>N with a bit more SE–>NW in the southern third of the state (owing to stronger easterly winds). Most impressive was the massive flight of birds from Cuba to Florida, a good portion of which headed west into the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Still, high densities of migrants did arrive on the mainland via Cuba and the Caribbean. Generally, it appeared that birds continued into the Everglades and (although I know nothing about birding the area) might be concentrated along the Lake Okeechobee shoreline. Does anyone know anything about birding this area?? I wonder if the lake is large enough to cause concentrations along the margins… someone should check it out!
As is typical in spring, the heaviest concentrations will likely be along the west coast of Florida today. With the large flight out of Cuba, I would also expect some new birds (although not a fallout) at the Dry Tortugas. I’m assuming that someone is leading a tour out there as I type this, so please post any reports to help ground-truth the radar (that goes for all of you, anywhere in Florida!).

Good Birding


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  1. Lake Okeechobee is approx. 37 miles long by 30 miles wide, totaling more than 730 square miles, with an average depth of 10 feet. It is a protected by the state of Florida. Lake Okeechobee Santuary lies just south of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, and at one time the southern point of the lake was the part of the Everglades.

    The rare Everglades kite is found in the southwest section of the Lake. Resident birds include sandhill cranes, anhingas, bald eagles, osprey, purple gallinule, rails, sparrows, and many gulls, other raptors, and wading birds such as herons and egrets. Autumn and Spring migrations bring many variety of birds including painted and indigo buntings. Warblers sometimes cover the tree tops in great numbers.

    It is a place where birders often travel for overnight trips. Unfortunately, the Everglades from Okeechobee south to the Keys and east to the Atlantic have been developed into residential areas.

    BTW, I used to live in Millstone Borough, just up from the corner of Amwell and River Road. It is a beautiful area. I miss Colonial Park and watching thousands Canadas coming in from the outlying fields en masse at sunset. Always remind me of Klingon space ships. LOL

  2. David,

    Here is a report from TAS Birdboard for the east coast today: Matheson Hammock:

    In Reply to: Matheson Hammock trail migrants! posted by Felipe G.

    This afternoon I checked out the Matheson Hammock trail and WOW.. Warblers were everywhere! The water puddles almost at the end of the trail had the biggest concentration of birds. It would of been good having another pair of eyes to help me out. I ended up with 11 species of warblers. It would of been good having another pair of eyes to help me out.The birds seen were:

    Cape May Warbler
    Black-throated Blue Warbler
    Prairie Warbler
    Blackpoll Warbler
    Northern Parula
    Black-and-white Warbler
    American Redstart
    Worm-eating Warbler
    Common Yellowthroat
    Northern Waterthrush

  3. BTW, I forgot to mention in the previous post that the pattern of warbler species does fit in nicely with the radar movement. These are Caribbean migrants, not trans-Gulf, matching up with the heavy movement out of Cuba the last two nights! It’s nice when 2+2 does in fact = 4!!!

  4. I was out on Sanibel today hoping to find some migrants at the lighthouse.
    Found 2 palm warblers , a gray kingbird and 2 loons at the fishing pier.
    DingDarling and Lovers Key SP were also devoid of activity.

  5. Thanks for the radar David.
    Yesterday afternoon we went to Barnes and were excited to see a new group of migrants (American Redstarts, Black-throated Blues, B&W Warblers and FOTS Blackpoll). We were also lucky enough to finally see the Swainson’s Warbler which was awesome!

    Today we birded Barnes, Kendall Indian Hammock & Matheson (east side).
    At Barnes we observed Blackpoll, B/W Warbler & one Ovenbird.
    Kendall Indian Hammock pleasantly surprised us with 5 Black-throated Green Warblers. Quite nice! We also observed several B/W Warblers, Blackpoll, a Prairie Warbler that glowed like a neon, Cape May, many Redstarts, few Black-throated Blue and about 5 Northern Parula. The Blue Jays observed us for a while as we ate lunch in the park and then we headed off towards Matheson.
    We were treated at Matheson to a good group of 35 Ruddy Turnstones (some in breeding plumage) foraging along the shoreline. Which was absolutely awesome! After sometime of observing them a car passed flushing two groups together making them call out loudly and chase each other which made things even more interesting. We also saw Semipalmated Plovers, Spotted Sandpipers, a stunning Northern Parula, singing Prairies and other shorebirds.
    Today was a good birding day for us!

    Nature is Awesome!
    Angel & Mariel


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