Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | September 16, 2011 @ 10:49 am

Big Flight To The North; They Are Coming!

This is the radar from 5:00pm last night to 10:00am this morning.

Frames are every 1/2 hour. 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

A major flight occurred last night across the NE and Mid-Atlantic regions. This means of course that birds are on the way south, big time! A cold front cleared the NE last night triggering a massive migration event on the heels of the boundary. Most of the state experienced variable winds at the surface level. Over the Gulf as birds streamed past the panhandle on north winds, a surprise was lingering. South to SE winds west of Tampa seems to have slowed the progress of these Trans-Gulf migrants as birds could be seen over the Gulf as of 10am. These birds look to be working their way back E and NE on the SE winds. Birds will be flying a reverse migration pattern as they return back land so if you see northbound migrants don’t scratch your head.

High pressure is out over the Gulf and stretching across northern FL, causing significant changes in wind direction as migrants fly south of the panhandle. North of the high pressure everyone experienced N-NNW wind flow; as a result there was very heavy migration from north Florida northward, and moderate to light migration down the peninsula. Either way, there was a good push of birds both into and through the state. South of panhandle, easterly winds should push birds to the coast on the west coast and along the east coast of the state we expect the best birding at inland migrant traps.

Today is our good friend Michelle’s birthday and we hope that the conditions have brought her a good bday bird. Happy Birthday Michelle!

Don’t forget to let us know what you are seeing! Click on the comments link to leave your observations and share with the rest of the FL radar ornithology community.

Nature is Awesome,
Angel and Mariel



  1. The second day of monitoring at the Florida Keys Hawkwatch gave us 9 species, for a total of 27 birds

    Although we had nearly the same species as yesterday, we had to work a lot harder for less birds. We did not see a Swallow-tailed Kite, but had the season’s first Sharpies. Nearly all the raptors observed today were migrating at high altitudes, and towards the end of the day they neared the limit of identification using binoculars. Winds were out of the east-northeast, averaging below 5km/h, with gusts up to 15.9km/h. The high flights combined with very low cloud cover (0% the last 2 hours) made for a challenging day.

    Our totals are as follows:

    Osprey – 2
    Mississippi Kite – 3
    Sharp-shinned Hawk -3
    Cooper’s Hawk – 4
    Broad-winged Hawk – 5
    Red-shouldered Hawk – 2
    American Kestrel – 1
    Merlin – 1
    Peregrine Falcon – 5

    Although we had some rain last night, the sky was clear by 5am. I heard significantly fewer flight calls into daybreak and at first morning compared to the previous day. I did have new players – a Yellow-throated Warbler making landfall and a Northern Shoveler flyover. A quick stroll through the Thatch Palm forest on the bay-side at Curry Hammock prior to the hawkwatch resulted in few passerines – N. Parula, Prairie Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat – Bobolink flyovers, but not much else. A Chuck-will’s Widow was spooked from a nearby branch. Swallow flights were sparse and also quite high, and well mixed, with less Purple Martins and Barn Swallows, and more Banks and N. Rough-wings.

    It is late, and time to go to sleep. Good night and keep posted!

    Rafael Galvez

    Counters: Jim Eager, Rafael Galvez


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