Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | October 3, 2020 @ 5:36 pm

Wet with a side of Birdy

Hey migration & birding peeps,

It’s been quite a while since we post on the blog, but we’ve been seeing such a great fall migration in South Florida, that we couldn’t just let it pass us by without covering the action from a meteorological & NEXRAD point of view.

We’ll cut straight to the chase, it’s going to be a wet weekend in South Florida, but birds could also be dripping from trees. A combination of factors are leading up to a stage play we’ve seen before, and if everyone shows up to the stage, we’ll remember the start to October 2020 for a great migration.

Earlier this week a frontal boundary made its way south into the state, temporarily clearing South Florida, and bringing a few nice birds along with it. Down this far south, weak cold fronts often find their way back north, and this front is no different. As the front reversed its path, it dragged some real wet weather along with it. As a result, diversity in migrants encountered by birders, also seems to have picked up a bit in South Florida towards the end of the work week. But the bulk of migrants continue to be held up, awaiting favorable winds north of the region.

Don’t worry though, a second frontal boundary is currently sliding south, causing a shift in winds, and triggering a wave of migrants to head south into Florida. The situation isn’t all that simple though, birds are headed south, but that pesky retreating frontal boundary has crept back into southern Florida. To add some spice to the pot, Tropical Storm Gamma has developed into quite the tropical system and is influencing the entire western Caribbean zone, bringing thick cloud cover and deep tropical moisture into Southern Florida, the Florida Straits and the Gulf of Mexico (setting up a block for migrants). Low-level winds are out of the NE as we write this interp, but will be shifting out of the east as TS Gamma moves towards the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. At higher levels, steering winds are out of the south/southwest, creating a favorable environment for widespread rain over Southern Florida, and also slows movement of storms, which could add to flash flooding concerns.

Migrants seem to like the wave they are currently ridding, and are flying south, but how far south will they likely travel? Winds will be shifting out of the east by the end of the weekend, pushing migrants west towards the interior portions of the state, and costal Western Florida.

Birds that are migrating down the western coast, could be pushed out over the Gulf of Mexico, and will need to reorient during daylight hours, hitting coastal migrant traps in late morning and afternoon hours. Conditions in the Gulf are not conducive for migration.

Birds that are traveling along the east coast, will encounter the wind shift and deteriorating flight conditions. We expect these birds to halt migration once the reach the inclement weather that is developing over South Florida. Radar data from Friday/Sat shows a nice stream of migrants flying along the east coast and over the Atlantic. These birds will have to put down as they encounter inclement weather. Migrant traps from the Space Coast region to the Palm Beaches will likely be the best place to find these birds. As the day continues, birds can continue their migration south, and often do as they forage, but will eventually “stack up” in Southern Florida (Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Lee & Collier Counties) as they await favorable migration conditions.

The soggy weather is likely to slow migrants’ progress, but the thick cloud cover that is forming will halt their migration. Often rain will drop some migrants that choose to not fly into wet weather, but low visibility (thick cloud cover, smoke, sand storm etc.,) will halt migration all together, creating fallout conditions. As conditions worsen over the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Straits and Cuba, birds will be waiting out better weather ahead, before taking the over water migration.

Lookout, a great week of birding could be ahead! Thanks for taking the time to read our take on current meteorological happenings, and how they may affect neotropical bird migration in Southern Florida this weekend, and into next week. We hope to jump back on the saddle, and post more regularly. As always, these interpretations are only as good as the help we receive from the birding community. What you encounter on your bird walk is important to us, it helps us understand what we are interpreting, and if we are reading the radar and weather correctly. Thanks in advance friends!

Nature is Awesome

Angel & Mariel


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