[Tweeters] LHG-Bellevue, 4/07 - morning passerine fallout?

Pterodroma at aol.com Pterodroma at aol.com
Tue May 7 20:05:08 PDT 2013



The Lake Hills Greenbelt (LHG) walk this morning was quite a spectacle
....at long last, and relatively speaking, as I've been eagerly awaiting and
anticipating such for each of the past 7 days, none of which revealed the
subjects of any significant push or wave of passerine migrants. This
morning, the weather changed, crystal clear all night but just as sunrise was
coming on, the cold marine layer started creeping in. The eastern edge of the
low cloud deck seemed to stop and just hover over the greenbelt corridor,
allowing bright sun from clear eastern skies to pour in for the first hour
or so before spreading further east. During that short window of sun
shining in, small passerines could be seen literally dropping out of the sky
like bullets and pouring through the riparian shrubbery. On a scale of 1 to
10 in comparison to places like Cape May, Pt. Pelee, Gulf Coast, or some
desert oases, the LHG fallout scored maybe a 0.48317, but a big deal
none-the-less considering what we are surrounded by around here, that being all of
western Washington is like one giant "island" of attractive carpeted habitat
unlike focus point migration hot spots elsewhere.

Diversity wasn't great, but those in greatest abundance (double digits)
that were in zeros, ones, and twos yesterday and before were Western
Tanagers, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Warbling Vireos, Wilson's Warblers, Hermit
Thrushes (9!), and to me at least, most surprising and interesting of all,
Golden-crowned Sparrows scattered in little pockets of 5-10-20 throughout the
LHG loop (50+, ALL adults). There hadn't been any GCSPs in the LHG at all
the past few days and I figured they were finally all gone for good. Other
but strictly local LHG FOY's this morning included Osprey, Western
Wood-Pewee, and Yellow Warbler. Anyone else around locally notice or get the sense
of a similar fallout? Clouds or no clouds? Might just the coincidental
timing of the advancing marine deck cloud front this morning and stopping
over the LHG corridor for a short while played a significant roll for what
may have been just a sheer random and local migration moment?

Oh yeah, and that #2 Killdeer nest FINALLY finished the hatching of the
last three eggs, thus three new tiny chicks added to the fledgling brood of
4, the first bird hatching way ahead of the others on 28Apr. Apart from the
early hatching Killdeer, fully 9 days before the rest and a re-nesting
effort after the first nest was found pilfered on Easter Sunday morning
(3/31), this has been an unusually long run at incubation with the second egg
laying about 03Apr, thus 34 days! Normal or average in Washington State is
about 28 (25-30).

And finally, back to Golden-crowned Sparrows again and to add
reinforcement to the notion that today really was a big GCSP movement day, I started
out with a thrilling surprise, 1 adult GCSP in my back side yard
mid-afternoon within minutes of just watering the newly over-seeded small patch of
lawn. Then they kept coming, soon it was 5, then building to 12, and as of
right this moment (8pm), there's 24(!) plus now one equally rare (for my yard)
White-crowned Sparrow, and every single one ALL adults, and they just keep
coming. Not even the usual collection of winter juncos cover the ground
like this! In my 20 years at this Eastgate address, I've probably seen the
sum total of 5 GCSPs ever, usually in the fall or winter, always odd
singles, always immatures, and usually never for more than a one day or one
moment wonder. This outbreak today and right now however are leaving me with a
bit of a moral dilemma since they are hanging around and glued to the newly
over-seeded lawn spot, oh god, scratching out the top soil dressing
(leaving quite a mess on the walk!) and eating up all the seeds. What to do? ...
shooo them away or just let them be and go at it? I'm opting for the
latter; I can always buy more grass seed and redress this tiny little patch of
lawn later after they're gone which will no doubt be soon. Too soon
really, and since adult GCSPs are such handsome critters, I could see
sacrificing this one tiny 10x20 foot lawn patch if it were for Golden-crowned
Sparrows year-round, any time. But, I suspect come sunset, and in just a few
minutes now, this crowd will likely blast out of here, bellies fully loaded,
and off to Canada they will go.

Richard Rowlett
Bellevue (Eastgate), WA


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