Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Birds in the Fog

White-crowned Sparrow
We've been plagued with fog here at the Farallons for the past few days.  Fog is bad for business here, and birding is our business.  If birds can't see the island as the sun rises, then there is little hope of them finding it.  Optimally, we would have south winds and high overcast skies.  This way the mainland is not visible from far out at seam, and the island draws in birds from miles around.  When the conditions are right, we can get huge fallouts of migrants – days where literally thousands of birds use the island as a stopover site to forage and build up fat reserves so they can get back to where they really want to be, the mainland.  It is days like those that have the highest chance of a mega rarity.

Today, though, will not be one of those days.  Birding in the haze not only clouds our vision such that seeing birds at a distance becomes more challenging, but also makes birding slow for us.  We expect few birds on days like these, and generally find few as well.  Despite the poor weather, we have been able to turn up a few new arrivals here and there.
Monday we found this damp American Redstart in the company of a Warbling Vireo we banded over a week ago.
Burrowing Owls have finally arrived on the island, and we captured and banded one individual so far.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet at the Lighthouse
Even in the fog yesterday we had many new arrivals and first of fall birds on the island including Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Varied Thrush, Nashville Warbler, and several Lincoln's, Golden-crowned, and White-crowned Sparrows.  All those new birds on a day with bad weather conditions made us wonder what kind of a major wave we could have experienced if the conditions were right.
Lincoln's Sparrow
It has been an amazing year for Red-breasted Nuthatches here.
One of our first Golden-crowned Sparrows of the fall.
Another first of fall bird and arrival in the fog, I found this Varied Thrush late in the day.
Even through the dense fog, this Common Raven is unmistakable.  
Despite the fog, we've had some good birds, but it's time for a wave.  The winds should be very good the next couple nights for a fallout, but if the fog doesn't clear we'll be screwed.  Hopefully the fog will lift tonight so I will have lots to talk about in the next few days.

1 comment:

  1. That varied thrush was supposed to show up at one of our NY sites.