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Mount Soledad morning-flights; miscellanea

Mount Soledad morning-flights; miscellanea
By {authorlink} – 10:42 am

It’s that time of year again for the potential for spring morning-flights of landbird migrants at the summit of Mount Soledad in La Jolla. Such flights can be very impressive, provide for an extra ID challenge to birders, and are a great way to witness active migration in action. Particularly good-sized flights at this site can be a bit fickle, and one needs a proper combination of overnight and early-morning weather characteristics for a good morning: mostly clear to partly cloudy skies, a wind flow from between the north and east (or east-southeast), and perhaps warmish dawn temperatures. The season runs from now through about the third week of May. Hundreds of birds can be seen in a single two-hour period starting within a half hour of dawn. I’ll post ‘warning’ of a potentially good morning the day before if the weather looks particularly conducive. Early today there were light easterly winds, so several of us were there, right near (just before) the summit, from 6:40 to 8:00 AM. Totals of clear northbound migrants were only mediocre, but sort of what expects in late March: 14 Western Kingbirds, several swallows, 7 American Robins, 26 Yellow-rumped Warblers, and 1 Black-throated Gray Warbler. Numbers and diversity will improve greatly during April. Peak flights often occur during the last 10 days of April and first 10 days of May, but, again, are very weather dependent. Mid-May is also a great time to look for migrating Black Swifts here, but under quite different (and equally fickle) weather conditions.
Also today, 27 March, the Long-tailed Duck and 4 Snow Geese continue on Mission Bay. Yesterday, I had my first Black-chinned Hummingbird of the season, in Tierrasanta, and a wintering flock of 17 Greater White-fronted Geese continued in the Nestor area, as did the wintering Eurasian Wigeon at the J Street mudflats. On the 25th, a wintering Hermit Warbler continued in Serra Mesa, and continuing male American Redstart and several migrant-arrival Wilson’s Warblers were near Montgomery Field.
Paul Lehman, San Diego