Saturday, June 6, 2015

2015 Backyard Big Year Update--May

May is typically the month when I drive thousands of miles criss-crossing the county trying to see all the returning breeding birds and the rarer passage migrants as they wing their way north.  But this year is different, so I spent most of the month sitting in my yard.  Waiting.  Hoping.  Praying.  And not seeing as many birds as I wanted, but getting some key tough yard birds needed to make this effort worthwhile!

First off a word about leaves.  Leaves bring insects, and insects bring birds.  That's good and as it should be.  But they also kill my views of the larger neighborhood, putting the kibosh on scoping out migrants at a distance.  That said, a Common Loon flying low over my near neighborhood on 12 May was a much needed tough Code 3 bird for the yard.

Over 30 warbler species stream through my county in May.  But with lots of days with north winds, migration was very poor this year.  I only managed to get 14 warbler species in my yard during the day, and an additional two species by nocturnal flight call on my overnight recordings.  I still have a lot of overnight recordings to review, so there should be some more species on there.  But to show how tough it was this year, I didn't get a single Black-throated Blue in the yard and only singles of Magnolia Warbler and Yellow-rumped Warbler!  Crazy!

A highlight of the month was a Mourning Warbler singing in the side yard.  My recording of the song was enough for the Mourning Warbler Song Mapper program to identify it as coming from the Nova Scotia song dialect population.  Very cool!  (song here)

I'm still expecting to add more species to my overall year list as I go through my overnight recordings--I've already picked up some shorebirds including Least Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, and Spotted Sandpiper.  I'm pretty sure I've got a rare (Code 5) Short-billed Dowitcher recording or two I need to double check before claiming.  So there is more to come.

Meanwhile, as it stands, my 2015 Backyard Big Year List stands at 138 species.  June is expected to be slow, but I'll still be out trying to get my 20 Bird Minimum Daily Requirement and see if I can add a few more species to the list before the southbound migrants start showing up again in late June/early July.

More May highlights and photos at the Backyard Big Year Blog.

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