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spring morning flight

It's that time once again, April through mid-May, to find a good site for a post-dawn "morning flight" of passerines. Obviously more difficult to do this year than usual…. But usually the best spots are in foothill and montane canyons, and up on hill-, ridge-, and mountain- tops, and when there's been an overnight breeze/wind from somewhere between the N and ESE (for here in San Diego–would be a slightly different preferred direction, including NW, at a place like Santa Barbara and Ventura where the coast and mountains are oriented differently). The first 90+ minutes after dawn are typically best, sometimes with a bit of a delay of the start time to be maybe 30 minutes after dawn. And just so it's clear, a majority of these birds are fly-by's only, and the remainder perch often only very briefly before continuing on. So, it's easy to "miss" lots of birds and to not be able to identify a good number of them!

These past two days have had favorable night-time breeze directions, but it looks rather less favorable for perhaps the next 5 days. As a result, there has clearly been a push of migrants these past two days here in San Diego and Orange Counties, and presumably elsewhere. Here are my totals from a site I visit, as an example. I would term these numbers "pleasing," but not "high."

April 14 and 15:

Calliope Hummingbird: 1, 0

Vaux's Swift: 2, 0

Olive-sided Flycatcher: 0,1 (arrival)

Western Wood-Pewee: 1, 0 (arrival)

Hammond's Flycatcher: 4, 5 (a good spring for this species region-wide)

Gray Flycatcher: 1, 0 (rare) (yes, it perched!)

Pacific-slope Flycatcher: 8, 3

empid sp.: 4, 5

W. Kingbird: 4, 8

Cassin's Kingbird: 0, 2 (difficult to tell migrants from common residents, but these two birds were high overhead heading N)

Ash-throated Flycatcher: 4, 2

Cassin's Vireo: 1, 0

Warbling Vireo: 6, 8

Nashville Warbler: 8, 18

Orange-crowned Warbler: 10, 12

Townsend's Warbler: 1, 0 (just starting)

Hermit Warbler: 0, 2 (just starting)

Black-thr. Gray Warbler: 3, 43 (today's total one of the all-time highest for the county)

Yellow-rumped Warbler: 4, 8 (just starting)

Wilson's Warbler: 15, 14

Hooded Oriole: 8+ (like the CAKI, typically difficult to tell migrants from local breeders, but these birds were in two higher-flying groups and were all females/young males)

Western Tanager: 2, 2 (just starting)

Lazuli Bunting: 0, 15 (just starting)

migrant passerine sp.: 20, 50

Golden-crowned Sparrow: 5, 7 (staying put; still molting)

In other news, on 14 April the wintering male Eurasian Wigeon was still with the small group of remaining American Wigeons at the San Diego River mouth–somewhat later than usual.

–Paul Lehman, San Diego
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports