Saturday, April 27, 2019

Gageo Island, April 26, 2019

Taiga Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla
Blyth’s Pipit Anthus godlewskii
Blyth’s Pipit Anthus godlewskii
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus
Tristram’s Bunting Emberiza tristrami
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva
Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus
Heat-seeking hirundine heap
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica
  My knees were effed today – felt like my legs were slightly different lengths. In spite of crisp northerly winds, birds were moving to where they need to go, with noticeable turnover today, and 81 species logged. It was quite fresh at dawn, with temperatures hovering in the low single digits.
  The cold snap unfortunately resulted in quite a few dead birds, mostly Red-rumped Swallows. I’ve been finding dead birds every day, as I have in past springs, and it reminded me of the hugeness of what migration is, and why I want to be here to witness it. These birds travel massive distances twice a year, running the gauntlet of innumerable fatal threats, just to push their blood into the future. It’s a big deal.
  Notable at the mossy slab today were a Striated Heron, a Chinese Pond Heron, two Pacific Golden Plovers, a Kentish Plover, four Long-toed Stints, a Curlew Sandpiper, a Common Greenshank, and four Wood Sandpipers (two of which decided that Gageo was a good place to copulate). There were two probable Pintail Snipes and a Brown Shrike (singing a Bluethroat-like remix of mimicry) above the quarry.
  Other highlights included a Northern House Martin, two female Citrine Wagtails near the dump and a male on the other side of town, several Richard’s and Blyth’s Pipits (ten species of pipits and wagtails on the day), two male Taiga Flycatchers (with differing intensities of throat colouration) on the west side of 1-Gu, a first Grey-sided Flycatcher of the spring, and ten species of buntings. Several Oriental Turtle Doves have been seen every day – I don’t seem to recall seeing them on Gageo on 2013, but I’ll have to check my notes.
  The day ended with some late afternoon sunshine, which probably saved the lives of some swallows – there were disorderly, exhausted ranks of hirundines sunning themselves on every available horizontal surface in town.

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