Wednesday, May 23, 2018

22 May 2018: Green Big Day report!

I finally made it out on my Green Big Day around La Crosse County! Big Days are all about the numbers, so here they are:

Species observed: 123
Miles biked: 65
Miles walked: 3 (approx)
Total hours: 17

That's right: One hundred and twenty-three species! I thought I would be lucky to break 100, now that migration is essentially over. But I got even luckier than I'd hoped with a few random flyovers, some late waterfowl, a few lingering migrant warblers (Northern Waterthrush, Blackpoll, Tennessee, Canada), a surprise Barred Owl (I've had little luck with owls around here), and success with nearly every species that I was specifically targeting but could have just as easily missed. Many species were represented by only one or two individuals, and if I'd happened to miss most of those, my list would have been a whole lot shorter no matter how many miles I biked.

By far the best bird of the day was a Connecticut Warbler - which was #200 for the year AND a lifer, and flagged as rare in eBird. This was a bike-by bird that I never would have found if I'd been driving. I was biking between locations on a moderately busy road, thinking about keeping to my schedule and not getting run over by impatient morning commuters. I wasn't consciously listening to the birds at that moment, but something caught my attention as "different". It was a rollicking song, lower and richer than the average Common Yellowthroat, but I wasn't hearing it well over the traffic noise, and you never know with all the variation shown by warblers. My initial thought was that perhaps it could be a Carolina Wren, which would be a good addition for the day. The bird happened to be singing near an empty parking lot, so I pulled in and headed toward the bird. As I got closer, I thought hmmmmm.... that sounds rather like a Connecticut Warbler! I'd studied their song because I knew there was a chance I'd find one this spring. After a few minutes, the bird emerged into unobstructed view and I got excellent looks through my binoculars as it sang twice. No doubt on that ID! Hooray! 

If I'd been driving, I also would have missed the Eurasian Collared-Dove, which was singing in a town where I haven't previously observed them. That species is becoming well established here but can be hard to find. There were several other species that I heard in passing from my bike, but those conceivably could have been staked out by a driving birder (e.g. American Woodcock occurs predictably in some spots). Still, being able to listen the entire time I'm traveling is a definite plus in favor of bike-birding.

Putting on some miles definitely helped to blow my total from last year's Green Big Day (110) out of the water - and last year I'd birded at the peak of spring migration! This year I was trying to hit as many different breeding habitats as I could. I left at 4am and biked mostly in the dark, picking up my only American Woodcock, Barred Owl, and Savannah Sparrows for the day on the way, to Coulee Experimental Forest. I arrived at dawn, but the cloud and fog and foliage meant that I identified everything by sound even after the sun was up. The only seen-only species was a random flyover Black-crowned Night-Heron!

Foggy morning at the bottom of Coulee Experimental Forest
Coulee Experimental Forest

There's a Hooded Warbler singing up there somewhere...
He was a lifer when I heard him last year, but I've still
never seen him!
Coulee Experimental Forest hosts a number of local specialties that I thought I wouldn't have been able to find anywhere else. I got most of them this morning: Ruffed Grouse, Blue-winged Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Mourning Warbler, and Acadian Flycatcher. (I ended up seeing another Mourning Warbler at another stop, which was a big surprise.) I had hoped to also find Cerulean Warbler here, but there might be only one individual in the whole forest, and he wasn't singing at that time. Common Raven and Red Crossbill were long shots and didn't show either, but I wasn't counting on them. In addition to those specialties, the Experimental Forest is a good place to find most of our local forest species, and I checked off most of what I hoped to find in the two hours I was there (44 species in total). Olive-sided Flycatcher (#199) provided a new addition to the year list (the Connecticut Warbler was on the way back from this spot).

The big disadvantage is that the Experimental Forest is a good distance from anywhere else I wanted to bird: 13 miles each way, which nearly doubled my planned mileage for the day, and was mostly a time sink. During migration, that time might be better spent scouring local places for sparse species to add to the list. However, I heard a number of species on my way there and back, including three that I never found anywhere else, and I think it was a worthwhile trip given that I was targeting breeders this year.

My next stop, after picking up Eurasian Collared-Dove and that awesome Connecticut Warbler en route, was Myrick Marsh - a hotspot with high diversity. I arrived just before 9am, and while the fog had lifted, it was still overcast and cool, which I think helped encourage the birds to keep singing well. I had a total of 57 species there, including 34 that were new for the day. Highlights included surprise Gray-cheeked Thrush and Lincoln's Sparrow - I thought they all would have moved on by now - and an Alder Flycatcher that I had worried I might miss for the day. 

Tree-lined trails through Myrick Marsh help add to the habitat diversity there.
I think there are three species of turtles here, but alas, they don't count on the list!
I'd originally planned to move on to Hixon Forest after this, but I'd done so well with forest birds at the Experimental Forest that I decided to skip it. I spent a little extra time at Myrick Marsh instead and made a couple of minor changes to the remainder of my schedule. First, I made a quick stop at home to grab my scope and refill food and water. Biking 65 miles takes a whole lot of fuel, and while I may not be burning fossil fuels, I definitely need calories to burn. I have a hard time eating enough on days like this - it's bad enough when I'm only out for a ride, but when I'm also birding, I'm really prone to neglecting to eat enough. That sets me up to crash hard. Today I was frequently hungry, which meant I wasn't keeping up with my calorie intake, but I never crashed so I guess it worked out. Eating small amounts frequently is key, as I can't stomach much food at one time while I'm biking. Similarly, foods that are quick and effortless are ideal. I make a homemade energy gel that's good, but I need to expand my repertoire of savory recipes, because there's only so much sugar that I want to eat, even though I have a serious sweet tooth (suggestions, anyone?). I did manage to stay hydrated today, though, which is also a challenge for me.

Anyway, I refilled on all those foods and headed up to Halfway Creek Marsh. That's where the White-faced Ibis has been hanging out, but it didn't show today. However, that marsh holds a number of specialties - especially because Myrick Marsh is more like a lake right now with all the flooding and is missing species that are normally there - and I added 16 to the day list, including one FOGY (Sedge Wren for #201). Three species of shorebirds were an unexpected surprise: one individual each of Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpiper, and Spotted Sandpiper. With the incidental species recorded en route thus far, that put me very close to 100! I knew my last two stops of the day would reliably add several species, so it looked like I was going to achieve my goal despite my pessimism.

I wasn't counting on finding a Green Heron today, but this one was right out in the open and feeding actively.

Willow Flycatcher. Yes, I heard it call! I'd already heard one this morning for the list, but seeing one is nice too.

The overcast day didn't make for splendid photos, and mostly I was trying to make time rather than images - but I couldn't resist this handsome Common Yellowthroat.

But a couple of stops in the meantime proved surprisingly fruitful. First I headed down to an overlook to scope Lake Onalaska, where I didn't expect to find much. The American White Pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants were there, as I'd hoped - but there were also a pair of Lesser Scaup, a lone Bufflehead, and an immature Common Loon - all of which had been essentially absent for a couple of weeks and were not even on my radar. Three bonus species for the day!

Then I decided to make another unscheduled check for the White-faced Ibis. I biked up a bike trail to the back side of Halfway Creek Marsh, where there's a viewing area with a bench. This was another time when bike-birding was helpful; walking up the trail would have taken much longer without yielding much, if anything, en route. The ibis wasn't there, but I was doing well on time, and in fact wanted to delay a bit so that I reached my next stop closer to prime birding hours, so I sat down for a snack/tally break. The Northern Shovelers, Blue-winged Teal, and American Coots were still present in the back of the marsh, adding three more species that I could have easily missed today. I scanned again a minute later to check for the ibis, and I was shocked to see a Northern Pintail among the other ducks - I hadn't seen a pintail for weeks, and they are always sparse here. Then a Peregrine Falcon flew over - I've seen them in this area a couple of times, but definitely not in any reliable way - followed soon thereafter by a late Bonaparte's Gull! All in the space of five very lucky minutes. My running tally was a little off then, because so many species I'd seen weren't even on my master checklist (I was also writing down everything I saw at each location to submit to eBird, but the master checklist was supposed to serve to keep a running total) - but one of those birds brought me to 110, tying my tally from last year, and there were still 5 hours of daylight left!

By then I'd biked about 40 miles and I was starting to feel tired. With my goal achieved, the thought crossed my mind that I could just go home... but of course I wanted to see how many more species I could eke out of the day. I biked another 8 miles to the next stop, Seven Bridges Trail, which heads into a hardwood swamp. My main target there was Prothonotary Warbler, and there was a chance (albeit small) at Red-shouldered Hawk. I walked in about half a mile before the bugs were too annoying and I'd lost hope that a Prothonotary would show... but then on my way back out, I heard two and saw one, which even did the warbler version of posing for a few quick photos.

Prothonotary Warbler between Bridges 2 and 3.
No Red-shouldered Hawk, but that wasn't a big surprise. I pedaled gratefully out of the clouds of mosquitoes - today was the first buggy day of the year - and moved on to New Amsterdam Grasslands, which is protected and managed by the Mississippi Valley Conservancy. 

New Amsterdam Grasslands
I'd hoped to find the Henslow's Sparrows that had recently been reported here, but I didn't hear them, so I soon moved on to a nearby grassland with higher diversity. Holland Sand Prairie was the last stop of the day. The sun finally emerged from the cloud cover then - I definitely hadn't missed it glaring into my eyes all day, but the sunshine helped renew my energy for the 1.3-mile walk around the perimeter of the property. The two grassland areas added 8 species to the day list; I hadn't visited those areas on my Big Day last year, but I knew that adding them would pay off. Bell's Vireo and Grasshopper Sparrow were FOGYs, putting me at 203 for the green year list.

My day job involves research on monarch butterflies, so it was fun to see several flitting around Holland Sand Prairie, where there's lots of milkweed. And poison ivy. And ticks. But also Bell's Vireos, which are otherwise rare here (and refused to emerge for photos).
The last bird of the day was a Common Nighthawk on the 9-mile ride home. I arrived home at dusk, feeling tired but not totally exhausted, and definitely exhilarated from a shockingly successful Green Big Day!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

17-20 May 2018: Third time's the charm?

I did not end up doing my Big Day last Thursday - my poor cat, Merlin, got a secondary infection, so I was at the vet that morning instead of birding. Merlin is doing well now, and hopefully he's genuinely on the road to recovery. Meanwhile, he's getting a little bit spoiled, with extra snuggles, treats, and walks on his harness in the back yard while I keep a close eye on him.

A Merlin is always appropriate for a birding blog... right?
Assuming Merlin continues to do well, I've rescheduled my Green Big Day for Tuesday. I've completely changed my route and schedule for the day, because we're pretty well out of spring migration now - I noticed a real lack of migrants on Saturday when I had an hour to bird before a conference here in town. So, I'll be biking more miles to reach a greater variety of breeding habitats, and spending less time at each spot because I won't be scouring every tree for migrants that occur in low numbers. I'll also be relying heavily on my ears, as the trees are well leafed out and I'll hear many more birds than I will see. It'll be a fun challenge - but definitely a challenge - to try to crack 100 species.

Palm Warblers are super-abundant here during songbird migration - they become almost as annoying to pick through as Yellow-rumped Warblers. I saw zero Palm Warblers this weekend, which is a good indication that migration is just about over.

Meanwhile, I haven't been birding a whole lot in the past few days, but added Willow (#197) and Alder (#198) flycatchers along the way. They both arrived much later this year than last year. The Alder Flycatcher was heard-only, repeatedly giving its "rrreeeaaa" call, which was new to me - it was definitely nice to be able to browse through flycatcher calls on my smartphone right then and there to clinch the ID. There are a few new species that I can reasonably expect to find on Tuesday, so I should be at 200 very soon! 

Less birding means less biking, and my legs have definitely appreciated the break. I biked 10-40 miles almost every day for the first half of May, and while most days were only 15-25 miles, I really notice how exhausted I get when I don't take time to rest. It helps when I make a point to add more protein to my vegetarian-approaching-vegan diet, but recovery time is still necessary. Lack of sleep was not helping either! I feel pretty well recovered now, which is definitely good because I'm planning to bike 60 miles and walk 6-8 more for my Green Big Day!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

5-16 May 2018: WARBLERS! IBIS! And a change of plans.

Hello, warblers! So many warblers everywhere! We've had excellent, sustained songbird migration for the past two weeks. Pretty much every day has seen lots of bird activity and, thus, little blogging...

I've added 36 species to my year list and biked about 170 miles (not counting commuting) since I last wrote 12 days ago. FOGY #200 is coming up quickly now!

Despite all my enthusiasm about the warblers, by far the best (rarest) bird was a White-faced Ibis (#166) that I came across on May 6th. Even more remarkable is that it's STILL here 10 days later! Many other local birders have been able to see it, though it ducks in and out of the viewable area of Halfway Creek Marsh. Thus far I have gotten only a horrible photo at midday with tons of thermal distortion, BUT you can tell it's an ibis, anyway! When I first saw it, I had a clear view of the face for a few minutes before it flew away, so I was able to ID it as a White-faced based on the red facial skin where a Glossy would be blueish (they both actually have white on the face, though White-faced has more). I was relieved to relocate it and get SOME kind of photo later that day so I could demonstrate that yes, it really was an ibis. Other birders have since gotten photos that are identifiable to species. The last White-faced Ibis in La Crosse was several years ago, but there have been multiple individuals sighted across Wisconsin this spring. Most of the others, however, have only been present for a day or two before moving on. Our bird flies well and has been feeding in a marsh that is popular with egrets and herons (thus presumably getting plenty of food), so hopefully it is choosing to stay here rather than being stuck here.

Other notable birds have included two gorgeous lifers: Canada Warbler (#182) and Mourning Warbler (#189). My first Canada Warbler was a silent, tailless individual that I spotted during one of the local Audubon walks (but maybe it only counted as 3/4ths of a lifer with no tail!), and I was thrilled to see and hear a few more today. The Mourning Warbler was also silent and a chance encounter as it hopped across the trail, and I picked up several other unusual-for-the-area (but fairly reliable at that spot) species on the same trip to Coulee Experimental Forest.

I've had two days with 22 species of warblers - a different suite of species each time, with a total of 28 warbler species for the year so far. We're seeing unusually good numbers of Cape May Warblers (#162) this year, which is a treat - last year I had only one, on a gray drizzly day, and it was a lifer for me then. This year they're posing all over the place.

Of course, "posing" is a relative term for a warbler. I compiled this typical set of a Blackburnian Warbler (#172) after a frustrating attempt at a decent photo:

But of course, this year my goal is to see/hear as many species as possible - and spending too much time photographing will take time away from building my year list. Some other year I might focus on getting decent photos. For now, I'm just happy if I can get identifiable documentation of unusual birds, like this first-year Black-crowned Night Heron that showed up today. I already had that species on my list after I saw two adults in exactly the same spot, but it's one I easily could have missed this year.

Amongst the warbler and wading-bird madness, we've had a dire lack of shorebirds. Apparently I got spoiled last year, when shorebird numbers were low but diversity was high and constantly turning over in a muddy farm field just 5 miles from my house. A very active local birder told me that last year was the best shorebird year he's seen in 25 years here! So... I might need to give up on local shorebirding for this year, which is sad, because shorebirds are my favorite. A trip to another part of the state for fall migration (late July/early August) might be in order. For you Wisconsin birders: If you were to choose anywhere in the state for fall shorebird migration, where would you go? 

Finally, a quick note on a change of plans. My last post outlined my big plans for a Green Big Day in Trempealeau County that would involve camping nearby before and after. A couple of days before I was going to go, my cat had a medical emergency, so I will not be doing any overnight trips this week. He's recovering well, but I'll feel much better if I'm around to keep an eye on him. Instead, I'll do my Green Big Day around home in La Crosse County, attempting to beat my total of 110 species from last year. It'll still be a great day, with even more detailed strategizing because I'll be visiting all of my favorite local hotspots, and you can still support my Birdathon adventure and the Bird Protection Fund. The big day will be tomorrow (assuming no further emergencies), so stay tuned for a full report after I recover from what is sure to be an exhausting day!

Friday, May 4, 2018

4 May 2018: Recap and Green Big Day planning

Rest days are important! They mean that I will be able to keep biking and birding intensively. We got a lot of rain overnight, pretty much from dusk til dawn, so there probably wasn't a lot of bird movement. So it was a good day for a rest day.

I took the opportunity to crunch some numbers. Here's what 2018 has looked like so far:
The last week has brought a real change in the rates of accumulation of species, miles (includes biking to/from birding areas as well as travel while birding), and birding hours, though the change in the last is hard to see on this scale.

Then I thought I'd see how this year compares to last year, when I was also bike-birding enthusiastically. I didn't track my miles or hours then, but all my checklists are in eBird, so it's easy to pull my two year lists and compare the number of species accumulated by each day of the year:

In 2017, I was birding less intensively early in the year than I did this year. Lake Onalaska (our local chunk of the Mississippi River) started thawing earlier, and once it thawed, the weather stayed warm. In contrast, this year the thaw stalled for a while and then we had a few periods of late snow. Last spring, north winds were very frustrating early in the period of what should have been peak migration, and the species only trickled in until the winds switched. This year we've had a good mix of winds, but it stayed cold later, meaning the insectivores were in no rush to get here. When the winds switched to the south early this week, temperatures soared (high of 60 one day to high of 80 the next!) and the species flooded in, with normally early and late migrants arriving together. I added 41 species to my year list from Monday through Thursday of this week!

Once we consider the vagaries of the weather, it seems like my list for this year is fairly well on par with my list around the same time last year. That's a little disappointing, because I wanted this year to be bigger! But last year I was also actively birding during spring migration, and accumulated a very good list for the county. This year, the main difference will show when I take longer trips to different parts of the state (health and weather allowing - my intended early spring trip was already scrapped when it kept snowing!). In 2017, my year list plateaued at 199 at the end of spring migration and stayed there until the fall, when I picked up a few more species and ended with 213. This year, I hope to keep growing the list, at least in fits and starts, through the summer and fall with multi-day adventures. I've also had several good species that I never found last year, including Hoary Redpoll, Iceland Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, and Red-necked Grebe, so that bodes well for the year-end total - though I might well miss a couple that I found last year.

Each year, I like to do a Green Big Day during the peak of bird diversity in spring, when many local breeders have arrived but northern migrants are still moving through. Last year, I did mine on May 12th in La Crosse County. I ended the day with 110 species, 39 miles biked, and 5 miles walked. My strategy was to maximize diversity per mile - Big Days typically involve trying to reach as many different habitats as possible, but there were only so many habitats I could reach in one day on a bike in my home county. I was pleased with my total, which beat my previous Green Big Day in Manhattan, Kansas by one whole species!

This year, I've joined the Great Wisconsin Birdathon to help raise donations for the Wisconsin Bird Protection Fund with my Green Big Day, in addition to a year-end donation that I've pledged to make based on what I see this year. The Bird Protection Fund benefits a number of high-priority projects that are selected each year based on their conservation value. Donations to the fund go directly to protecting key species, including endangered Whooping Cranes and Kirtland's Warblers, and funding important initiatives like Bird City Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas. See the Bird Protection Fund website for details on those projects.

The Birdathon is like a walkathon, except you have a target number of species instead of a target distance or time to walk. Donations can be made as either a flat amount or a per-species amount. I'll be doing my Green Big Day in mid May in Trempealeau County. If you're interested and able to donate, I would be thrilled to have your support, and every dollar will go directly to the Bird Protection Fund.

For my Green Big Day this year, I'm planning big changes! A perusal of eBird data suggested that I can dramatically improve my species count by doing my big day in Trempealeau County, just to the north, instead of from home. Based on the frequencies of occurrence on eBird checklists (e.g. Species A is reported on 5% of checklists submitted during the second week of May), I might realistically be able to get 140 species - improving on last year by a whopping 30! I've set my Birdathon target a little lower, at 125, which I might be able to reach even if nothing goes as planned. I'm guessing that shorebirds will be the easiest group to miss, as habitat for them is sparse and dependent on receiving enough rain to flood some farm fields. 

The area I'll bird is 20-30 miles from home, and there's no way I'll have the energy to bike there and back AND do a Big Day all in one day. Luckily there's a very convenient campground in my target area, at Perrot State Park. I'll bike up the day before and camp overnight. The next day I'll be able to cover all of the major habitat types of this region over about 60 miles of biking. The State Park has excellent upland and bottomland forest; an agricultural area to the north offers various open habitats, some potentially flooded fields for shorebirds, and some stands of pine; and Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge has marsh, open water, prairie, and shrubland, along with some younger stands of forest. I'll camp again that night, hopefully picking up some nocturnal species at the same time, and bike home the next day.

So, when's the Big Day? Timing is crucial. I used eBird data to see when diversity peaks in Trempealeau County:

In the above plot, the number of species recorded in eBird is shown for each week of the year. Each line shows the number of species recorded on some proportion of the checklists submitted that week. Weeks with <50 checklists are not considered because I wanted decent sample sizes, so 0 species are shown for those weeks.

My best guess is that species recorded on 5% of checklists would be potentially feasible to get during a Big Day. As it turned out, my total of 110 last year closely matched the number recorded on 5% of checklists in La Crosse for the second week of May. (The species list did not match exactly, but that's still a good ballpark for the number I might expect to find.) So if we look at the blue line (second from bottom), we can see that it peaks at 141 during the second week of May (I put a dotted line at the first week of May for reference), with the third week being a close runner-up (136 species). So I'm targeting May ~10-16th for my Big Day. I'll choose the exact day based on the weather forecast - the Big Day should be fairly calm and dry, and I'd prefer biking conditions to be reasonable the day before and after. Early in that period, south winds the night before would be helpful to bring in some new migrants.

Many Big Days involve intensive scouting, with birders going so far as to mark the territories of individual birds that they plan to use to check off a species. But here, I'll have many migrants on my list, and scouting would not be very helpful when turnover is so high. Regardless, I will likely not have a chance bird Trempealeau again before the Big Day - there's too much birding to be done! I don't want to sacrifice my year list for the sake of a Big Day list. But I've birded there several times in the past and have a very good idea of exactly where I want to go. I'll also have a chance to do a little scouting the previous afternoon/evening after I arrive, although I'll probably mostly use that for logistical purposes, such as scoping out where I can park my bike near the trail I plan to walk at dawn.

That's the plan - we'll see what happens! Stay tuned, and if you're keen to take this opportunity to donate to a good cause, you can help spur me on to dredge up as many species as I possibly can on my Green Big Day!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

1 May 2018: Red-necked Grebe!! and Willets!

Several days ago, a Red-necked Grebe was reported near my office. The report wasn't submitted until about 24 hrs after the fact, on a Saturday, so I wasn't at the office. I'd already biked over 20 miles that day with nary a FOGY to be found, and I wasn't keen on another potentially fruitless 18-mile ride on the off chance that the grebe had stuck around for a full day. So I didn't chase it. Yeah, I know... if you're doing a big year, you're supposed to chase EVERYthing... but I wouldn't be a very effective green birder if I were completely exhausted. =) Balance is important, and I was willing to accept that I might not see a Red-necked Grebe here this year - especially because I knew I might have the option of stopping at one of its breeding sites later in the year, so all hope might not be lost.

I would have looked for it, just in case, on Monday if I'd gone in to work then - but I took the day off for birding, and did not go anywhere near the office. BUT someone else checked that day, and the grebe was still there! So I biked over early to check it out before work today.

Before I got there, I was thrilled to see a flock of 15 Willets (#136) flush up from the shoreline!

Last year, only one Willet was ever seen in La Crosse County. It's not flagged as rare in eBird, but a number of local birders went looking for that bird, so I knew it was fairly special (I got to see it, too). A surprise encounter with FIFTEEN today was pretty neat. The light was dim - it was only 6:15am - but I still had fun attempting to photograph them. Plus, that wing pattern is so cool.

Much more drab when on the ground.
Eventually I continued on toward the end of the road where the grebe had been lurking. Meanwhile I was birding, of course, but not super intensively, because the grebe was the goal. But I still encountered five other FOGYs on the way! There was another big migratory push last night, with many new species around. 

Finally I reached the end of the road. A quick scan of the small bay revealed only a Pied-billed Grebe, so I started walking back along the shore on a dirt track. Then, all of a sudden, there was a Red-necked Grebe (#141) right next to me!

New bird for the year, my patches (both 5MR and 7.5MR!), and my county and state lists. Local birds are definitely the best kinds of birds for a self-powered Big Year! Red-necked Grebes are flagged as rare in eBird for La Crosse County; they breed farther north in small numbers, but typically aren't seen here. I guess this bird has been hanging out here because there's still 2 feet of ice on its breeding grounds. 

We'll happily host it for as long as it wants to stay. What a beauty!

Now we're having thunderstorms that are expected to continue overnight. Depending on the exact timing of storms, that could either prevent migration for the night, or potentially create fallout conditions. If the latter, I'll definitely do some birding in the morning! At this rate, #150 is approaching quickly...