The fall passerine migration is upon us, and Doug Chickering of Groveland shares with us some time he spent on Plum Island this past week:
“I got to Plum Island early this morning, early enough to hear a Whip-poor-will serenading the approaching loom of dawn on the ocean side of the road, by the entrance to the wardens. I arrived early enough to witness the break-up of an impressive egret roost in the Bill Forward Pool. The sun was just illuminating the top of the dike in the back of the pool when I arrived at the new blind.
“The pool was crowded with egrets and already some of them were rising up into the still morning air, in small groups, heading over the dike and out into the wide vastness of the Great Marsh. I did a methodical count and came up with 167 Great Egrets, 59 Snowy Egrets and a single solitary Glossy Ibis. My view was obstructed at two places.
It is certain that there had been many more than what my count revealed. Still it was a spectacular sight. I was also early enough to be the first onto the Hellcat boardwalks just as the morning was forming. It was chilly and windless. The rising sun was just illuminating the upper stories of the trees under a pure blue sky. And almost immediately I began to run into small clusters of passerines. There were not a lot of birds, but compared with the previous month or so it was refreshingly active.
This was not a day to introduce birding to a new and eager student. The birds were hard to see as they went about their business in the thick foliage; usually high up in the trees. It would have been as discouraging to newbie as it was a challenge to experienced birders. When the birds are virtually silent, and when you are first aware of their presence by an anomalous tremor in a branch, there is a special exciting mystery to the bird. No telling what might eventually appear. They drop from branch to branch, or streak across the pathway, or dive into the thick underbrush!