The Month In Birds, April 2015

Download Bob Spahn’s Narrative APR 2015 – updated  here.  To report your future records:  When possible, please enter bird lists into eBird or post on geneseebirds.  Otherwise, please send your reports by the 5th of the month to Lynn Bergmeyer, 187 Longridge Avenue, Rochester, NY 14616.

Notes:

  1. The birding picture for April 2015 is especially heavily dominated by weather effects. Generally we saw a return to more comfortable days after the harsh winter, but with typical ups and downs of an April. It was the first month since December 2014 with temperatures above normal – average 47.6°F, 1.3° above normal. Precipitation at 2.70” was just 0.03” below normal. There was rain or snow showers on 13 days, but only 2 days had over ½”, and the snowfall total was only 0.5”, 3.4” below normal. The major effects were in the details. The first warm shot into the 70’s on the 2nd brought a burst of birds and early arrivals. Ten days of seesaw ended with a jump to the first 80° day at 84° on the 13th and another burst of migrants. Then the last third of the month was dominated by a slow moving set of lows with persistently cool and cloudy weather. Adding to the cool blah weather, there was a mass of storms between us and the Gulf Coast for most of the month limiting any movements of migrants from there. Vegetation was more than a week behind toward month’s end. Near the lake it looked like March, and all over blossoming of trees was much delayed.
  2. Virtually all the expected waterfowl were recorded, but with the lakes (other than Ontario), bays, and ponds locked in ice nearly all of March, the bulk of waterfowl seemed to pass right by or to depart early. Few places held numbers of lingering birds after mid-month, and the peak numbers for most species were way below normal, as illustrated in the maxima in the Noteworthy table. From the data, it is still hard to separate low numbers from reduced efforts focused on counts in the face of the cold conditions along the lake. This year there were not even particularly good counts from the NMWMA, even with the Carncross Road area again flooded. In spite of generally low numbers among the loons and grebes, a passing breeding plumaged Pacific Loon at Hamlin Beach and a breeding adult Eared Grebe on Hemlock Lake were highlights.
  3. The hawkwatch was again slow at times, especially later in the month when we look for the big movements of Broad-winged Hawks. There were only five days with totals over 1000 birds and only one really good Broad-wing day. At month’s end the Turkey Vulture total was still well ahead of the Broad-winged total! There were no Black Vultures for the month, but three dark morph Swainson’s Hawks made up for things a bit.
  4. Shorebird variety was low and numbers poor. Highlights were two record early Long-billed Dowitchers found by Dave Tetlow at the Martin Road wet spot and staying for nearly a week to be seen by many and a flock of 17+ passing American Avocets seen by Andy Guthrie at the Hamlin Beach lakewatch. Gull and tern numbers were again unremarkable, yet there were early arrival dates, decent numbers of scarcer winter gulls lingering, and a good number of passing adult Little Gulls. A major surprise, given recent local status, was a Black Tern two weeks record early photographed at the DEC Ponds near Avon.
  5. The owl counting at the “Owl Woods” area on Manitou Beach Road was again very slow this spring. The totals for the month were not far from those of last spring. Still, many had good views of roosting birds. A lone Snowy Owl was spotted late in the month. Short-eared Owl counts by the DEC found birds still present through April 21; watching for potential breeding will continue.
  6.  Given this month’s weather, another slow BBBO banding start was not a surprise. Arriving warblers dropped again this month to only 11 species. Beyond the banding, eBird records showed low counts for nearly all the woodland species we expect to arrive in April. For most there were very few counts above single digits. First arrivals were fairly normal, numbers just not there. As always, it is hard to separate low numbers conclusively from a lack of observers spending time to make counts due to the conditions. There were no really good counts for any of the sparrow species that we often find in the brushy areas in April. A bright spot was good numbers for American Robin and several blackbird species at Hamlin Beach on the 2nd tallied by a group from Cornell Lab. This April about 2/3 of the arrival dates were in the 1st quartile of their arrival date distributions. Three warblers arrived at dates record early relative to their 1983 distributions, but all have been seen at earlier yet dates over the past 30 years. Reinforces the need to update the distributions! The passerine rarity was the region’s 12th Varied Thrush.
  7. Please send your records by the 5th of the month to Lynn Bergmeyer, 107 Longridge Ave., Greece, NY 14616.

Observers:

Jim Adams, Janet Akin, Terri Armata, BBBO (Betsy Brooks, etal.), John Ballou, John Banks, Ted Barnett,  Jessie Barry, Jim Barry, Sue Barth, Doug Beattie, Don Bemont, Linda Clark Benedict, Steven Benedict, Lynn Bergmeyer, Barry Bermudez, Robert Buckert, Bruce Cady, Doug Cameron, Brad Carlson, Jim Cleveland, Kelly Close, Andrew  Consler, Kathleen Dalton, Doug Daniels, Willie D’Anna, Ian Davies, Robert Dobson, Joseph Fell, Wayne Fidler, George Ford, Drew Fowler, Kurt Fox, Cathy Gardner, Andrew Garland, Candy Giles, Charles Goulet, Sheryl Gracewski, Jay Greenberg, William Gruenbaum, Ralph & Georgia Guenther, Michael Gullo, Judy Gurley, Andrew Guthrie, Chris Guthrie, Richard Guthrie, Anita Gwara, Ethan Gyllenhaal, Helen & Chris Haller, Kim Hartquist,  Allison & Jim Healy, Jennalee Holzschuh, Dick Horsey, Bill Howe, Carolyn Jacobs, Nicholas Kachala, Ryan Kayhart, Tom Kerr, Jim Kimball, Kathy Kirsch, Stuart Krasnoff, Elijah Kruger, Tom Lathrop, Leona Lauster, Greg Lawrence, Tim Lenz, Joan Lindberg, Vern Lindberg, Peggy Mabb, Peggy Macres, Mark Magistro, Mary Magistro, Bill Maier, Cynthia Marino, Patricia Martin, Lauri Mattle, Ben McGann, Kevin McGann, Jay McGowan, Bob McGuire, Chita McKinney, Matthew Medler, Jim Miles, Celeste Morien, Brian & Brooke Morse, Allen Nash, Ann Nash,Tom Nash,  Frank Nicoletti, Dave Nutter, Joe Oddi, Sue O’Neil, Michael Palermo, Andrea Patterson, Jay Powell, David Prill, Bill Purcell, Carolyn Ragan, Thomas Riley, Dick & Dorothy Rosche, Dave Robertson, Wade & Melissa Rowley, Jesse Rubenstein, Jennifer Rycenga, Scott Salber, Livia Santana, Michael Scheibel, Kathryn Schneider, Shirley Shaw, David Sibley, Robert & Susan Spahn, Dave Spier, Chris Stanger, Kimberly Sucy, Jim Tarolli, Steve Taylor, David Tetlow, Michael & Joann Tetlow, Rick Thomas, Luke Tiller, Brian Tuttle, Tom & Jeanne Verhulst, Brad Walker, Mike Wasilco, Ann Watson, Bridget Watts, David Wheeler, Joe Wing.

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