Monhegan Report No. 5: The Fallout
- Being Human
- Being Outside
- Earth and Sky
- Photography and Optics
- What's This?
From the heavens at dawn came warblers to Monhegan. Even before the sunrise would make them glow, before they found the trees and insects, we heard the yellow-rump’s thin “seep!,” the blackpoll’s high “tzzeet!” and the palm’s rich “sink!” – the flight sounds of a fallout on Monhegan Island. In the dim light of dawn, we stepped outside to sip coffee and listen to our day of birds approaching.
Northwest winds, hard and crisp, those apple cider winds, blew these songbirds off the Maine coast during their nighttime flights south. And when a warbler finds itself out over the Atlantic Ocean, Monhegan is a welcome port.
Yesterday’s fallout brought us rewarding views of hundreds of Blackpoll Warblers, knee-weakening looks at Cape May Warblers (including an adult male), and a smattering of many others. Although this was a fine fallout, its diversity was relatively low. So when we took a break from warblers, we looked to the skies and found hawks and falcons. Lots of them.
The “Monhegan Hawkwatch” on Monday featured long views of Bald Eagles (perhaps 10) hanging like kites overhead throughout the day. Peregrine Falcon, Merlin and American Kestrel zoomed at every turn. Northern Harriers teetered and drifted low overhead. Ospreys angled toward ponds back “in shore” (Monhegan parlance for the mainland). Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks, feisty and flighty, feared not a short ocean crossing.
A day before, when the winds blew from the south, my birding group enjoyed nice views a Parasitic Jaeger (adult) at Lobster Cove. We’re seeing only a few Great Shearwaters here now. Northern Gannet numbers are increasing. And Monhegan is loaded with other gems: Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and Rusty Blackbirds. Tonight the migration sounds will include a Jamboree at the church (the last of the season).
I’ve been too busy simply enjoying birds with my group to have hauled around my camera gear. So rather than feathers, you’ll get last night’s sunset: my shot above from the yard at the Trailing Yew and Heinrich Wurm’s image looking west past Manana from near our comfortable quarters here at Monhegan House.
Welcome winds again this morning. Onward.