This past week started with cold (40 degrees), wet weather with strong northeastÂ winds prevailing, all due to a strong low-pressure area that sat over New EnglandÂ for more than a week. As a result, few migrating birds made it into our area onÂ schedule. A few orioles showed us the first week of May, but only the heartiest ofÂ hummingbirds dared venture this far north. A few of the early warblers had madeÂ it here before the miserable weather took over, but there was little movement onceÂ the cold, wet weather was entrenched. Most migrants were âstuckâ furtherÂ south.
Then midweek, the low moved offshore and the winds turned from northeast toÂ southwest, temperatures rose into the seventies and beyond, and the floodgatesÂ opened! Scarlet tanagers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, indigo buntings, and warblersÂ galore came streaming in. So did the reports of hummingbirds as they finallyÂ started showing up at their customerâs feeders. This is the phenomenon thatÂ local birders live for – the few weeks of May when the trees and shrubs come aliveÂ with those wondrous winged migrants, every color of the rainbow.
On my way into work on Wednesday, I swung into the Oak Hill Cemetery in NewburyportÂ for a quick âfixâ of what was likely happening all along the North Shore. As IÂ drove past the gates, I immediately heard warblers singing. Yellow-rump, pine, andÂ black-throated green warblers, plus a least flycatcher and a rose-breasted-grosbeakÂ were in full song. I parked the car and walked a bit, but the flock of birds wasÂ moving away. I drove to the Moseley plot and heard magnolia, black and white, andÂ parula warblers along with a blue-headed vireo singing in the trees above. IÂ searched the trees, but most of the song was coming from the foliage-thick maples.Â
I could see no movement in the sparsely leafed oaks. Â More song came from the back fence area where I could hear scarlet tanagers,Â another rose-breasted grosbeak, and an indigo bunting. But I could see none ofÂ them. The dense foliage also hid the Tennessee, blackpoll, parulas andÂ blackburnian warblers that all were announcing their presence. It was frustratingÂ knowing that I didnât have the time to try to locate any of them.Â
Just as I was ready to leave, Bill and Barbara Drummond drove in and asked if thereÂ were birds in the cemetery. They said they had just come from Plum Island whereÂ the birding was very good, especially the Pines Trail where they found manyÂ warblers and five species of thrushes. I told them about all the birds I wasÂ hearing around the cemetery, but that I had to go to work and I had to leaveÂ finding the birds to them. I glanced at the time and I had 10 minutes to get toÂ work!
Bill and Barbaraâs report about Plum Island didnât…