Date: 1/2/18 10:18 am
From: Larry <oldbirdbum...>

This morning my wife and I enjoyed the Yellow-headed and Red-winged Blackbird morning flight from the Orange Grove Gravel Pit at the west end of Orange Grove Road.

The flight started at 0716 hours. The first wave of 800 birds lasted only 2 minutes. Then, after a 2 minute lull the second wave commenced, lasting also only 2 minutes, but containing an estimated 14,900 birds. The murmuration shapes were fund to watch as the birds joined up, circled and headed north in a long, writhing cloud. The largest single flock (cloud would be a better descriptor) was estimated at 7000 individuals and stretched out for over a mile to the NW. Then there was a second 2 minute lull before the last stragglers (small groups together totaling 1500 birds) left the upper marsh.

As we were walking back to the car, we saw another group of about 1500 birds well to the NW. The whole phenomenon lasted 15 minutes (0716 - 0731) and totaled 17,200 birds from OG Pit and 1500 from the other pit. I think this must be the cement company pit John Williams has posted about. Interestingly we saw no birds coming up from the lower marsh, the one at the bottom of the OG Pit. However, we did see several large groups already formed up and flying north over the river bed. These groups may have been from the lower marsh or from another roost further south. All we could do is include these groups in the OG Pit total. Where would another roost site be up river of Orange Grove Road?

My DEC 12, 2017 visit only had an estimated 11,200 birds, so there are more there now by 6000 birds using the same counter and counting method. I paid more attention to species this time and think the mix was 80/20 in favor of Yellow-headed, compared to my 60/40 guess of DEC 12.

For directions for parking and observation see my 12 DEC post.

Larry L. Norris Tucson, Arizona

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