Date: 5/22/20 8:06 am
From: Chase Davies <rockybirder...>
Subject: Re: [mou-net] Mower County Midge Hatch Musings
I have been noticing that the few migrants I have stopped to observe for a
while seem to have to search longer and farther for food than in past
springs. I realize this is anecdotal, however I wonder if last summer's so
frequent rain events disrupted survival rates of short-lived insects.
Perhaps they were washed from substrates, or at critical times it was too
cold/wet for proper development. Perhaps there is lowered food availability
this season and migrant birds are skipping through or over local areas.
Any thoughts out there? Chase Davies, Roseville

On Wed, May 20, 2020 at 2:08 PM Sid Stivland <norlastiv...> wrote:

> Jason,
> I have seen something like you described. A couple years ago, I was
> birding at a WPA south of Starbuck , Minnesota in Pope County. Like Mower,
> Pope is not a highly birded county. But on that day, also early in the
> year (May/June), there was Mayfly hatch on the large pond/small lake at
> that WPA. There were literally thousands of birds circling that pond. The
> birds were mostly swallow species and Purple Martins, with others mixed in
> - I do not recall the specifics any more but it was quite an impressive
> display. I have not seen a display like it since. I made no effort to
> count them - no one would have believed the numbers even if I tried to
> estimate them.
> Sid Stivland
> Plymouth, MN (and Pope County)
> On Wed, May 20, 2020 at 12:48 PM Jason Caddy <j.caddy...> wrote:
> > I got a lot of responses from my email last night and some very
> > interesting thoughts have arisen. Thank you for everyone who sent me
> > responses.
> > First, I totally agree with Tom Gilde who said that you have to enjoy the
> > moment and not worry about whether something gets accepted or not. Having
> > said that, I still am interested in some of the interesting questions
> still
> > surrounding this sighting. One thing that was obvious about yesterday is
> > that there was an insect hatch going on. These midges that were around
> the
> > treatment ponds were big, about three times the bulk of your average
> > Minnesota mosquito. There is no doubt that the birds were feasting on
> these
> > flying insects. Tami Vogal made a good point that there has been a lot of
> > evidence lately that the insect numbers are down, way down in the US and
> > Europe. If this is the case then maybe these birds were concentrated here
> > out of necessity. Perhaps it's like when there are flooded fields
> > everywhere which makes it harder to find shorebirds because there is so
> > much habitat around. This could be the opposite, the birds were ultra
> > concentrated in this location because of the lack of insects in other
> > locations nearby. One thing I found very interesting was that there were
> > tons of Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers at the sewage ponds but I found
> > none of those two species at Lake Louise SP, an area that had a lot of
> > other warblers around. Why would YR and Palms only be at the sewage
> ponds,
> > and also the four Scarlet Tanagers and the other flycatchers? Is it
> because
> > there weren't enough insects in the forest or is it just random and even
> in
> > the past these species would have been attracted to this insect hatch?
> > I was also thinking how incredibly important these sewage ponds were for
> > these migrants, much like the horseshoe crab feast that Red Knots get on
> > the East Coast, something that bulks the birds up before they head north.
> > With all of the disturbed habitat around the ponds, the ponds are a
> welcome
> > reprieve to birds.
> > Kathrynne Baumtrog pointed out that she wishes I showed photos, just to
> > help document the sighting. I couldn't agree more with this. I usually
> > don't take photos because I am trying to cover a lot of ground but when
> you
> > find something rare it is nice to have a camera with and this particular
> > instance would have been very photogenic and it is something I was
> thinking
> > at the time.
> > Also, Gordon Anderson was wondering why in the heck I decided to bird
> > Mower County. This is actually an important point since some might think
> > that some guy wandering around aimlessly and happening upon some
> incredible
> > migration numbers seems random and perhaps unlikely... I did research the
> > night before and there were some very big migration numbers in Mower
> County
> > reported by others over the last few days on ebird, otherwise I may have
> > tried a different county. I also incorporated information from Kim
> Eckert's
> > book on county birding.
> > Nobody said that they had seen a flycatcher event like the one I observed
> > but Kathrynne Baumtrog pointed out that in the Bob Janssen book there is
> a
> > record of 64 Least Flycatchers in Agassiz in 2009. This shows not to rely
> > too much on the high counts on ebird. I have been trying to get a review
> of
> > a migration event in which I had over 1,700 Eastern Kingbirds fly
> overhead
> > on the east coast of Costa Rica on April 9th, 2019. I have written
> details
> > in Spanish and re-submitted my sighting several times but the reviewer
> will
> > never confirm the sighting. But I did notice that local guides can submit
> > gaudy numbers that are rounded to the nearest thousand with hardly a
> > comment and it will get accepted. I guess that is what reputation can do
> > for you on ebird, and elsewhere for that matter...
> > Cheers,
> > Jason Caddy
> > South Minneapolis
> > <j.caddy...>
> >
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