Date: 6/29/20 1:29 pm
From: Tom and Lu Wetmore <ttw4...> [plumislandbirds] <plumislandbirds-noreply...>
Subject: [PIBirds] Orchard Orioles, Seaside Sparrow, Alder Fly, Ovenbird
PI Birders,

Those who attended my February talk on the trends in Plum Island birds, will remember I ranked many species in terms of how they are increasing or decreasing. All done with statistics based on the data I've collected over the past umpteen years.

The bird that has increased the most (at over 5% per year) for the past 16 years is the, drum roll please, Orchard Oriole. Probably eight years ago the number of Orchards I would find on the refuge first exceeded the number of Baltimores, and there has been no turning back. I would say that I have now reached a ratio of at about 5 to 1 in favor of Orchards in terms of what I find on a day to day basis. Today was no exception, with 6 Orchards found in contrast to 1 Baltimore. Once the leaves turn out, Orchards are very hard to see. They tend to stay in the taller parts of trees and remain well-hidden behind leaves. Plus they are small birds, considerably smaller than Baltimores. I recommend you spend time studying their songs. It is distinctive and with a little practice you will be able to pick it out against the background.

Today I came across six singing Orchards. The only one I saw was a first year male, because he happened to decide to sing in an small, underleafed tree near the road. Locations were 1 north of the refuge, 1 south of lot one, 1 south of lot two, 2 in the scurves, 1 near north pool overlook, and 1 north of Hellcat.

And after a hiatus of two weeks I had another Seaside Sparrow in song this morning. It was not down in the marsh south of Lot three where all the activity has been this year, but it was singing at the north end of the main pan, probably right along its back side. This is a 'traditional' site for these birds. I was just north of Lois's bench when I heard it. It was too foggy to set up the scope so I did not see it.

The Alder/s was/were still at North Pool Overlook. This is almost definitely a mated pair at a nest. Steve Babbitt has spent considerable time observing these birds, and today the two of us saw one of them come out to feed, and then disappear into the exact spot where Steve has seen them disappear before, and the same spot where he had seen flycatchers carrying nesting material a few weeks ago. I think there has been some suspicion that Alders will sometimes breed on the refuge, but this year I believe it it truly happening.

Finally, Steve Babbitt heard Ovenbirds singing from two locations today, far enough apart in time that they may have been the same bird. Dan Prima heard one also and got a recording. Steve's first was across from the North Field, and the second was north of Goodno. Ovenbird on Plum Island is relatively close to good breeding habitat, so it's not inconceivable that this is a breeding bird also.

Posted by: Tom and Lu Wetmore <ttw4...>


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