Date: 11/17/20 8:43 am
From: Dave Nutter <nutter.dave...>
Subject: [cayugabirds-l] Loon migration tomorrow?
Yesterday I saw 34 Common Loons on the southern part of Cayuga Lake. I was scoping from the lakeshore at Allan H Treman State Marine Park, and with air temperatures in the 40s - close to the water temperature, there was not much distortion, so I was able to discern the heads of loons pretty far north. All but one of the loons were farther north than a feeding flock of 100 Common Mergansers, so the loons were by no means crowding Treman and Stewart Parks, nor hungry enough to compete for whatever attracted the attention of the smaller Common Mergansers. Still, I think 34 Common Loons is a significant presence. I figure it means that either the remaining loons on the lake are numerous enough to simply spread this far south, or that they are nudging southward in anticipation of migration. At any rate they haven’t all left, and it’s getting toward the season - the 3rd week of November - when we see big loon migration events, according to eBird records (which are unavailable for the next 2 days due to eBird data housekeeping).

There was definite loon flight and migration on November 2nd and the 12th, although not as numerous as some hoped. The conditions have mostly continued to argue against migration, with either calm, or winds from the south, or precipitation. This morning there was snow in the air. That unhelpful pattern will continue through Sunday the 22nd, which is as far as the NWS hourly weather graph ventures to predict, with the possible exception of tomorrow.

Tonight temperatures are predicted to fall below freezing, and the chance of snow is over 60% in the middle of the night, or about 2 to 1 in favor of precipitation. I figure that such wintry weather should get the attention of loons and remind them that migration is a good idea. The winds will be from the NW (ideal), and by dawn about 11 mph (good) and rising (better), but the chance of precipitation will be dropping through 30% (2 to 1 against precipitation). Whether we will have enough of a break in any snowfall early enough for the loons to decide it’s a good day to migrate is still “up in the air” (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Even if they take off, there’s the matter of cloud ceiling, for which I have no information, although I’m sure other folks do. Loons might leave Cayuga Lake and head up the valley but have to turn back if the valley is ultimately blocked by clouds. That would mean we get to see them 3 times, as they try going south, get turned back, and try again another day.

Anyway, it looks to me like tomorrow morning (Wednesday 18 November) is the best chance of loon migration for awhile. While the following days all have much less chance of precipitation, the winds will argue against migration: On Thursday, Friday, and Sunday at daybreak the winds are predicted to be about 10mph from S, SW, and S respectively. On Saturday the wind should be lighter but from the W, which is also not helpful.

So anyway, I intend to be watching for airborne loons again tomorrow, and I hope others will, too. If anyone else has ideas about the chance of loon migration tomorrow - or any other day - I welcome hearing other analyses. Also, I have only looked at weather, in my limited way, for Cayuga Lake, not Lake Ontario.

- - Dave Nutter

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