The September 17, 2023, Friends of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve Fall Bird Field Trip was amazing because a rain shower the previous night had caused a group of night-migrating neotropical birds to "fall out." A "fall out" is an unusual event that is exciting for bird watchers. Hundreds of birds were migrating and suddenly they ran into rain and were forced to the ground, leaving hundreds of birds wherever they landed in the dark. The birds seen on the field trip were lucky to land at a migratory stopover in the Lakeshore Nature Preserve.
Jill Feldkamp and Roma Lenehan led the group, looking up at shadowy birds in the trees near the first oak. They proceeded along the Big Oak Trail to the Second Oak and the Biocore Prairie edge and then to the Eagle Heights Gardens. Even in these open areas, warblers were everywhere - in the little oaks and other bushes, the native plants, and even in the non-native grass near the water utility. In addition to warblers, there were many flickers and other larger birds flying around
When not looking at birds, Ingrid Jordon-Thaden, Friends Board Host, explained about autumn seed dispersal of Great St. John’s Wort as well as about Black Knot, a disease found on fruit trees. Participants enjoyed learning about these plants when not watching birds. Several UW grad and undergrad students enjoyed the birds they saw, especially several hummingbirds feeding at cannas. They said that they liked the time outside away from their books and computers.
At least 40 bird species were found. Highlights included good views of flying Redtailed Hawk, Cedar Waxwing, Northern Flicker, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Eight warbler species were seen multiple times by various people including multiple Black-and-white and Palm Warblers. Many Tennessee, Nashville, and Magnolia Warblers flitted everywhere. Four Chipping Sparrows and 2 Lincoln's Sparrows were found in the Eagle Heights Gardens. A couple of very lucky people saw the Merlin, a small swift falcon, fly across the grassland, possibly looking at the many warblers.
The leaders hoped that everyone enjoyed this rare phenomenon which dramatized the abundance of our migrating birds.
Report by Roma Lenehan and Jill Feldkamp, photos by Ingrid Jordon-Thaden.