Early September update from Turkey Point
It’s hard to believe it’s already the middle of September. Early September was full of new arrivals at Turkey Point, including several exciting rarities and some new additions to the Count. The month started off cool with the winds out of the northeast bringing the first Red-headed Woodpeckers of the season. This is right on time. The first Red-headed sighting of the 2021 season was on August 31st, and the first of the 2022 season was on September 1st. Most migratory species will show some fluctuation in their arrivals each year due to factors such as weather patterns. These fluctuations may vary from a few days to a week or more, but the consistency seen here with Red-headed Woodpeckers is rather unusual. Perhaps it is a mere coincidence, but only time will tell.
On September 4th, two Brown Boobies flew past the Point heading down the Bay together! Three Brown Boobies have been hanging around Baltimore lately, but on that morning (September 4th) only one of them was found. It seems possible that two of the Baltimore birds caught a ride on a barge and rode all the way to Turkey Point that morning before making their way back to Baltimore. Typically a tropical species, Brown Boobies are rapidly expanding their range and within the last several years they have become a regular visitor to the Chesapeake Bay. Following the excitement of the Brown Boobies, the next day (September 5th) a Clay-colored Sparrow showed up – a first for the Count! With their primary range being the Midwest up through Canada, Clay-colored Sparrows are a scarce migrant in much of eastern North America.
While the large flocks of Purple Martins and Bank Swallows seen here in August have now moved on, there are still quite a few insectivores on the move. Various flycatchers were seen here in early September, including Acadian, Least, and Great Crested Flycatchers, as well as Eastern Wood-Pewees and Eastern Kingbirds. These were joined by two flycatcher species new for the Count – Yellow-bellied and Alder Flycatchers! Although found annually in the region during late August and September, Yellow-bellied Flycatchers are always a thrilling find. While Alder Flycatchers breed in western Maryland, they are rarely detected on the Eastern Shore. This is probably related to their virtually identical appearance to the Willow Flycatcher. Luckily, the Alder here at Turkey Point made its identity clear with its distinctive “pip” call.
The 8th produced a fun influx of shorebirds. A flock consisting mostly of Pectoral Sandpipers flew over from the northwest and headed southeast. Along with them was an American Golden-Plover and a White-rumped Sandpiper, the latter being another new species for the Count. Later that same morning Least Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitcher, and Semipalmated Plovers also flew Southeast over the Point.
September 13th brought in a Red-breasted Nuthatch, hopefully the first of many. This is an irruptive species associated with northern pine forests. In years when cone crops are poor, this species will move further south in big numbers in search of food. There are several species of irruptive finches linked to cone crops as well such as Purple Finches, Red Crossbills, Pine Siskins and Evening Grosbeaks. These finches are sometimes seen later in the season, while Red-breasted Nuthatches tend to show up well in advance of the others. This makes them a good indicator of what else the year may bring.
With peak migration now upon us, you never know what may turn up. Don’t forget to check our Trektellen page where you can see live updates of what’s being seen here at Turkey Point each morning, or come see it for yourself!
Thanks for reading!