(I can’t live through) The slow moving of the end of migration

It is now June, when spring is rushing to an end, when days are getting longer and longer, birds are singing louder and louder, and migration is becoming thinner and thinner. It is the normal order of things, the usual turning of nature cycles, the end of the great northward rush.

Nonetheless, there are still migrant birds moving through, even though it is more a trickle than a gushing stream. Some years there are quite a few migratory birds to be seen on the Bruce Peninsula at this time, others not so much. It seems that we are in a low spring for late migrants this year. Why? This is the question! 

The last week saw the return of good, mostly calm weather, with some mornings on the cold side of things. Maybe the nice weather allowed the late migrants to keep on moving towards their boreal breeding grounds without really stopping and pleasing us with their presence. As expected, the first Gray-cheeked Thrush (in a net) and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (in our ear…calling!) were detected, both on May 30. This Flycatcher species, breeding in coniferous forests and wooded peatlands in the Boreal and subarctic realms, always arrives at Cabot Head in late May or early June. Indeed, they spend barely over two months on their breeding grounds before heading back south in August.

We call them late migrants but they are right on time! It is simply that they arrive at the end of spring migration season. Another one of them is the Olive-sided Flycatcher, with one seen on June 1: they are usually more often heard than seen.

Cedar Waxwings are not considered late migrants but at Cabot Head they usually appear in late May, with the first ones detected this year on May20. There have been very few observations since and in small numbers this spring. 

Migration is certainly slow for now but there is still so much to enjoy: watching every morning the male Magnolia Warbler singing his little heart out on the same birch twig at the same time; enjoying the sunrise over the bay and… was that a loon diving? No, it actually was an otter, swimming and diving with the rising sun as a background; playing hide and seek with the Great Crested Flycatcher. Its loud and unmistakable call lets you know that it is very close but perching high in the canopy makes it a fun challenge to see the lemony yellow of its belly. I definitely can live in the slow moving of the end of migration after all!

There are still eight days of monitoring to detect and catch the very last migrants! Stay tuned!