14 May 2014 PNW Migration Update

Light variable winds, clear skies and a biological demand to head north.  That’s a great stage for the drama of migration to unfold.  Sit back, relax and enjoy the show.  With the full moon it’s a great time to do some moon watching.

(KATX – Seattle radar is still off line.)

Pacific Northwest Radar: (Click on the links below to open the .gif files in a new window)

14 May Base Reflectivity - Portland (KRTX)

14 May Base Reflectivity – Gray’s Harbor (KLGX)

14 May  Base Reflectivity - Medford (KMAX)

Here is the grand view of the winds aloft from Earth:

14 May Earth: WPD at 850 mb

Here is Paul’s archived National Radar Composite from yesterday. Look at the wind map, and then the radar.

And here are the weather maps (click on any image to bring up a full gallery view)

13 May 2014 PNW Migration Update

The high pressure ridge remains in place.  The winds are light and a bit variable.  Birds are seriously on the move.  Maybe this push will bring those Willow Flies.

KATX is still down: “Message Date:  May 12 2014 14:29:23
THE CAMANO ISLAND RADAR KATX IS EXPECTED TO REMAIN OUT OF SERVICE THROUGH MOST OF TUESDAY. PARTS ARE ON ORDER AND ARE EXPECTED TO ARRIVE TUESDAY.”

We’ll look at Medford (KMAX) in today’s loops.  It’s jamming again.

Pacific Northwest Radar: (Click on the links below to open the .gif files in a new window)

13 May Base Reflectivity - Portland (KRTX)

13 May Base Reflectivity – Gray’s Harbor (KLGX)

13 May  Base Reflectivity - Medford (KMAX)

Today I’m putting the wind map from Earth and a screen grab from the National Composite in the gallery view along with the weather maps. Migration and weather explained in just a couple of pictures. Well, not explained. Perhaps illustrated is a better word.

12 May PNW Migration Update

The high pressure ridge proved a bit more tenacious than i had anticipated.  I took a quick peak at the radar on Sunday morning.  Migration was a happening event at moderate to heavy levels across the region.  And last night, even with less than ideal wind conditions, birds were heavily on the move again.

The radar in Seattle (KATX) is down.  The operators didn’t leave a message on the NOAA hot line so i’m not sure of the future status.  So, we’ll take a look to the south today and put up a loop for Medford (KMAX).  Mainly because the heavy migration through there last night was about as good as it gets in that area.  Yea!  more birds on the way.

Pacific Northwest Radar: (Click on the links below to open the .gif files in a new window)

12 May Base Reflectivity - Portland (KRTX)

12 May Base Reflectivity – Gray’s Harbor (KLGX)

12 May  Base Reflectivity - Medford (KMAX)

Here is the grand view of the winds aloft from Earth:

12 May Earth: WPD at 850 mb

Here is Paul’s archived National Radar Composite from yesterday. Look at the wind map, and then the radar.

And here are the weather maps (click on any image to bring up a full gallery view)

09 May 2014 PNW Migration Update

The low pressure cell has slid down the coast of BC a bit and the winds are now mostly westerlies.  Lots of rain.  Not much migration.  There are always birds trying to pick through and we can see them in the loops and confirm they are most probably birds in the  HC loop.

This is a pretty well organized and slow moving low.  I think we’ll be looking at more rain and north winds for a couple more days.  The rain might let up earlier but the north winds probably wont.  So it’s probably going to slow down the migrants a bit over the weekend.

Pacific Northwest Radar: (Click on the links below to open the .gif files in a new window)

09 May Base Reflectivity - Portland (KRTX)

09 May HC - Portland (KRTX)

Here is the grand view of the winds aloft from Earth:

09 May Earth: WPD at 850 mb

Here is Paul’s archived National Radar Composite from yesterday. Look at the wind map, and then the radar.

And here are the weather maps (click on any image to bring up a full gallery view)

Next update is scheduled for Monday the 12th.

08 May 2014 PNW Migration Update

An advancing low out of the Gulf of Alaska is well organized and pushing some big winds out of the SSW.  Which can only mean one thing for feathered migrants: time to boogie!  “Green Doughnuts” all around – birds are on the move in heavy migration.  Vanguards are being replaced by the bulk of the advance.  This push should bring the first reports of Willow Flycatchers and a better showing of Swainson’s Thrush.

Pacific Northwest Radar: (Click on the links below to open the .gif files in a new window)

08 May Base Reflectivity - Portland (KRTX)

08 May Base Reflectivity – Gray’s Harbor (KLGX)

08 May Base Reflectivity - Seattle (KATX)

Here is the grand view of the winds aloft from Earth:

08 May Earth: WPD at 850 mb

Here is Paul’s archived National Radar Composite from yesterday. Look at the wind map, and then the radar. Again – one look at the Earth Wind map and you just know the Central and Mississippi Flyways are going to be jammed with birds. Wholesale bird soup.

And here are the weather maps (click on any image to bring up a full gallery view)

Migrant Phenology for the Northern Willamette Valley

For the general public eBird appears to be coming the “go to” place for information on avian status and distribution.  Data can be readily accessed in a number of visual formats, raw data can be downloaded, and a geographic area of interest can be targeted.  There are limits to what can be visually displayed.  You can only look at the frequency distributions for five species at a time for example.

When spring rolls around here in the northern hemisphere the topic of phenology directly or indirectly always comes up across the birding centric listservs.  Here in the Pacific Northwest the use of the acronym for “First of Season” – FOS – starts in February with the arrival of Turkey Vultures and doesn’t stop until late May or June with the sightings of Common Nighthawks.

The most visited pages on this website are the Willamette Valley Spring Migration Phenology page and the Fall Migration Phenology page.

In an effort to synthesize the availability of data from eBird and the obvious appetite for phenology information i have put together three documents available for download.  They are listed below and will now have their own page in the head banner section – “eBird Frequency Data”.

The data and images found in these documents all come from eBird.  They are all Microsoft Office documents.  Two Excel spreadsheets and one Word document.  The links take you to my public, cloud based, Google Drive. The spreadsheet display from Google is unreadable so you will want to download the file and view it in Excel. They’re actually not too bad viewed in Google Sheets, but not all formatting is supported. The word document is passably displayed, but is better viewed in Word.

What the data represents — the data is from all observations in the eBird data base for 40 selected migrants for only SIX counties in Oregon, all in the northern Willamette Valley.  They are: Columbia, Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Yamhill, and Marion.  The migrants are ordered in accordance to the current AOU phylogenetic order, not by arrival date. The data contains all observer errors that got past the review process.  So, that Swainson’s Thrush that shows up in the April 8 time slot — well, i’ll let you decide.

This is just data.  If you want a narrative to go along with it: One of the Pacific Northwest’s birding luminaries, David Irons, has put together an excellent narrative: A Spring Migration Phenology for Western Oregon.
David obviously put a lot of time into this work.  It’s well done and worth the read.

The first is the “Migration Frequency Table.  This document is a spreadsheet that has 40 migrants’ frequency of occurrence shown across 48 time periods.  Each month is broken down into the 1st, the 8th, the 15th and the 22nd.  That’s just how eBird does it.  Each month gets four data points.  There are two worksheets in the document.  One has the species as a column on the left and one has them as a row on the top.  Each specie is designated by a six letter code to save space.  These will be intuitively obvious to any regular field observer.  Not everybody will be able to decipher these codes so here is a link to a generator.  Enter the alpha code and it will show you the name of the species.

What is frequency? As eBird defines it: “Frequency” is the percentage of checklists reporting the species within a specified date range and region. This is the most conservative way of displaying the eBird data. For example, when looking at data from across North America we learn that the Yellow Warbler is reported on roughly 25% of checklists during the week starting 15 May. In contrast, the Cassin’s Sparrow is only reported on .1% of checklists from the same region and date range.

You will also find a row or column depending on which tab you are viewing, labeled “Sample Size”.  For all data shown here this represents the number of records, or checklists, found in the eBird data base for each time period sampled.

The second is the “Phenology Data.  This document is a spreadsheet that has the same 40 migrants, each with their own worksheet. In addition to the “frequency” data i have added: “Average Count” and “High Count”.  eBird defines each of these terms as:

“Average Count” is the average number of birds seen on checklists with a positive observation for the species within a specified date range and region. This calculation differs from “Abundance” in that it only incorporates checklists that reported the species (no zeros), essentially telling us how many of each species we can expect to see where the species [is] encountered. For example, starting on the week of 15 Jan we might expect to see about 29 American Crows in areas where the species occurs. This large number indicates the winter flocking behavior of this species. In contrast, starting on the week of 15 May we might expect to see just 3 American Crows where the species occurs. This smaller number indicates the onset of the breeding season when the large flocks break up and disperse to each pairs’ breeding location.

“High Count” is the highest count of a species submitted on a single checklist within a specified date range and region. For example, a high count of 16 Ospreys during the week of 15 Sep indicates the fall migratory peak for this species. By refining the date range to the month level one can see specific high counts for each day.

The third is the “Northern Willamette Valley Frequency Charts.  This is a Word document that has one page for each of the 40 migrants.  On each page is a screen grab of eBird’s Frequency chart.  It is simply a graphical representation of the Frequency data, and looks like this (click on the image to enlarge the view)

All of this data is readily obtained by anybody that visits eBird.  I have simply put it here, all in one place, all downloadable for anyone’s personal use.

Finally here is a direct link to the cloud based Migration Data directory.

 

 

07 May 2014 PNW Migration Update

The ridge of high pressure remains in place.  So do the light NNW winds.  We had decent turnover last night at a moderate pace.

It seems, seems mind you, that Swainson’s Thrush are being reported.  These are vanguard birds with the bulk of them still on their way.  Willow Flycatchers, Red-eyed Vireos, never an abundant species in the PNW, and Common Nighthawks, the last migrant to arrive, are the only neotrops left to be reported.  Western Wood Pewees showed up a couple of days ago.

Pacific Northwest Radar: (Click on the links below to open the .gif files in a new window)

07 May Base Reflectivity - Portland (KRTX)

07 May Base Reflectivity – Gray’s Harbor (KLGX)

07 May Base Reflectivity - Seattle (KATX)

Here is the grand view of the winds aloft from Earth:

07 May Earth: WPD at 850 mb

Here is Paul’s archived National Radar Composite from yesterday. Look at the wind map, and then the radar. One look at the Earth Wind map and you just know the Central and Mississippi Flyways are going to be jammed with birds.

And here are the weather maps (click on any image to bring up a full gallery view)

06 May 2014 PNW Migration Update

As a weak high pressure ridge squeezes in between well organized lows were getting NNW winds.  But not particularly strong.  Just enough to put a damper on full blown flight.  So, the region saw moderate but sustained movement throughout the night.

Before we take a look at the loops and maps, here is an item anyone looking at this blog would be interested in.  One of the Pacific Northwest’s birding luminaries, David Irons, has put together an excellent narrative: A Spring Migration Phenology for Western Oregon.
David obviously put a lot of time into this work.  It’s well done and worth the read.

Pacific Northwest Radar: (Click on the links below to open the .gif files in a new window)

06 May Base Reflectivity - Portland (KRTX)

06 May Base Reflectivity – Gray’s Harbor (KLGX)

06 May Base Reflectivity - Seattle (KATX)

Here is the grand view of the winds aloft from Earth:

06 May Earth: WPD at 850 mb

Here is Paul’s archived National Radar Composite from yesterday. Look at the wind map, and then the radar. All will be revealed.

And here are the weather maps (click on any image to bring up a full gallery view)

05 May 2014 PNW Migration Update

Even with generally favorable South to WSW winds the rains, heavy at times, are dampening widespread migration.  A few brave the weather and try to pick their way north as they dodge the patchwork of storm cells.  There’s really not much going on and the conditions will probably remain the same through tomorrow.

Pacific Northwest Radar: (Click on the links below to open the .gif files in a new window)

05 May Base Reflectivity - Portland (KRTX)

Here is the grand view of the winds aloft from Earth:

05 May Earth: WPD at 850 mb

Here is Paul’s archived National Radar Composite from yesterday. Look at the wind map, and then the radar. All will be revealed.

And here are the weather maps (click on any image to bring up a full gallery view)

02 May 2014 PNW Migration Update

There is a set of perfect conditions in place.  The high pressure ridge is sliding off to the east and a well organized low is just off shore.  At the interface are clear skies and strong south winds.  Migrants are making bank tonight.

In town are: Warbling Vireos, Yellow-breasted Chats, Western Tanagers, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Purple Martins — oh my, it’s like a candy shop out there.  I haven’t checked the listserves yet this morning, but Lazuli’s can’t be far behind.   Swainson’s Thrush are just around the bend as well, possible vanguards have already been reported.  I can already hear the “Wheee Eeer” and “Fitz Bweh” of Pewee’s and Willow  Flies in chambers of my mind.

Pacific Northwest Radar: (Click on the links below to open the .gif files in a new window)

02 May Base Reflectivity - Portland (KRTX)

02 May Base Reflectivity – Gray’s Harbor (KLGX)

02 May Base Reflectivity - Seattle (KATX)

Here is the grand view of the winds aloft from Earth:

02 May Earth: WPD at 850 mb

Here is Paul’s archived National Radar Composite from yesterday. Look at the wind map, and then the radar. All will be revealed.

And here are the weather maps (click on any image to bring up a full gallery view)

Next update is planned for Monday, 05 May.

“birds are coming, look busy” – D.L.