Fall Birding

Spring is the season of explosive bird migration. Like a river in spring flood the lament of neo-tropical birds return. In a frantic flow they pour through our neighborhood, gardens, woods, beaches and marshes. It comes in a breathtaking rush, it then passes through. Exciting days of birding but too short to really savor.

Many birders short-change themselves by not enjoying the special offerings of fall migration. Where spring is a torrent, fall migration is a broad river of birds that are making their annual trek southward. Some shorebirds start their journey as early as July (found no mate). Others are still coming south in November and even December. They poke along, no hurry, as long as the weather is favorable. This steady flow, sometimes a trickle, sometimes a flurry, provides us with an opportunity to be surprised and excited by happenstance, a discovery.

The heat of summer no longer pins us down close to our air conditioners. The days are cooling, a time to be out and about. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Keep your feeds stocked. Keep your Hummingbird feeders full. Spread some seed out for ground feeders also.
  • Especially keep your water sources dripping, misting, and flowing. Fresh water is the ultimate need and magnet for migrants.
  • After heavy rains go to Nimmer's Sod Farm in Hardeeville to catch the arctic migrants, maybe even a Golden Plover.
  • Visit the Mud Flats at Port Royal two hours after low tide. An abundance of shorebirds together with the possibility of migrating hawks could await you.
  • Walk the beach or scan the marshes near your home. This is when Whimbrels and Curlews and other rarer birds are coming through the marsh flats at Pinckney Island just 200 yards from the parking lot on the right are a hot spot for shore birds.
  • Every day I discover a gem at my mister. Warblers, Redstartsl, Hawks, Thrushes, Hummingbirds, Finches, anything is possible. Have the water on, your binoculars at hand and be alert. Even when you are golfing or gardening, keep your binoculars with you. Don't miss that surprise rarity.

We are fortunate to live in the Carolinas where the benign climate encourages birds to linger on their annual north/south migration. It may not be a spring feast but the hors d'oeuvres; of fall are there to savor. Remember to carry your binoculars wherever you go. If you can't see them, you can't enjoy them.

Article By: Barry Lowes