31 March 2009

Gull Skies Above Omaha's Midtown

Beyond the first realization that midtown skies are a major crossing for the daily route of migrant gulls, some more time was taken to watch the flocks in the skies above Happy Hollow and the hills of Dundee.

On the evening of the March 28th, a few thousand birds went past my vantage point at Memorial Park with pleasant and comfortably warm spring weather. Some gathered in kettles of gulls lifted during evening thermals. Large groups would gather and mix for a few minutes where the air was lifting. Then it would occur elsewhere near the neighborhood heights. The birds would soon float towards the east. There were some small flocks going over the UNO campus to the southwest, with the migratory front including the Dundee skies.

A kettle of gulls floating on drafts of air in east-central Omaha. March 28 p.m.

Flying past the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus. March 29 a.m.

During the next day's morning, while the park was quiet beneath clear blue skies marked by contrails from commercial planes, thousand of gulls profoundly moved west without a trace left behind. Many flocks went past along the way during a relatively short interlude of time, with the peak movement about 7:15 a.m.

There are variable patterns of flight in the morning and during the evening. The behavior of the birds was not consistent - except for continual movement towards the east or west - on those occasions when the skies were monitored from some suitable place.

On the March 29 evening, fewer than 25 gulls seen above during the evening interlude at Memorial Park. The scene was tempered by several flocks of moving Cedar Waxwings, as somewhat of a diversion.

Sylphian skies were notable above in the cerulean sky-scape, with patterns subtly changing during an hour's time that finished the weekend with a notably fine sunset presentation.

Birdly Sylphs in the Evening.

A beaked bird in the northern clouds.


Gull winds at sky-beach.

Sky dance of the crane. All images © 2009 James E. Ducey.

With the interlude at the park done due to chilling winds which a hefty tree trunk could not diminish, my bicycling route reached the west side of the Dundee business district, along Underwood Avenue at 51st Street. There were bunches of gulls, just 20 feet or less above the treetops of the urban heights, with several hundred counted in five minutes. And within the last moments of this particular evening, some more flew past, above the tree tops with just enough height to get along to somewhere else in the Missouri Valley.

Subsequent days have had blustery winds with wintery weather with no further observing the gulls across the sky. Gulls went past, but behaved differently in the strong winds, making it not feasible to see them across the skies to an extent to make counts. They are still about as brief glimpses have occurred. Though on Monday evening, at the end of the month, there were more than fifty Turkey Vultures to watch arriving, grouping and then getting into the roost at pines of an estate along Fairacres Road.

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