24 August 2010

Seasonal Pinnacle of Martins at Midtown Roost

The Monday evening gathering was a completely new phenomenon as a plethora of Purple Martins made for dramatic skies at the midtown roost.

From Carthage, through Dundee and onward there were bunches of these birds in swirls and groups against the blue and gray of their aerial realm.

A fine group of about a dozen watchers were gathered at the roost observation steps. It was an especially fine bunch including the Kovandas, Padelfords, and the martin ambassador, Justin Rink.

Antics of the martins were among the finest ever seen. Words are not enough to describe the scene above and beyond ... ever changing in a dramatic mix ... and hither and yon. All of the birds derived from their provided homes during the summer.

A view of a single scene of the birds' multitude.

A first estimate of the numbers was 50,000. More watching and birdly talk ensued. Topics included local concerns and activities, including the La Platte Bottoms, potential dog run at Hanscom park, Spring Lake Park and what may happen with the pending sewer separation project, and an appreciation for the bird mecca now at the Horseshoe Lake Flats.

The final tally agreed upon by all six birders was an amazing 65,000 Purple Martins which had gathered at the roost. There was one bird strike, where an immature was stunned and unable to fly, so it was moved to a place safer than the drive below the Kiewit-Clarkson walkway.

The bird strike victim.

There was a greater number of martins present on the evening of the 24th. Their behavior was completely unique, including a never-before-seen clinging to the side of the Clarkson tower.

Martins clinging to the south side of Clarkson Tower.

The count estimate was 70,000 birds, with about 22 observers.