The transition from the Summer Seabird breeding season to the Fall migration period always comes during the second half of August. With the field crew change, so too do changes come over the Island. The breeding birds are finishing up their nesting activity, while seal pups born in June and July are quickly gaining weight. The alternating days of wind and sun and socked-in fog that generally characterize the summer season start to give way to calmer weather and high overcast typical of fall. Northern-breeding species of birds have begun their southbound migration; many stop off to visit the Farallones on their way to warmer wintering grounds.
The fall migration crew this year consists of biologist Jim Tietz, out for his ninth fall season, Matt Brady, back for his sixth fall, and Oscar Johnson, a Farallon rookie. We joined Jessie Beck, a seabird intern that will be staying with us until mid-September, to continue monitoring any lingering breeding seabirds. Our arrival on August 21st was uneventful, though one of the first landbirds we saw was a Least Flycatcher at the Heligoland Tree (the one Monterey Pine on the Island). It’s always great to start the season off with a vagrant!
Thankfully for us, these photogenic birds have been particularly common on the island this year. Our surveys over the past few weeks have indicated that their nesting activity has increased.