Paul Champlin, who has helped me repeatedly to identify birds I’ve seen and photographed on Gooseberry, has his own blog with this fascinating post that explores why Gooseberry is such a key spot for birding and how he uses internet radar to track birds as they come and go. His posts begins:
Gooseberry Neck, Westport, MA is a rather special place to bird. There are only a handful of known places where a birder can watch migrants-by-the-dosens as they funnel through a very small choke point like the Gooseberry parking lot (30 species of warbler in fall 2012/spring2013 migration, concentrated in a several hundred square foot site). These funnel points offer the ability to document migration in a different way than most places in New England, where birders visiting their favorite wetlands, forest patches, or thickets will find migrant birds, but will not actually know whether or not the birds they see are residents, or in stopover mode. Have birds been there several days? Will they be there tomorrow? Next week? Birding the Gooseberry parking lot, the answer is nearly always “No, it’s currently on its way! The next people to have a shot at seeing this particular bird are at Hammonasset in Connecticut.” This funneling of migrants allows birders to document interesting migration events, such as the earliest movements of many species, and the magnitude of migration as it relates to weather patterns. Of additional interest to me is the predictability of migration as it relates to NEXRAD radar images collected overnight and into the morning. This blog post will not only provide readers with photos and lists of birds seen at Gooseberry Neck, it will also step readers through the thought process of my trying to predict the intensity of migration at Gooseberry, and will provide a basic outline of how to read bird migration via radar, with specifics to Gooseberry (there are several great radar ornithology resources available online, both general and site specific… like http://badbirdz2.wordpress.com/ which covers southern FL). Finally, I pose three migration “funnel” theories specific to Gooseberry, but encompassing the broader region.