One of my favorite eBird tools is the arrivals/departures report, because one of the funnest things in birding is to track when each species returns each year. Thus, one for example can create a report of arrivals for all of New Jersey in 2011 so far, and see that a number of traditional March arrivals are already in: Tree Swallow, Forster's Tern, Piping Plover, Laughing Gull, and Osprey - and all but the last got here in February, not March! There is a definite trend in earlier and earlier arrivals, in part due to increased observer effort and in part almost certainly due to global warming.
So, what's next? Well, a check of last year's arrivals proffers some likely candidates, like Cattle Egret (last year on March 16), Barn Swallow (March 20), or Glossy Ibis (March 24). I'm going with Cattle Egret, but await even more eagerly the first Louisiana Waterthrush of 2011, just because I love this species and its voice and all it recalls: fast flowing streams, trout lily blooming on the banks, and perhaps trout in the creel. In south Jersey they're in slower, but still moving water. Right around the first of April is when Louisiana Waterthrush will be back in south Jersey, perhaps a few days later in the northern part of the state.
The next blog will be the Belize edition, since we're off to that tropical paradise next week, where, come to think of it, I could find my first Louisiana Waterthrush of 2011 on its way north!