Friday, February 27, 2015

Week in review: 21 – 27 February, 2015

CMBO is pleased to provide weekly summaries of the Cape's birding highlights. Coverage is limited to bird sightings in Cape May County. Readers should keep in mind that some reports may not be confirmed. The vast majority of information utilized in these reports comes from eBird data and "Keekeekerr" text alerts. Observers are also encouraged to send reports and photos to compiler Tom Reed (coturnicops at gmail dot com).

Location Abbreviations/Explanations: CMP (town of Cape May Point); Coast Guard Ponds (ponds/marsh located on south side of Ocean Drive, between Cape May and Wildwood Crest); Cold Spring Inlet (entrance to Cape May Harbor, accessed from Two Mile Beach Unit of Cape May National Wildlife Refuge).

Access Note: Stone Harbor Point remains CLOSED due to restoration work.



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WATERFOWL THROUGH HAWK 
       Abnormally cold weather continued to negatively affect waterbird numbers, and several sources suggest that February 2015 will be among the coldest locally since records have been kept. Significant ice cover remained on most fresh and brackish water, and additional ice cover overtook much of Delaware Bay and many Atlantic back-bays. An unbanded and free-flying female Ruddy Shelduck that appeared at Erma 7 Jan (SWh) was apparently not reported for a second straight week. Though most North American records presumably refer to individuals that have escaped from captivity, it is worth fully documenting the species’ occurrences here, as it is also a candidate for natural vagrancy. Observers are encouraged to report any additional sightings. The trio of Harlequin Ducks at Cold Spring Inlet remained through at least 25 Feb (DF, KH). Other noteworthy waterfowl included typically-scarce Canvasbacks, Redheads, and Common Mergansers at several locations throughout the county (m. ob.). At least 2 Red-necked Grebes were again in the vicinity of Avalon’s 8th Street jetty through the week (m. ob.) and another flew past Hereford Inlet 23 Feb (TB); one might expect to see more of this species given current ice cover on the Great Lakes. An American Bittern again greeted an observer at Nummy Island 26 Feb (DF). Pond Creek Marsh played host to a light-type Rough-legged Hawk--always rare on Cape Island--26 Feb (GDa et al.)., while another put in an appearance at Reed’s Beach 21 Feb (TR). 



[Ice cover on Delaware and Chesapeake bays as of 25 Feb. Image courtesy of United States National Ice Center & MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.  Accessed 27 Feb 2015.]

SHOREBIRDS THROUGH SONGBIRDS
       ‘Western’ Willet was reported for a second straight week, this time a flock of 12 at or near the Coast Guard Ponds 22 Feb (PB). A handful of Red Knots remained at Two Mile Beach through the period (m. ob.) Otherwise, shorebird reports were sparse, save for numerous roadside American Woodcock (many hit by cars) throughout the county (m. ob.). An Iceland Gull flew past the north end of Avalon 25 Feb (GDw), and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were noted at Two Mile Beach 25 Feb (MP) and CMP 27 Feb (DF, KH). After nearly a month without sightings, a Eurasian Collared-Dove was glimpsed at CMP 24 Feb (fide Keekeekerr). Observers are encouraged to continue reporting the species at Cape May. Recent Short-eared Owl news consisted of singles viewed at Jake's Landing 22 Feb (m. ob.) and at Pond Creek Marsh 27 Feb (MP). In what has become a sad trend, very few American Kestrels have been seen in Cape May Couny this winter-- a male was a welcome sight at Reed's Beach 26 Feb (TR). The list of “hardy lingerers” dwindled yet again this week, and we received zero reports of the Tree Swallows, Eastern Phoebes, or Orange-crowned Warblers that had been hanging on at Cape Island. Rusty Blackbirds remained a semi-regular sight at the Rea Farm/Beanery, with sightings through the period (m. ob.).




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Contributors:


Pete Bacinski (PB), Tom Baxter (TB), Glen Davis (GDa), Gail Dwyer (GDw), Don Freiday (DF), Kathy Horn (KH), Mike Pasquarello (MP), Tom Reed (TR), Scott Whittle (SWh).

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References:



eBird. 2012. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application].    eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Available: http://www.ebird.org. (Accessed: 27 February 2015).



Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Available: http://keekeekerr.com/textalerts/keekeekerr. (Accessed: 27 February 2015).

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Going Back to our Roots - and the significance of swirl!

On the top shelf behind my office chair sits a line of rather dingy-looking, colored and stapled collections of pieces of paper. Take them down from the shelf, and they morph instantly into a magnificent piece of history - a set (well almost!) of annual publications of The Cape May Geographic Society. This society came into being in the late 1940s and was, to all intents and purposes, the precursor to a Cape May Bird Observatory; an organization of local and not-so-local people who wanted to study and get to know the wildlife of Cape May. In the early years, one of the main obsessions was very befitting of a coastal community - the study of shells. A number of articles appear on the subject in the earliest reports, ranging from an interesting piece on fossil shell species collected from the canal spoil banks - remember the canal had only just been created in 1942 so there was much to explore here - to a listing of the prize-winners in the annual Shell Collectors' Contest.

Shell collecting was a very popular and pleasurable pastime in those days and I am sure that much kudos was placed on taking part and getting a prize. In these days of high-tech, online, get-it-finished-by-yesterday obsession, many will probably scoff at the simple pleasure of a shell on a beach. And yet these local clubs and societies form the very bedrock that modern day conservation and wildlife organizations are built upon and a return to our roots now and again is, I believe, something we could all benefit from now and again.

And so it was, that CMBO volunteer naturalist, Roger Horn recently sent me the following piece and which I think deserves a wider airing. For it not only takes us back to a time when wondering at Cape May's nature was in its infancy, but it also renews - in me a least - a satisfaction in the knowledge that there are still people out there who wonder the planet, and look, and learn, and wonder...

Here's Roger's piece:


                                                      Swirl, Spiral, or Spire

 

Somewhere, sometime, someone, said to me “You know water swirls the other way in the toilet below the equator. Really?!! Yeah and shells spiral the other way too. Really?! That’s very, very cool. I didn’t think much more about it. Back in the 1980’s, on vacation at the Outer Banks, I came across a shell that spiraled the other way from all the others. Wow! Look at that! If there’s one, there should be more. Now I had a new goal, find the different one. It became a “vacation thing” looking for the different swirling shell. Swimming or wading through the water in the troughs the waves made at the shoreline, quickly gleaning through shells littering the sands. A great way to cool off, relax, and forget about the trials and tribulations of work.

This activity always made me think of the comedian Steven Wright. “I have a very extensive shell collection……I keep them on beaches all over the world.” I found maybe 2 more over the Outer Banks vacation years.

Fast forward…... I have been walking the “Jersey Shore” beaches for many years now and never found a, what I call a “lefty”. On a recent January day walking (and birding) along Two Mile beach, Kathy (my extraordinary wife and birding partner) came across a slew of Knobbed Whelk shells. Instantly I went into “look for the different one” mode. Whoa! Got one! Check this out Kath!

The one on the left is the common or usual one, while the one on the right is opposite. (Photo Roger Horn)

Looking at the center of the knob following the “spire” outward the “lefty” runs counterclockwise, while the “righty” runs clockwise. (Photo Roger Horn)


Okay now I need to know more. Smartphone, Google, Bing, Yahoo not a problem.

I found out all kinds of things, but according to all, it isn’t true. Water will swirl either way and shells that spire counterclockwise could be an anomaly of DNA & RNA coding, but more than likely, in this case, it is the Lightning Whelk. This species is left-handed or sinistral shelled and is native to southeastern North America, south to Florida and the Gulf States. It is the Texas state shell, and Knobbed Whelk is the New Jersey state shell.

 

I always thought that a shell moving along the ocean currents for thousands of miles and many moons while landing at my feet relatively whole and smoothed by its journey, was intriguing. Kind of romantic. Alas not the case. Still though I find it awesome there is an occasional opposite and Yin/Yang happens. Much like left-handed people. We all know how awesome left-handed people are. Just ask any of us.
 
Like Roger, I too am left handed - and we have to bear the cross of being referred to as 'sinister' rather than 'dexter' - while I would also like to point out that the scientific name for the sinstrally-twisted Lightning Whelk is Busycon perversum!!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Week in review: 14 – 20 February, 2015


CMBO is pleased to provide weekly summaries of the Cape's birding highlights. Coverage is limited to bird sightings in Cape May County. Readers should keep in mind that some reports may not be confirmed. The vast majority of information utilized in these reports comes from eBird data and "Keekeekerr" text alerts. Observers are also encouraged to send reports and photos to compiler Tom Reed (coturnicops at gmail dot com).



Location Abbreviations/Explanations: CMP (town of Cape May Point); Cold Spring Inlet (entrance to Cape May Harbor, accessed from Two Mile Beach); Two Mile Beach (beachfront at south end of Wildwood Crest); WMA (Wildlife Management Area)



Access Note: Stone Harbor Point is currently CLOSED due to restoration work.



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WATERFOWL THROUGH HAWK

       Persistently cold weather continued to adversely affect waterbird numbers. Significant ice cover remained on most fresh and brackish water, and additional ice cover began to overtake nearshore waters of Delaware Bay and many Atlantic back-bays. An unbanded and free-flying female Ruddy Shelduck that appeared at Erma 7 Jan (SWh) was apparently not reported this week. Though most North American records presumably refer to individuals that have escaped from captivity, it is worth fully documenting the species’ occurrences here, as it is also a candidate for natural vagrancy. The two female Harlequin Ducks remained at Cold Spring Inlet through at least 16 Feb (TR); a male joined them 14 Feb (TR, DW). A female King Eider was again reported from the north end of Avalon 14 Feb (m. ob.), and 2 Common Eiders were there 16 Feb (DF). Other noteworthy waterfowl included Canvasback and Redhead at several locations (v. ob.) and a max of 6 Common Mergansers at Cox Hall Creek WMA 16 Feb (DF). At least 1 Red-necked Grebe was seen near Avalon’s 8th Street jetty throughout the week (m. ob.), and an apparent Horned Grebe movement was headlined by 60+ at Two Mile Beach 16 Feb (TR). Pond Creek Marsh was home to an American Bittern 14 Feb (CB, WC). A Rough-legged Hawk put in a brief appearance at Reed’s Beach 17 Feb (TR). 

[Red-necked Grebe at Avalon, 18 Feb. Photo by Dustin Welch.]
  

SHOREBIRDS THROUGH SONGBIRDS
       Notable were 6 ‘Western’ Willets reported from Nummy Island 14 Feb (m. ob.). Other shorebird highlights included 8 Red Knots near Cape May Harbor 20 Feb (BR) and numerous reports of roadside American Woodcock throughout the county (m. ob.). There were no reports of CMP’s Eurasian Collared-Dove(s) for the third straight week. Observers are encouraged to continue reporting the species at Cape May. The list of “hardy lingerers” dwindled yet again this week, but did include 8 Tree Swallows at Two Mile Beach 14 Feb (TR, DW), and Eastern Phoebe at the Rea Farm/Beanery 14 Feb (JA). The Rea Farm/Beanery also continued to host American Tree Sparrow and Vesper Sparrow in recent days (m. ob.). Rusty Blackbirds remained a semi-regular sight at the Rea Farm/Beanery, with sightings through the period (m. ob.). There were no Common Redpoll reports this week. 

[American Woodcock at Cape May Court House, 19 Feb. Photo by Dustin Welch.]



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Contributors:

Jesse Amesbury (JA), Claudia Burns (CB), Warren Cairo (WC), Mike Crewe, Don Freiday (DF), Tom Reed (TR), Bill Roache (BR), Dustin Welch (DW), Scott Whittle (SWh).




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References:


eBird. 2012. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application].    eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Available: http://www.ebird.org. (Accessed: 20 February 2015).


Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Available: http://keekeekerr.com/textalerts/keekeekerr. (Accessed: 20 February 2015).

Thursday, February 19, 2015

It's cold, should I feed the birds?

This cold snap that has set upon us really doesn't look as though it wants to shift any time soon and with tonight's temperatures for Cape May forecast to bottom out somewhere around -22F (-30C) it really isn't a night to be outside. And yet our wildlife will be out there, and hoping to make it through the dark hours. On my way home from work this evening I detoured via some of the local streets and found a number of American Woodcocks, hunkered down and trying to save heat. I chanced across two of them with bills turned, tucked well into the back feathers, and each pressed hard up along side the other so that at least one side of each bird benefited from the heat of the other bird. A vision that defined just what a large part of the US is going through right now.

As ever when conditions are cold like this, one of the commonest questions we get asked is "Should I feed the birds?" Well, as is so often the case, the answer is not as straightforward as the question. So here is the first shock: Though feeding birds is not wrong, it generally is not actually necessary. When we feed birds in our back yards, we do so for personal gratification, the birds don't need it, they did perfectly well without it for an awfully long time. But that's not a criticism,  just a statement of fact. It's great to feed birds and draw them closer so that we can enjoy them, but it's not vital to them and, in fact, there are some points that could be argued that demonstrate that feeding birds is not always a good thing - but those are points for another time. Bird populations are dynamic and, if a species occurs in your area as part of a naturally-occurring population, then that species needs to deal with whatever nature throws at it - and the laws of natural selection will come into play; some will perish, some will thrive, such is nature. If there are losses, they will be compensated for by a higher survival rate during the coming (or future) breeding seasons. And so the balance is maintained.

So we largely feed birds for our own satisfaction, so should I start feeding birds now that it is cold? Well, again, you don't have to to but, if you want to, please do. Again, you don't need to feed them, the smart ones will make it through, either by being resilient, or by heading south...

However, what I will say is, if you already do feed, then please, please, please, don't stop!!! Not in the middle of a really cold spell with the ground covered in snow. And this is the key point. Once you have started feeding, you have artificially attracted a higher than natural population of birds to your yard. So, to suddenly stop feeding would really be pulling the rug out from under their feet. A bit like starting a soup kitchen on a cold night, waiting for a queue to build up, then saying you've run out! If you have been feeding, it is critical that you keep feeding during hard weather periods; so don't start feeding if you have a habit of heading south to the sun for a few weeks in the winter. Or have a back up plan; have a neighbor who can be relied upon to fill your feeders while you are away, or be sure that other nearby neighbors are maintaining their feeders such that there is enough food to go around and your birds can find it. All that's needed is just a little bit of planning.

One other point to bear in mind is the matter of water. Birds - like most animals - need a good supply of water, as well as food. Usually they can find this naturally and it is not necessary to provide it - though again, there is nothing wrong with a bird bath if it gives you pleasure to watch the birds. You may also be surprised to hear that providing water is not critical when there is snow around either, for birds can survive for some time on getting the water they need from snow - so you don't need to be burning electricity by providing heated bird baths. However, it can be good to provide water during very cold, frosty periods, when there is no snow, but the ground is frozen hard. If you are around at home regularly enough, you can do this simply by adding warm (not boiling!) water periodically to keep it from freezing.

Learning about the birds in the back yard is how many people first get into birding, and it is from there that great naturalists and conservationists - or people who just care and want to look after our natural heritage - start out. If you are making those first steps and are befuddled by great arrays of field guides, binoculars, and all manner of birdy things, Pete Dunne is running his annual Break into Birding workshop this weekend. Pete's knowledge and teaching skills are the stuff of legend and there is still just time to squeak in on a place for this weekend - and much of the time will be indoors in the warm, so what better way to spend a cold weekend? Contact us as soon as possible for a last minute place on 609 861 0700. See you there!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Champions of the Flyway

I awoke this morning to our very own little piece of the Arctic! The thermometer on the front porch was reading 9F (that's -12C in new money!) and my phone told me that, with the wind chill factor - for it is blowing at around 30mph out there with stronger gusts - that it feels like -16F (-26C). Now I know there are a lot colder places in the world, but I don't like this, so it seems a perfect time to stay indoors and pen a few lines on something taking place very soon in a much warmer part of the world.

The Champions of the Flyway is a relatively new event, but one which follows a tried and tested model - CMBO Director, David La Puma writes:

"32 years ago Pete Dunne pitched the idea of a World Series of Birding to the New Jersey Audubon Society. In short order, the WSB became the premier birding competition in North America, fueling bird conservation nationwide through the unique format of allowing teams to raise money for a variety of conservation organizations. Since then many competitions have been modeled after the WSB, and we celebrate their success as our own since collectively all of our competitions raise millions of dollars to conserve birds around the world. 

Today New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory has teamed up with Leica Sport Optics to participate in the Champions of the Flyway birding competition in Israel. On March 25th our team, the CMBO AMERICAN DIPPERS, will compete to see or hear the most species of bird in 24-hours. More importantly, we will be raising money for critical conservation projects in the Middle East: To halt the illegal slaughter of migratory birds passing though Cyprus each year.

You can help, and I hope you will, by supporting our team in their fundraising efforts. Please follow the Champions of the Flyway link to read more about them (and find out who they are!!), and from there follow the link to the JustGiving site and pledge your support for our team, and for birds worldwide.

Thank you in advance for your support."

Having led many bird trips to the Mediterranean region over the years, I am all too aware of the appalling, unnecessary and senseless toll taken - illegally - on the region's birds. The senseless killings on the Mediterranean islands of Cyprus and Malta are especially targeted by various media campaigns to highlight this travesty, but they don't stand alone. It's hard to find a country in the region that is not involved and places such as Corsica and Sicily, as well as mainland regions from Spain all the way to Turkey have to admit to their part in the madness. The southern side of the Mediterranean takes its toll too, and the huge take of songbirds in Egypt, for example, was highlighted recently in National Geographic.

This is not an attack on legal hunting; the European Birds Directive and many other ordinances allow for sensible levels of hunting, based on population levels and sustainability and collected through due diligence and process. Despite this, staggering numbers of birds continue to be killed illegally and often - seemingly - with little fear of reproach from local law enforcement and it has generally been international groups of conservationists who have taken the lead in bringing this to the public eye and in making efforts to uphold justice.

If you care about birds, follow the Champions of the Flyway link and have a look - we would love you to support our team - and so would the birds.

How do you like your dinner served? The European Bee-eater is still a widespread bird, breeding from SW Europe, eastward into Central Asia. But, as a trans-Saharan migrant it faces many battles in life, and illegal hunting accounts for large numbers of them each year. This is a truly spectacular harbinger of spring in many countries - and long may it remain so [photo by Mike Crewe].

As a breeding species, the Cyprus Wheatear is confined to its eponymous island. Birdlife International currently puts its world population at around 18,000 individuals and it is not currently considered threatened. Wintering largely in Sudan and Ethiopia, these birds have to pass through the Middle East then run the gauntlet of Cypriot's illegal bird-killers; fortunately, its life-style largely seems to keep it away from the 'killing fields'. Let's hope that, with your support, the CMBO team add this one to their list next month! [Photo by Mike Crewe]

Lest we forget: We live in a global economy and we all share responsibility for the welfare of our wildlife, wherever it may occur. There is currently a legal hunting season for songbirds in a number of countries, which means ammunition specially designed for killing them can legally be manufactured and sold. This empty, used box (one of 20 found that day) was lying on the ground - yes disgarded litter! - in Corsica. The product was manufactured in the USA [photo by Mike Crewe].

Friday, February 13, 2015

Week in review: 7 – 13 February, 2015


CMBO is pleased to provide weekly summaries of the Cape's birding highlights. Coverage is limited to bird sightings in Cape May County. Readers should keep in mind that some reports may not be confirmed. The vast majority of information utilized in these reports comes from eBird data and "Keekeekerr" text alerts. Observers are also encouraged to send reports and photos to compiler Tom Reed (coturnicops at gmail dot com).

Location Abbreviations/Explanations: CMP (town of Cape May Point); Coast Guard Ponds (ponds/marsh located on south side of Ocean Drive, between Cape May and Wildwood Crest); Cold Spring Inlet (entrance to Cape May Harbor, accessed from Two Mile Beach Unit of Cape May National Wildlife Refuge). 

*Access Note: Stone Harbor Point is currently CLOSED due to restoration work.


 --===============--
  

WATERFOWL THROUGH GULLS
       Persistently cold weather continued to adversely affect freshwater duck numbers, with significant ice cover remaining on most fresh and brackish water. An unbanded and free-flying female Ruddy Shelduck that appeared at Erma 7 Jan (SWh) continued to be seen between Erma and Villas through at least 7 Feb (m. ob.). Most North American records presumably refer to individuals that have escaped from captivity, but it is worth fully documenting the species’ occurrences here, as it is also a candidate for natural vagrancy. The two female Harlequin Ducks remained at Cold Spring Inlet through at least 7 Feb (m. ob.), and a female King Eider was again reported from the north end of Avalon 12 Feb (JN, DW). Other noteworthy waterfowl included multiple Redheads at Cape May Court House 11 Feb (m. ob.) and in Stone Harbor back-bays 9–13 Feb (m. ob.), plus Common Mergansers at several locations (m. ob.). Single American Bitterns were reported at Stone Harbor Point* 7 Feb (MP) and at Nummy Island 10 Feb (WK). A pelagic trip that traveled about 50 miles southeast of Cape May encountered a Red-necked Grebe, 2 Northern Fulmars, 3 Black-legged Kittiwakes, 67 Dovekies, 12 Common Murres, 6 Atlantic Puffins, and 45 Razorbills 7 Feb (m. ob.). Additional Razorbills were noted from the Cape May–Lewes Ferry 7 Feb (TB, TG) and 12 Feb (TR), along with 4 seen from Avalon’s 8th Street jetty 7 Feb (BR) and 2 from Higbee Beach 12 Feb (VE). At least one adult Black-headed Gull continued to be seen along the lower Delaware Bay, from Sunset Beach to Villas, through the period (m. ob.). 


[Atlantic Puffin offshore Cape May, 7 Feb. Photo by Tom Reed.]



[Common Murre offshore Cape May, 7 Feb. Photo by Tom Reed.]


COLLARED-DOVE THROUGH SONGBIRDS
       There were no reports of CMP’s Eurasian Collared-Dove for a second straight week. Observers are encouraged to continue reporting sightings of the species at Cape May. Short-eared Owls continued to be seen some evenings at Jake’s Landing (m. ob.). The week’s non-waterbird highlight was undoubtedly the Northern Shrike reported from the south end of Corson’s Inlet State Park 8 Feb (LS); no reports since. This is the first report of the species in Cape May County since December 2012. Hardy lingerers included a Tree Swallow at the Coast Guard Ponds 11 Feb (CK), 2 Eastern Phoebes at West Cape May through 12 Feb (MO), and a Palm Warbler at Jake’s Landing 11 Feb (DW). The Rea Farm/Beanery was home to American Tree Sparrow and Vesper Sparrow, the latter a rare winter visitor, 12 Feb (KH et al.). Both Nelson’s and Saltmarsh Sparrows put in appearances during high tide at Jake’s Landing 11 Feb (DW). Eastern Meadowlarks remained a constant at Hidden Valley-- 35 were seen 8 Feb (VE). Rusty Blackbirds were reported from several locations at Cape Island, including West Cape May (MO), Higbee Beach, and Rea Farm/Beanery (VE). There were apparently no Common Redpoll reports this week.



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Contributors:
Tom Baxter (TB), Vince Elia (VE), Tom Gleason (TG), Kathy Horn (KH), Will Kerling (WK), Chip Krilowicz (CK), Joshua Nemeth (JN), Michael O’Brien (MO), Mike Pasquarello (MP), Tom Reed (TR), Bill Roache (BR), Lloyd Shaw (LS), Dustin Welch (DW), Scott Whittle (SWh).


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References:

eBird. 2012. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application].    eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Available: http://www.ebird.org. (Accessed: 13 February 2015).

Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Available: http://keekeekerr.com/textalerts/keekeekerr. (Accessed: 13 February 2015).

Thursday, February 12, 2015

In Celebration of Aaqhaaliq

In mid-February, there really is only one thing to do; wrap up warm, take something hot to drink and head for the coast. For now is the time to be celebrating Aaqhaaliq , or aqhalik, or any other number of spellings - it all comes to the same thing, the Long-tailed Ducks are courting in the surf and it's time to get out there with the camera. So what are those strange words I was using? They are forms of the Inupiak name for the Long-tailed Duck, a name which comes from the remarkable calls of courting males and one of the most fabulous of sounds at this time of year.

Long-tailed Ducks - like many duck species - court and pair up during the winter period and, for Long-tails at least, it is during February that activity really seems to reach a peak. For this reason, we always schedule our Long-tails in Love program to take place around this time so why not give us a call on 609-861-0700 and book a place for this coming Saturday - what better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than by sharing with us a duck with a strawberry pink bill!







Long-tailed Ducks are a highlight of any February trip to the coast, whether they be tiny waifs against a raging surf, or calling 'ow-owdl-ow' as they woo their brides [photos by Mike Crewe].