Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Daily roundup – September 12, 2018



[Morning view from the Cape May Hawkwatch, 
with visibility under a quarter mile. Photo © Tom Reed.]

Weather: Dense fog dominated the first half of the day, with gradual clearing and plenty of sun (temps reaching well into the 80s) during the afternoon. Scattered thunderstorms also formed during the afternoon, and while most stayed well inland, one affected the northwest corner of the peninsula. Winds were again light from the east/southeast and a trace of rainfall was recorded at West Cape May.

Migration counts: Morning Flight (0623-0838), Hawkwatch (0700-1700) 

Birding summary: A predictably quiet day, but a few highlights included 2 Gull-billed Terns that spent time around Cape May Pt. State Park, a Sora at the South Cape May Meadows, fair numbers of songbird migrants along the State Park trails, a small pulse of Osprey and Peregrines that moved past Cape May Point during the mid-afternoon, and several Common Nighthawks around Cape Island during the evening.

Additional information:
CMBO Twitter feed (@cmbobirds)

The Best of Migration - Cape May School of Birding Workshops!


Cape May is world renowned for its fall bird and butterfly migration, involving spectacular numbers, diversity, views, and photographic opportunities - and Cape May School of Birding Workshops are an incredible way to enjoy and partake in this natural phenomenon. And the best part is – it’s all going to unfold over the next couple months! From our cadre of in-depth birding excursions to a celebration of Monarchs or bird photography, you’re sure to find an offering that catches your eye. All of our workshops are led by experts in their field: world-class birders and naturalists that have often written the guides we all rely on (Pete Dunne, Michael O'Brien, Mark Garland, Louise Zemaitis, Scott Whittle). Our intimate approach to enjoyment and teaching will provide the opportunity and information you need to grow in understanding and appreciation.

While the majority of time is spent in the field watching birds and nature, some of the workshops will incorporate an indoor session – a chance to demonstrate and discuss identification, techniques, conservation, and ecology. Along the way, you’ll meet like-minded people and are sure to form lasting memories and friendships. From beginner to advanced, all are welcome! All the while, your registration fees are helping support the mission of New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory (and NJA and CMBO members receive a 25% discount!).

Below you’ll find a listing with short descriptions for our upcoming schedule. You can register and get more details at our registration site, so reserve your spot today for an incredible experience!!! Register now at: Cape May School of Birding

FALCON FEST AND HAWKS ON HIGH with Pete Dunne
American Kestrel photo by Erik Bruhnke
September 29 & 30

Bird Cape May at the peak time for raptor diversity, with experts who know identification tips unavailable anywhere else! This workshop will be "just birding," no indoor workshop time (unless severe weather dictates otherwise) at the prime time to be in Cape May.  Expect many falcons (including Peregrines), plus accipiters, buteos, harriers, ospreys and eagles. Though our aim will be to study and appreciate the sometimes spectacular passage of falcon species through Cape May at this time of year, we shall be in a prime location to enjoy other migrants too and, depending on the conditions, we may also seek shorebirds, late warblers, early sparrows, and more.

THINGS THAT GO SEEP IN THE NIGHT with Michael O'Brien
September 29 & 30

Experience the cutting edge of birding! Birds don't sing much in the fall-but they sure do call. Chip notes, flight notes, and critical listening are the primary subjects of this workshop, led by the man who wrote the book (well, maybe the CD-ROM) on flight calls. Two hours with Michael equals years of struggle on your own! Includes optional night-time listening for nocturnal migrants. Learn to dissect a single note, determining whether it rises or falls, is clear or burry. You will never listen the same way again. This workshop is spread over two half-days to allow us to be in the field at the best time of day; it includes an afternoon session, evening session to study nocturnal migrants, followed by an early morning listening session the next day - the perfect way to learn the subject!
Monarchs on Seaside Goldenrod

MONARCHS ON MIGRATION with Mark Garland
October 2

Learn about the biology of the monarch butterfly and spend a day in the field with the Director of the CMBO Monarch Monitoring Project.  Visit gardens and other natural areas around Cape May Point to watch monarch behavior and see the principles of butterfly gardening in action.  Learn how to safely handle and tag monarchs, and also learn methods for conducting field research into these migratory insects.  Visit the CMBO Northwood Center to see the terraria where monarch caterpillars and chrysalides are on display, and learn about the proper husbandry of such displays.  We will take time to identify many other butterflies that can be found at this season in Cape May Point, and we’ll identify a few of the migrant birds that are sure to be around, but the primary focus will be on monarch biology all day.

SPARROW SAMPLER with Michael O'Brien
October 13 & 14

A workshop celebrating the ‘LBJs’ (little brown jobs). Subtle and cryptic they might be; difficult to identify they are not, providing you have the right instructor, the right place and the right time. A time when lots of sparrows and lots of species abound. Common species like Swamp, Field, Savannah and Chipping. Uncommon ones like Clay-colored, Vesper, Lincoln’s, Nelson’s and Saltmarsh. Learn the basics of size, shape and behavior first, then practice examining plumage patterns to discover how stunning sparrows can be.

CAPE MAY WITH EVERYTHING ON IT with Louise Zemaitis
October 15 & 16

Mid-October is the time the local birders wait for; crowds have diminished and the most massive fallouts of the season commonly occur NOW!  Sparrows, kinglets, bluebirds, American Robin, Hermit Thrush, and literally who knows what else, since this week starts the season for vagrants in Cape May.  It's also a great time for big raptors like buteos and Golden Eagle, while early seabird flights pass Avalon and Cape May Point nearly every day.
Prairie Warbler photo by Clay Taylor

HAWKS IN FLIGHT with Pete Dunne
October 17 & 18

At fifteen raptor species, this is the time of peak raptor diversity in Cape May. Perhaps including bonus birds like Golden Eagles and Swainson's Hawk!  It is a rare moment during late October in Cape May when something raptorial is not in view. Learn how to tell buteos from accipiters from falcons from  eagles at the very edge of eyesight.  Pete Dunne co-wrote the book that is the title of this workshop, and the only thing he enjoys more than watching hawks is imparting the knowledge he has accumulated during his 15,000 hawk watching hours.

PHOTOBIRDING with Scott Whittle
October 22 & 23

Accelerate your bird identification skills while learning how to photograph birds in Cape May.  Photography can be an excellent tool for identification, as well as a way to convey the beauty of our experiences in the natural world.  Professional photographer Scott Whittle will help you move toward your photographic goals in this workshop, with a focus on using the camera to look more closely at what we see.

Black Scoter photo by Michael Kilpatrick


Monday, September 10, 2018

Daily roundup – September 10, 2018



[Black Skimmers at Cape May Point this morning; 160+ exited Delaware Bay during the early AM as storm conditions waned. Photo © Erik Bruhnke.]

Weather: We finally started to say goodbye to the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon, which gradually pulled away from the area through the day. A warm front also approached from the south. Skies were again largely overcast with light to moderate east winds and occasional showers; about 0.2” of rain was recorded at West Cape May as of 10:00pm. The weakening onshore flow allowed temps to sneak into the 70s during the afternoon.   

Migration counts: Morning Flight (0622-0837), Hawkwatch (0630-1700)  


[Red-necked Phalarope at the Higbee dike. Photo © Vince Elia.]


Birding summary: One last day of storm birding (for now), with highlights that included a Red-necked Phalarope and Buff-breasted Sandpiper atop the Higbee dike, single Roseate Terns at Cape May Point and 2nd Ave beach (Cape May City), 2 Hudsonian Godwits and 2+ American Golden-Plovers at Cape May Airport (with 1 of each flying past the Higbee dike), and 32 Parasitic Jaegers exiting Delaware Bay past Cape May Point during the AM. At present (10:30pm) there are some nocturnal migrants moving in the mist, including some thrushes and herons.

Additional information:
CMBO Twitter feed (@cmbobirds)

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Daily roundup – September 9, 2018



[Parasitic Jaeger chasing a Manx Shearwater at 
Cape May Point this afternoon. Photo © Erik Bruhnke.]


Weather: A stationary frontal boundary, combined with the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon, again affected the area throughout the day. Skies were overcast with increasing east/northeast winds and periods of moderate to heavy rainfall; about 0.75” of rain was recorded at West Cape May as of 8:00pm. Temps hovered in the mid 60s through much of the day.  

Migration counts: Morning Flight (0621-0836), Hawkwatch (0630-1600)  

 [Peregrine Falcon at Cape May Point 
this afternoon. Photo © Erik Bruhnke.]

Birding summary: It was yet another day dominated by shorebirds and seawatching. Highlights included 2 Manx Shearwaters off Cape May Point during the afternoon, a Cory’s Shearwater that flew west past Cape May City at 11:10am, a White-winged Dove that flew south past the Higbee dike, multiple small flocks of Hudsonian Godwits that flew past Cape Island, and a minimum of 5 Roseate Terns between 2nd Ave (Cape May City) and St. Mary’s (Cape May Pt.) during the late afternoon. The sod fields along Corsons Tavern Rd (South Seaville) produced singles of Buff-breasted Sandpiper and American Golden-Plover this morning, while an additional Golden-Plover was noted at the Cape May Airport. 

 [Hudsonian Godwits flying past Cape May Point 
this afternoon. Photo © Erik Bruhnke.]


Additional information:
CMBO Twitter feed (@cmbobirds)

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Daily roundup – September 8, 2018



 [American Avocet at the Ocean Drive toll bridge. Photo © Vince Elia.]


Weather: A stationary frontal boundary, enhanced by the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon, affected the area throughout the day. Skies were overcast with east/northeast winds and periods of moderate rainfall; about a half inch of rain was recorded at West Cape May. Temps remained in the 70s/upper 60s.

Migration counts: Morning Flight (0620-0835), Hawkwatch (0630-1730)  

 [Hudsonian Godwit flying past the Hawkwatch. Photo © Erik Bruhnke.]


Birding summary: It was a day dominated by shorebirds and seawatching. Highlights included a Manx Shearwater that flew past 2nd Ave beach at 1:55pm, an American Avocet that took up residence near the Ocean Drive bridge during the mid AM, an adult White Ibis that flew northwest past the Hawkwatch, a Hudsonian Godwit that flew past the Hawkwatch, and a flock of 8 Hudsonian Godwits that flew past 2nd Ave beach. Black Terns have been hard to find this season, but one flew past 2nd Ave beach and 3 flew south past the north end of Avalon. Tuckahoe again checked in with some noteworthy shorebirds this afternoon, including 5 American Golden-Plovers and a Buff-breasted Sandpiper.

Additional information:
CMBO Twitter feed (@cmbobirds)

Friday, September 7, 2018

Daily roundup – September 7, 2018




 [American Redstart flying past the Higbee dike. Photo © Tom Reed.]

Weather: Light west winds continued from overnight into the first couple hours of daylight, but as expected, gradually shifted to the north and then east by afternoon. Mid-day highs again reached the mid 80s. Near-stationary showers and thunderstorms took up residence along much of the peninsula through the PM hours.

Migration counts: Morning Flight (0619-0934), Hawkwatch (0630-1645) 


[Red-breasted Nuthatch flying past the Higbee dike. Photo © Tom Reed.]

Birding summary: A short-lived songbird flight was observed from the Higbee dike during the early AM; the movement included 647 American Redstarts, 75 Northern Waterthrushes, 22 Red-breasted Nuthatches, and the season’s first Blackpoll Warbler. A southbound Bobolink movement was observed at Cape May Point, with 2300+ tallied from the Hawkwatch. The day’s hawk flight was strongest during the late AM and featured 114 Osprey. The evening brought a strong push of Common Nighthawks, with 468 counted from Cape May Pt. State Park and additional flocks seen elsewhere. A Black Tern was also seen at Cape May Pt. State Park during the evening.

Odes: An obvious highlight was the Striped Saddlebags that visited count staff atop the Higbee dike from ~8:45-9:00am. This apparently represents the second 2018 record of this rare wanderer from the South. Fair numbers of more expected migratory species, i.e. Common Green and Swamp darners, Black Saddlebags, etc. were also noted at Cape Island.



[Striped Saddlebags at the Higbee dike. Photo © Tom Johnson.]


Additional information:
CMBO Twitter feed (@cmbobirds) 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Timeless


[Barn Swallows migrating past the South Cape May Meadows 
on August 18, 2018. Click icon at lower right of box 
to view in full screen mode. Video © Tom Reed.]   


Barn Swallows migrate by day and the flight at Cape May seems to be mainly confined to the immediate vicinity of the sea beach while most of the birds pass within a strip one hundred yards wide...The birds often fly only a few inches above the strand and rarely over six feet. Their course is somewhat erratic, drifting right and left and sometimes tacking back again for a few yards but the general progress southward is steady and rapid. During one of the August flights I stationed myself back on the meadows below South Cape May, some fifty yards from the dunes, where I had a clear view all the way to the sea. Apparently all the Barn Swallows were passing in front of me and selecting a definite line of bushes as a base I counted the birds as they passed it and the average was seventy per minute. Again on August 27, 1926, I counted the swallows that passed along the dunes and beach and the average was forty-six per minute and, so far as I could see, the flight continued at this rate for the better part of the morning and part of the afternoon...

– Witmer Stone, Bird Studies at Old Cape May