Sunday, July 29, 2007

10 (!) Stilt Sandpipers at Cape May Point State Park, also first juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs

An hour's birding today at Cape May Point State Park, focused on Bunker Pond (which is where I suggest any birders visiting the state park focus at this time of year) yielded a nice selection of shorebirds. The highlight for me was the first juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs I've seen this "fall," which was also the first juvenile anything, shorebird wise, I've seen this fall as well. Juv. shorebirds are special for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that they somehow find their way south without parental guidance. In most species, adults depart the breeding grounds about a month before the juveniles do.

Juvenile shorebirds, by the way, are universally characterized by feathers in uniform condition (all are brand new, having been grown as the bird passed out of the downy stage on the breeding grounds) and the feathers are usually in very good condition when the juvenile birds first arrive in Cape May or elswhere in the mid-Atlantic. Juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs show fresh upperparts, the brownish ground color laced with well-defined white spots.

Another highlight was a total of 10 Stilt Sandpipers, all adults in breeding plumage, some more vivid than others. On an outward walk past Bunker Pond, the Stilt Sands were scattered, but on the return they had coalesced into a single flock on the "shorebird island" of the pond, joining dowitchers and yellowlegs there.

Five Solitary Sandpipers belied their name by flying over the parking area in a group, circling once, and continuing on across the Delaware Bay, and Yellow Warblers and Indigo Buntings continue to "seep" and "bzzt" overhead.

This mornings complete list is below.

Location: Cape May Point SP
Observation date: 7/29/07
Number of species: 41
Canada Goose 10
Mute Swan 35
Mallard 20 included a brood of ~12, very recently hatched
Great Blue Heron 8
Great Egret 15
Snowy Egret 5
Glossy Ibis 1
Osprey 4
Semipalmated Plover 2
Killdeer 5
Greater Yellowlegs 10 ratio between greater and lesser has increased this week
Lesser Yellowlegs 20 includes the first juvenile of year for me
Solitary Sandpiper 6
Sanderling 200 included obs on beach of SCMM, new high count for me
Semipalmated Sandpiper 20
Western Sandpiper 2
Least Sandpiper 20
Pectoral Sandpiper 3
Stilt Sandpiper 10 at first the stilts were scattered, then coalesced into one flock at "shorebird island" in Bunker Pond
Short-billed Dowitcher 20
Laughing Gull 25
Ring-billed Gull 10
Herring Gull 2
Gull-billed Tern 2
Common Tern 5
Forster's Tern 5
Least Tern 20
Black Skimmer 2
Rock Pigeon 15
Mourning Dove 5
Eastern Kingbird 1 No sign of activity at the nest near Bunker Pond
Purple Martin 50
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 5
Yellow Warbler 2
Song Sparrow 1
Northern Cardinal 1
Indigo Bunting 5
Red-winged Blackbird 5
Common Grackle 2
American Goldfinch 5
House Sparrow 10
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

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