Monday, September 10, 2007

Changes in paradise: new birds, new ages along the bayshore

I recently concluded a meeting with some of our CMBO associate naturalists by asking, "Do you people know how good the birding is down here?" Meaning, in Cape May, compared to northern NJ (where I've lived most of my life) and the rest of the North American continent, where I've spent a lot of time and miles looking for and at birds.

I just got back from Wyoming, where we saw many great things, but after unpacking and doing laundry and picking up mail and doing all the things one must do after being away for two weeks, I wandered down to the Delaware Bayshore at sunset to see what was going on.

The tide rose and neared high, leaving just the elevated spits for birds to roost on. Ten Royal Terns, mostly adults with attending fledged chicks, adorned one spit with a single Black Skimmer and a smattering of Forster's Terns. The typical "shore shorebirds" were present - Sanderlings, Semi-palms, and a turnstone, but the age distribution has changed decidedly, with many more juveniles present. A juvenile Western Sandpiper was with the semis, and a kingfisher flew past.

I chatted with a man cast-netting for mullet for a time. The inshore waters of Cape May County in September are rich in baitfish, and thus fish-eating birds. Mullet, bunker, and spearing are the chief species, and these are avidly pursued by bigger fish like striped bass and bluefish, as well as by terns and herons.

The most unusual species tonight was a flyby Surf Scoter, a juvenile type to my eye, which means it was an arrival from somewhere in Canada rather than a summering bird. Fall has begun, and with it Cape May at its best. Tonight's full list, just a half hour from one place:

Location: Norbury's Landing
Observation date: 9/10/07
Notes: half hour at incoming tide, about 2 hours to high.
Number of species: 14
Canada Goose 2
Surf Scoter 1 juvenile by light belly and seemingly shorter bill/steeper forehead
Semipalmated Plover 10
Ruddy Turnstone 1
Sanderling 25 about half juvs
Semipalmated Sandpiper 25 about half juvs
Western Sandpiper 1
Laughing Gull 5
Ring-billed Gull 1
Herring Gull 10
Royal Tern 10 mostly parents with attending young
Forster's Tern 20
Black Skimmer 1
Belted Kingfisher 1
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

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