Saturday, September 15, 2007

Front flings falcons, plus Black Terns and Monarchs

[Monarch butterflies accumulated near the hawk watch pavilion today. Click to enlarge. Photo by Don Freiday.]

The Cape May dawn broke cloudy and flat calm after pre-dawn downpours, and we began our day looking at an excellent concentration of terns and gulls on the beach at Cape May Point State Park. "We" means the participants in the Fall Migration Workshop, the same we that yesterday anticipated the passage of the approaching front.

We were not disappointed, though the front's passage around 9:30 a.m. at Cape May Point had us taking shelter under the hawk watch pavilion, with CMBO's counters and interpreters, until it cleared. The front itself wound up producing little rain, but these fast-moving cold fronts send the warm air ahead of them high into the sky, with downpours often the result, so we played it safe.

Pre-front, the beach yielded a kazillion Common Terns alternately roosting and flying about, depending on what the Peregrines and Merlins were doing - both falcons were present, so the terns were on their toes. With the Commons were 3 Black Terns and more than a score of Royals, as well as a smattering of Forster's. The rips were alive with Laughing Gulls, but not a jaeger could be found by us. We also inspected the State Park trails for passerines, and found them in onesies and twosies - 2 Yellow Warblers, 1 Magnolia, 1 Black-throated Green, and so forth.

Post-front, the kestrels started pouring by, as did the Merlins - Jessie counted over 150 Merlins on the day, and close to 500 kestrels. We watched an adult Bald Eagle steal a fish from an Osprey while we walked the state park trails, and later saw the same scene repeated while we hawk-watched from the platform. Glen Davis said it was third such incident of the day.

While walking the trails, we came upon an immature Peregrine perched literally right over our heads, maybe 15 feet up. The bird allowed time for close looks before rocketing off.

Later we checked the Meadows, where we could find a Merlin anytime we wanted. Two young eagles soared over, and a patch of skimmers came in to bathe and drink. Later still, after the workshop day ended, small falcons continued to fly past the platform, including a Merlin that plucked a Semi-palmated Sandpiper from Bunker Pond.

I hear from Michael O'Brien that the Villas WMA held a couple feeding flocks of warblers this morning, a useful tidbit of information given that there was little in the way of a passerine flight last night - perhaps Villas holds migrants.

Today's State Park list is below.

Location: Cape May Point SP
Observation date: 9/15/07
Notes: CMBO's Fall Migration Workshop, Day 2 - morning and part of the afternoon. Cold front passed about 10 a.m.
Number of species: 77
Canada Goose 25
Mute Swan 5
Gadwall 2
American Wigeon 4
Mallard 25
Blue-winged Teal 25
Northern Shoveler 10
Green-winged Teal 10
Hooded Merganser 1
Double-crested Cormorant 2
Great Blue Heron 2
Great Egret 2
Snowy Egret 1
Black Vulture 5
Turkey Vulture 5
Osprey 15
Bald Eagle 5
Northern Harrier 3
Cooper's Hawk 2
Broad-winged Hawk 1
American Kestrel 50
Merlin 25
Peregrine Falcon 3
Greater Yellowlegs 1
Lesser Yellowlegs 25
Solitary Sandpiper 1
Whimbrel 1
Ruddy Turnstone 5
Sanderling 25
Semipalmated Sandpiper 40
Least Sandpiper 10
Pectoral Sandpiper 5
Stilt Sandpiper 15
Short-billed Dowitcher 15
Laughing Gull 800
Ring-billed Gull 10
Herring Gull 40
Great Black-backed Gull 50
Royal Tern 50
Common Tern 300
Forster's Tern 25
Black Tern 3
Black Skimmer 30
Rock Pigeon 30
Mourning Dove 10
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
Belted Kingfisher 1
Northern Flicker 1
American Crow 15
Fish Crow 5
Purple Martin 2
Tree Swallow 20
Barn Swallow 20
Carolina Chickadee 5
Tufted Titmouse 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch 5
Carolina Wren 5
Gray Catbird 1
Northern Mockingbird 5
European Starling 10
Cedar Waxwing 10
Yellow Warbler 3
Magnolia Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Black-throated Green Warbler 1
Palm Warbler 15
Blackpoll Warbler 2
American Redstart 5
Common Yellowthroat 2
Northern Cardinal 5
Bobolink 10
Red-winged Blackbird 25
Common Grackle 10
Brown-headed Cowbird 5
House Finch 5
American Goldfinch 10
House Sparrow 15
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

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