Monday, September 24, 2007

TNC property still closed, state park hawks, shorebirds, few passerines, and a butterfly/dragonfly report

The TNC Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge, a.k.a. the Meadows, remains closed, so our walk this morning diverted to Cape May Point State Park. Not a bad thing, I think the 20 or so participants would agree - plenty of hawks were in the air, for one thing. Jessie Barry summed it up at 9:30: "A couple hundred hawks, mostly sharpies and kestrels, were in the air around the point in the first hours of the watch this morning." We watched an adult Bald Eagle evict the Laughing Gulls from the rips in a kind of rare offshore fishing expedition for our national bird, at least in these parts.

There were shorebirds and ducks aplenty in Bunker Pond, including a White-rumped Sandpiper with a sadly injured leg that will likely be Merlin fodder before the week is out. The Lesser Yellowlegs flock continues to grow, with at least 35 around, along with the attending odd Stilt Sandpipers and a few Greaters. 10 Pectoral Sandpipers flew into the pond while we watched. Tom Parsons noted that we missed only Eurasian Wigeon and Black Duck among the dabblers; the latter might seem a strange miss for coastal NJ but we don't get many south of the canal this time of year.

Anyone looking for passerines on the ground (or in the trees) is likely to struggle until the next front passes, but we did manage a few Palm Warblers and my first Savannah Sparrows and American Pipits of the fall, among others.

After the walk I lingered on the hawk watch platform with many happy folks enjoying the flight. CMBO is lucky to have some excellent counters and interpreters this fall; I'll introduce them in a post soon, but in the meantime don't hesitate to wander by the hawk watch, sea watch, or morning flight platform to observe, learn, and just hang out with some very fine people.

This morning's list is below, as is a butterfly list from Sunday's Cape May Point exploration provided by Will Kerling, along with some very interesting comments by Will. CMBO is offering butterfly walks on Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, as well as Monarch tagging demos every day except Tuesdays and Thursdays - check the Naturalist's Calendar on this site for details.

Location: Cape May Point SP
Observation date: 9/24/07
Notes: CMBO's Monday walk, diverted to the meadows.
Number of species: 68
Canada Goose 25
Mute Swan 7
Wood Duck 1
Gadwall 2
American Wigeon 10
Mallard 15
Blue-winged Teal 8
Northern Shoveler 2
Northern Pintail 1
Green-winged Teal 10
Double-crested Cormorant 35
Great Blue Heron 2
Great Egret 1
Snowy Egret 1
Little Blue Heron 1
Osprey 5
Bald Eagle 1
Northern Harrier 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk 50
Cooper's Hawk 5
Red-tailed Hawk 1
American Kestrel 10
Merlin 5
Killdeer 2
Greater Yellowlegs 5
Lesser Yellowlegs 35
Sanderling 20
Semipalmated Sandpiper 5
Least Sandpiper 5
White-rumped Sandpiper 1
Pectoral Sandpiper 10
Stilt Sandpiper 3
Short-billed Dowitcher 3
Laughing Gull 800
Ring-billed Gull 10
Herring Gull 10
Great Black-backed Gull 35
Common Tern 50
Forster's Tern 10
Royal Tern 10
Black Skimmer 20
Rock Pigeon 35
Mourning Dove 10
Belted Kingfisher 2
Northern Flicker 10
Blue Jay 5
American Crow 10
Fish Crow 10
Tree Swallow 100
Barn Swallow 5
Red-breasted Nuthatch 10
Carolina Wren 5
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
American Robin 10
Northern Mockingbird 1
European Starling 5
American Pipit 3
Yellow Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 5
Palm Warbler 20
Savannah Sparrow 2
Northern Cardinal 5
Indigo Bunting 5
Bobolink 5
Red-winged Blackbird 50
House Finch 5
American Goldfinch 10
House Sparrow 20
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

From Will Kerling: "Here is a brief summary of our Butterfly and Dragonfly Walk in Cape May Point on September 23, 2007, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. This clear, sunny morning, 25 people turned out to see bugs. The best find of the day came from the young boy who located a well hidden jade-colored Monarch chrysalis within the lacy green leaves of a mature fennel plant. We saw a praying mantis capture a worn skipper. We also saw Sharp-shinned Hawks, Cooper’s Hawk, Osprey, Turkey Vulture and songbirds during our walk.

"NOTE: After the walk, emerging from the Bella Vita Café at about 2:00 p.m., Chris and I observed lots of Red Admirals streaming in from the east. We went over to the harbor and then to Poverty Beach and saw Red Admirals, Common Buckeyes and Monarchs coming in off the water and heading west in large numbers (hundreds of each species), and among them were several of each of the following species: Clouded Sulphur, Orange Sulphur, Cloudless Sulphur, Question Mark, Mourning Cloak and Fiery Skipper butterflies.

"Butterfly List:
Cabbage White
Orange Sulphur
Cloudless Sulphur
Gray Hairstreak
Variegated Fritillary
American Lady
Painted Lady
Red Admiral
Common Buckeye
Silver-Spotted Skipper
Fiery Skipper (quite a few)
Zabulon Skipper

"Dragonfly List:
Twelve-spotted Skimmer
Black Saddlebag
Eastern Pondhawk"

No comments: