Sunday, October 7, 2007

Peregrines Flying on a Summerish Day, and Yesterday at the State Park

Mark Garland remarked that the north wind and strong flight we had at Cape May today is supposed to happen on sixty degree days. Well it wasn't sixty, it was 87 Fahrenheit and folks were looking for a shady spot from which they could still watch the show.

The stars were peregrines, many of which flew low enough that the crowd could clearly see the pale forehead and thin mustache on many of the juveniles, hallmarks of tundra birds. Jessie Barry told me the Peregrine total for the day was about 150, though she hadn't counted it up yet, including 50 in a single hour. During that hour, it almost seemed the p-birds were coming in flocks. All the other expected raptors were well represented, including a few Bald Eagles and Merlins aplenty.

In late afternoon a cloud wall approached and the wind abruptly shifted to east-northeast and strengthened significantly, apparently signally the arrival of the "back-door" high coming out of the northeast. The flight slowed significantly as soon as the weather changed, though happily it didn't stop and a little cool air at that point was welcome.

A juvenile White-crowned Sparrow fed with the House Sparrow flock in front of the platform, and though the Dickcissel was not seen, it was at least heard.

Chuck and Mary Jane Slugg sent me the list from Saturday's 3:00 p.m. Hawks, Trails and Beach walk. It gives a good sense of what species are around at the state park at this time of year, as well as evidence of a decent hawk flight yesterday, too. CMBO has one or more guided bird walks every day in fall - check one out!

Location: Cape May Point SP
Observation date: 10/6/07
Number of species: 46
Canada Goose 50
Mute Swan 15
Gadwall 6
American Wigeon 4
Mallard 20
Blue-winged Teal 15
Northern Shoveler 12
Northern Pintail 2
Green-winged Teal 6
Great Blue Heron 4
Great Egret 6
Snowy Egret 3
Turkey Vulture 20
Osprey 6
Northern Harrier 4
Sharp-shinned Hawk 5
Cooper's Hawk 5
American Kestrel 1
Merlin 6
Peregrine Falcon 10
Killdeer 1
Greater Yellowlegs 1
Laughing Gull 5
Ring-billed Gull 30
Herring Gull 50
Great Black-backed Gull 100
Forster's Tern 1
Royal Tern 2
Black Skimmer 1
Rock Pigeon 20
Mourning Dove 10
Downy Woodpecker 1
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Eastern Phoebe 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Blue Jay 6
American Crow 15
Fish Crow 2
Carolina Chickadee 2
Gray Catbird 3
Northern Mockingbird 1
European Starling 15
Palm Warbler 2
Savannah Sparrow 2
Northern Cardinal 5
Red-winged Blackbird 6

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