Sunday, October 7, 2007

Warblers at Cape May Point, and All Quiet on the Western Shore

I just got word that CMBO's Advanced Birding by Ear workshop (part of the Cape May School of Birding), led by Michael O'Brien and Louise Zemaitis, enjoyed a nice nocturnal flight of mostly warblers over Cape May City, including several Cape Mays, Blackpolls, Northern Parulas, Black-throated Blue, yellow-rumps, Palms, Indigo Buntings, and also enjoyed a diurnal morning flight that included those species plus bobolinks and others. This on southwest winds, at least they were southwest where I was, on Delaware Bay 10 miles north of the point. Winds at the point are now out of the north and a good hawk flight is developing.

A leading theory for why Cape May is so good for fall migrants is that birds are pushed by prevailing winds to the coast, and follow the coast south to the point. But Cape May has two "coasts," the Atlantic Coast to the east, and Delaware Bay to the west. I've had great nocturnal flights along the bay the past several early mornings - on east and/or calm winds. [Remember, east means FROM the east]. This morning the wind had a westerly component, and things were pretty thin along the bay. From 5:30 to 6:30 a.m., I counted only 33 nocturnal notes of any kind, representing probably 25 or less birds. By contrast, the preceding three days I was hearing 100-350 notes per hour. The upshot may be that on east winds, some birds are funneled down the bay side. Interesting stuff!

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