Monday, February 11, 2008

Mon. 2/11: True winter birding on the bayshore

Old Man Winter is making one of his few appearances of the season in Cape May. The high winds of last night blew over numerous small trees in the area, including a holly sapling in our side yard. Temperatures in the northern part of the county neared single-digits last night, and there is a thin sheet of ice on Delaware Bay extending to about 20 feet offshore of Reed's Beach. With calmer winds and lows again in the teens tonight, there'll certainly be more ice on the bay come tomorrow.

I spent the last 45 minutes of daylight out and about in the neighborhood (Reed's Beach) and came up with a surprisingly nice mix of birds in the cold and wind. About 1200 Snow Geese were in the marsh, a definite decrease from the typical numbers that have been around- but this is almost expected after the conditions we've experienced for the past 24 hours. The Snow Geese that winter along the bayshore will often fly a bit south (possibly to the Delmarva) during cold spells, only to return again once the cold weather ends. In winters with several large temperature swings, this process of flying back and forth can take place several times.

The ibis pond was only half-frozen this evening and produced 7 Great Blue Herons, 3 Great Egrets and 9 Northern Shovelers. Our feeders in the yard were fairly busy, with Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches making appearances along with the other regulars.

Included are a couple pictures I took of the sunset from Reed's Beach, and a list from this evening's adventure-

Location: Reed's Beach
Observation date: 2/11/08
Number of species: 39
Snow Goose 1200
Gadwall 2
American Black Duck 45
Mallard 6
Green-winged Teal 8
Greater Scaup 80
Bufflehead 6
Hooded Merganser 2
Ruddy Duck 12
Great Blue Heron 7
Great Egret 3
Northern Harrier 1
Sanderling 1
Dunlin 23
Ring-billed Gull 10
Herring Gull 80
Great Black-backed Gull 12
Rock Pigeon 2
Mourning Dove 15
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Blue Jay 1
Carolina Chickadee 2
Tufted Titmouse 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch 2
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Carolina Wren 2
American Robin 125
Northern Mockingbird 2
European Starling 45
Cedar Waxwing 20
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 1
Song Sparrow 2
White-throated Sparrow 20
Northern Cardinal 2
Red-winged Blackbird 85
Common Grackle 20
House Finch 6
American Goldfinch 9
House Sparrow 15

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