Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sun. 2/10: C.M. Point- Dovekie, Barnacle Goose, Forster's Terns, a large alcid, ducks on the move

While it was pretty breezy here throughout the day, the worst of the winds didn't arrive at the Cape until about 4pm, allowing for somewhat comfortable birding conditions for the majority of the day. Here's a run-down of some of the more notable flying creatures seen around Cape May today:

A Dovekie was found at Sunset Beach this morning by Richard Crossley. I'm not entirely sure if the bird was on the water or on the wing, but regardless, my search of a rather choppy bay from Sunset and Alexander Ave failed to reveal anything of the sort early this afternoon.

The Barnacle Goose reappeared on the south side of Lily Lake this afternoon, in the company of about 125 Canada Geese, including the oddball with the white head. Outside of the continuing American Coots and Ruddy Ducks, there were no other waterfowl or waterfowl-like birds of note on the lake.

I made several seawatching stops this afternoon at Alexander, St. Peter's and Coral Avenue. The rough sea conditions coupled with the glare from the afternoon sun didn't exactly enhance my odds of finding birds, but there were a few neat finds, including a distant large alcid- either a Razorbill (most likely) or a murre, flying directly away from me at Coral Avenue, and 2 Forster's Terns flying with Bonaparte's Gulls at St. Peter's. And yes, if you're curious, Forster's Tern isn't exactly an expected species here on February 10. Even though February records certainly aren't unprecedented, I normally wouldn't expect to see my first of the year until the second half of March. The south winds of yesterday might have enticed these two to wander north.

My search for the Black-headed Gull continues- A check of the ferry terminal while a boat was in dock this afternoon failed to produced more than 3 Bonaparte's Gulls. There was a flock of about 35 at Sunset Beach around 2pm, but there was no Black-headed (or Little) Gulls among them while I was looking. In general, as February progresses, the odds for Black-headed and Little Gulls gradually increase as Bonaparte's Gull numbers increase, so stay tuned.

Another notable sight this afternoon were two different flocks of northbound waterfowl. The first was a flock of 16 Northern Pintails which approached from the south over the ocean and continued north, well out over the bay. Later on a flock of 7 Gadwall followed suit. After the passage of a warm front yesterday, it isn't too surprising that these birds were on the move, but I wonder what they'll be thinking when they find themselves in sub-freezing temperatures tonight.

The ibis pond along Reed's Beach Road was home to 7 Northern Shovelers and a Greater Yellowlegs late this afternoon.

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