Friday, March 21, 2008

Fri. 3/21: Pectoral Sandpiper, Horned Lark, raptors and waders on the move

Breezy is once again the word today on the Cape, as a stiff northwest wind continues to buffet the area. CMBO volunteer Steve Rodan joined me to see what was out and about at the State Park this morning.

We spent the majority of our time atop the dune crossover adjacent to the hawk watch platform, hoping to spy some northbound migrants trying to work against the considerable headwind. However, our attention was grabbed first by an almost continuous stream of Bonaparte's Gulls moving west around the point, probably about 200, all said. Another flock was occasionally visible coursing back and forth behind us, at one point just 15 feet over the park trails. Try as we might, we couldn't find any Little or Black-headed Gulls among the Bonies.

Soonafter, I noticed the first Osprey of the morning flapping hard as it made its way across the rips from Delaware...this bird would be the first of 10 we'd tally arriving this morning. 4 American Kestrels and 2 Bald Eagles also passed through- a decent hawk flight by March standards, particularly with a strong headwind. Additionally, there were 2-3 Red-tailed Hawks and 1 Red-shouldered Hawk hanging around, in addition to both vultures.

Singles of Horned Lark and American Pipit flew over, the former giving a decent look as it passed low overhead and continued west along the dunes. A renegade gang of 6 Northern Shovelers flew south toward Delaware, and never seemed to return. The rest of the action offshore wasn't particularly exciting, as you might expect with the winds blowing off the land, but there were 2 Forster's Terns fishing close to shore, a few small flocks of Black Scoters passing by, the odd Red-throated Loon, two's and three's of Red-breasted Megansers, and a few dozen Northern Gannets. A single female Common Goldeneye was winging her way north around the point as well.

A real treat was watching the first Pectoral Sandpiper of the year twist and turn its way through the headwind and arrive over land. It didn't show any signs of stopping; apparently a rather motivated individual. Also on the shorebird front was a flock of about 12 Purple Sandpipers, at least 5 American Oystercatchers, and 4 Killdeer that were causing quite a ruckus. 2 Rusty Blackbirds flew over the parking lot at one point...not a place where I usually expect to see them.

A check of the ibis pond along Reed's Beach Road early this morning revealed 6 Great Egrets and 2 Snowy Egrets. A check of the same pond this afternoon revealed zero wading birds, but instead 35 Green-winged Teal, 3 Hooded Mergansers and a Belted Kingfisher. I also saw my first Barn Swallow of the year while driving past the Beanery this morning.

List from the State Park enclosed-

Location: Cape May Point SP
Observation date: 3/21/08
Number of species: 55
Brant 4

Canada Goose 9
Mute Swan 4
Mallard 6
Northern Shoveler 6
Northern Pintail 7
Green-winged Teal 2
Black Scoter 18
Common Goldeneye 1
Red-breasted Merganser 8
Red-throated Loon 9
Northern Gannet 45
Black Vulture 6
Turkey Vulture 9
Osprey 10
Bald Eagle 2
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 3
American Kestrel 4
Killdeer 4
American Oystercatcher 5
Pectoral Sandpiper 1
Purple Sandpiper 12
Bonaparte's Gull 225
Ring-billed Gull 6
Herring Gull 65
Great Black-backed Gull 20
Forster's Tern 2
Rock Pigeon 3
Mourning Dove 4
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 1
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 6
Fish Crow 3
Horned Lark 1
Tree Swallow 3
Carolina Chickadee 2
Carolina Wren 2
Winter Wren 1
American Robin 30
Northern Mockingbird 1
European Starling 18
American Pipit 1
Cedar Waxwing 20
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 8
Savannah Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 1
White-throated Sparrow 2
Northern Cardinal 2
Red-winged Blackbird 6
Rusty Blackbird 2
Common Grackle 15
Brown-headed Cowbird 30
House Finch 4
House Sparrow 6

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

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