Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sat. 4/12: More arrivals; Bayshore notes; Waterbirds on the move

The weather this morning was picture-perfect, allowing for some superb (and rather comfortable) birding through the middle of the day. The party ended around noontime with the approach of a line of heavy thunderstorms, and the rest of the afternoon was peppered with scattered showers and storms that accompanied a passing cold front. There appeared to be a decent number of birds on the move last night, and a few minutes spent outside around 12:30am produced 8-9 birds calling a minute, highlighted by a single Clapper Rail.

Karen Johnson reported the following new arrivals at Peaslee WMA this morning: White-eyed Vireo, Black-and-white Warbler (~15), Northern Parula, Common Yellowthroat (7) and Ovenbird. Karen also reports that 2 Whip-poor-wills were calling last night along Jake's Landing Road, as per her husband Brian Johnson.

An hour or so spent at Heislerville during high tide this afternoon was productive as usual. As far as I know, there were no Ruffs seen there today. However, there was a nice mix of other birds including 1 "Western" Willet and at least one pair of "Eastern" Willets- the first returning Eastern's I've seen this year. An impressive 9 Blue-winged Teal were feeding in the far southern end of the main impoundment, and a passing male Northern Harrier was escorted away from the impoundments by one rather hellbent Forster's Tern.

A brief afternoon spin through Belleplain State Forest produced about a dozen Yellow-throated Warblers and a single Louisiana Waterthrush between the two bridges. At least 1 Short-eared Owl continues at Jake's Landing.

There were large numbers of scoters moving east around Cape May Point just before the storms rolled in at noon. My best estimate was of about 4,500 birds between 12:15-12:45, with 80% being Surf Scoters. Smaller numbers of Northern Gannets and Red-throated Loons were also seemingly on the move. I mentioned the scoter flight to Sam Galick, who I ran into at Heislerville, and he noted that scoters were also moving earlier this morning, but that the majority were instead Black Scoters then.

Additionally, Cape May Point State Park played host to five species of swallows around noon- Purple Martin, Tree, Barn, Northern Rough-winged and my first Bank Swallows of the year. There were at least half a dozen Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and a continuing Red-breasted Nuthatch around CMBO's Northwood Center. Steve Bauer reports that he had a lingering Fox Sparrow in his yard until Thursday of this week.

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