Friday, May 2, 2008

April Cape Island Big Day

On Wednesday 4/30, Laura and I were able to squeeze in our April Cape Island Big Day and I am happy to report that we had quite a fine day given the lack of any major evidence of migration.

The best part was that the day kicked off our WSB team scouting so we were able to pick up a on a few species that can be difficult to find on Cape Island. Luck has a lot to do with how your WSB turns out, here on the island at least. But, scouting does play an integral role. The other aspect of the WSB and scouting I like (aside for the competition that is), is that it forces you to get to know an area a little better. In other parts of the world they refer to birding their "local patch" and I personally like to think of Cape Island as my local patch. Sure it's a big area but it is easily covered in a day. The advantage of getting to know the local species demography over the seasons is multi-fold but really becomes apparent at this time of year. Knowing the general numbers of certain species and where they should be located is almost a necessity on a big day. Add to this that you really need to have at least one back up location because no matter how much you scout there will always be a few species that just don't show like clockwork on the big day, the way they had been the weeks of scouting prior.

So as things go the beginning of intensive scouting for the WSB started off pretty good. Today's birding held a number of nice surprises but was looking a little bleak early on. We started out getting very few night birds but had plenty of time to check out a location or two which are visited by few in the early morning hours. Overall highlight birds for the day would be the Yellow-throated Vireo in the second field at Higbee, three Whimbrel and three Short-billed Dowitchers flying in off the ocean first thing in the morning. A few fly over Boat-tailed Grackles at the state park and a few Rusty Blackbirds in a couple of locations. One Caspian Tern made an appearance near St. Peter's jetty and the first Common Tern of the year was mixed in a large feeding flock of Forster's Terns. The best bird by far for the day was an Orange-crowned Warbler which popped up to some pishing in Cape May Point. Definitely a bird that was not expected to be encountered today. This sighting was only eclipsed (in my mind) by another Orange-crowned Warbler! being found by Gail Dwyer during the CMBO Nummy Island walk on the same day.

As I said the weather was beautiful and it was one of those birding days where you find most everything where you'd expect with a few surprises along the way. To be honest I was not expecting a lot out of the day. By the time sunrise rolled around, I'd have been happy if we just ended the day at 100 like we did in March. I figured you had to have your head in a hole to not see at least 100 species on the last day of April no matter the weather! And given the recent rain and wind event I was not hoping for much of an influx of neo-tropical migrants, after all, north west winds are what we are looking for in the fall. But once we tallied our list at 80 and it was still before 9:00 a.m., my hopes perked up. I of course was swinging for the fences in that I was thinking that we might finish the day at around 120, with a good bit of luck that is. Not quite my personal goal but still a very fine total of 115 for the day. Heck, given that as a team of five in the 2006 WSB we tallied 138 on a not so hot migration day; I am completely ecstatic that we were able to see 115 with just two sets of eyes and ears.

Speaking of WSB teams, it's not too late to pledge a contribution to either CMBO WSB team. My team, the Steiner/CMBO Northwood Nightjars raises pledges in support of the fantastic website which you are viewing currently. So if you enjoy and would like to help ensure that we can continue to bring you all the wonderful content you've become fond of, please do not hesitate to contact us. Click on the link above to view the team pledge request form or simply send me an email. If you'd like to pledge the Carl Zeiss Sports Optics/CMBO Team Zeiss, you can call the Center for Research and Education to request information on pledging Team Zeiss. By the way, for those who may not know, that's Pete Dunne and Don Freiday's team.

A partial list of species is below.

Location: Cape Island
Observation date: 4/30/08
Notes: April Cape Island Big Day
24421 steps = approx. 15.9 miles
Number of species: 115

Snow Goose X
Brant X
Canada Goose X
Mute Swan X
Gadwall X
American Black Duck X
Mallard X
Green-winged Teal X
Surf Scoter X
Black Scoter X
Ruddy Duck X
Red-throated Loon X
Common Loon 16
Northern Gannet X
Double-crested Cormorant X
Great Egret X
Snowy Egret X
Green Heron X
Black-crowned Night-Heron X
Glossy Ibis 12
Black Vulture X
Turkey Vulture X
Osprey X
Northern Harrier X
Sharp-shinned Hawk X
Cooper's Hawk X
Red-tailed Hawk X
American Kestrel 3
Merlin X
Peregrine Falcon X
American Coot X
Semipalmated Plover X
Piping Plover 1
Killdeer X
American Oystercatcher X
Spotted Sandpiper X
Solitary Sandpiper 2
Greater Yellowlegs X
Lesser Yellowlegs 1
Whimbrel 3
Ruddy Turnstone X
Sanderling X
Least Sandpiper 12
Purple Sandpiper X
Short-billed Dowitcher 3
Wilson's Snipe X
Laughing Gull X
Ring-billed Gull X
Herring Gull X
Great Black-backed Gull X
Caspian Tern X
Common Tern X
Forster's Tern X
Rock Pigeon X
Mourning Dove X
Chimney Swift X
Ruby-throated Hummingbird X
Belted Kingfisher X
Red-bellied Woodpecker X
Downy Woodpecker X
Hairy Woodpecker X
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) X
Great Crested Flycatcher X
Eastern Kingbird X
White-eyed Vireo X
Yellow-throated Vireo X
Blue Jay X
American Crow X
Fish Crow X
Horned Lark X
Purple Martin X
Tree Swallow X
Northern Rough-winged Swallow X
Barn Swallow X
Carolina Chickadee X
Tufted Titmouse X
Red-breasted Nuthatch X
Carolina Wren X
House Wren X
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher X
Wood Thrush X
American Robin X
Gray Catbird X
Northern Mockingbird X
Brown Thrasher X
European Starling X
Cedar Waxwing X
Orange-crowned Warbler X
Northern Parula X
Yellow Warbler X
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) X
Pine Warbler X
Prairie Warbler X
Prothonotary Warbler X
Common Yellowthroat X
Eastern Towhee X
Chipping Sparrow X
Field Sparrow X
Savannah Sparrow X
Song Sparrow X
Swamp Sparrow X
White-throated Sparrow X
Northern Cardinal X
Indigo Bunting X
Red-winged Blackbird X
Eastern Meadowlark X
Common Grackle X
Boat-tailed Grackle X
Brown-headed Cowbird X
House Finch X
American Goldfinch X
House Sparrow X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2

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