Saturday, May 24, 2008

What did Higbee hold on this beatuiful morning?

Surprisingly Higbee was quite birdy this morning. Well maybe not too surprisingly but somewhat unexpected as the winds were WNW-NW over night. Looks like I need to start keeping better tabs on David La Puma's reports in the Mid-Atlantic Forecast and

Since there had been a number of good birds around in the last few days I figured that I'd put aside some domestic duties and get out to try and find something like and Olive-sided Flycatcher. Unfortunately for me, I did not spy and Olive-sided Flycatchers though there were evidently two separate individuals seen this morning at Higbee. You might theorize a third, but I am guess it is two at best. The first report was of one individual working the field near the pond at the back of Higebee and another in the first field. A second observer said they had one also in the second field at Higbee. I am guessing that there's a good possibility that either the bird first reported in the first field (or possibly the bird for near the pond) was the bird observed in the second field. Suffice to say that this has turned into quite the flycatcher spring, especially where olives-sideds are concerned. For a species which is supposed to total about one annually in Cape May for the spring we are now up to about four records. Has anyone checked Villas WMA? This an area that seems perfect for olive-sideds to choose to hang around. There have been a few sightings there in the fall but non for the spring in it's short life a a birding location.

So, what did you actually see at Higbee you may be asking yourself? Well, back in "Pete's" corner (no, not so named for Pete Dunne but for a good friend from Burlington, VT) it was quite good as is usually the case. The area I am speaking of is the bend to the right in the second field at Higbee as you walk into the filed. This area is usually good for birds though you may not always get good looks. Many birds are moving through this area on good migration days and will often take a few moments to perch up for at least a short view.

There were numbers of Blackpoll (both singing males and a handful of females working the twigs) a Tennessee Warbler, Northern Parula, Magnolia, Chestnut-sided, Blackburnian, Black and White and Yellow Warblers and American Redstart to name a few. A couple of Yellow-billed Cuckoos and "Trail's" Flycatchers, also. Though the bird of the day for me at least was the Barred Owl that dropped in to the woods being chased by some smaller birds who were not happy to see the owl gliding across the field. I only wish that the bird had not come from behind and I was able to get more than a few second view.

After discussions on the birdiness of the day, the "Trial's" Flycatchers, owl and other sundry topics, Richard Crossley and I attempted to look for these Olive-sided Flycatchers to no avail as previously mentioned. In comparing notes for the morning, I was interested to find that he had also had a male Eastern Bluebird fly over Higbee singing this morning. Where are these bluebirds coming from. I have been told of a few other sightings in the last week or so around Cape Island. To my knowledge there are no breeding birds on the island but it would seem that maybe there is at least one pair. They only thing that troubles me with that thought is that the sightings are coming from various locations. We do have a "presumed" breeding pair in my neighborhood (unfortunately they are not using the box that Laura and I put out for them) but we are more than 10 miles north of Cape May. It will be very interesting to see what species we see as we continue our Cape Island Big Days through the summer months.

One of the last good birds I have to share was not at Higbee this morning. When I walked out to my vehicle to head to Higebee I heard a high pitched song from the trees across the street. Of course I wanted to know, not only for my own curiosity but also for a potential addition to the yard list (we're at about 110 and we've been there a year to the day exactly). The song didn't sound quite right for a Blackpoll and since this is already on the yard list I of course was hoping Cape May or Bay-breasted warbler. While I never did see the bird I did catch a "warble-ly" song but could not hear it well due to a very boisterous Great Crested Flycatcher which was singing near by. I was trying to convince myself that it was a Warbeling Vireo, and add another species to the list. But, luckily it flew and called to reveal that it was nothing close to a vireo. So as it turns out it was a Purple Finch! A pretty atypical bird for the Cape May area this time of year but given the number of purples that were around this winter not totally surprising. After seeing the bird fly and hearing the call it all clicked at to the song that I was struggling to hear through the din of the flycatcher, titmice, chick-a-dees and goldfinches around.

EDIT: I almost forgot to mention my other top sighting for the day and actually my favorite. I had walked down the road toward the Morning Flight dike to listen for the Kentucky Warbler that had been around the last couple of days. Unfortunately I did not hear the Kentucky but I did get to watch a female Ruby-throated Humming bird picking lichen off a tree branch to take and line her nest. At first I was confused as to what she might be doing with her beak up to the tree branch as if she was feeding from a feeder. After taking a closer looking it was interesting to watch her "choose" the lichen. There definitely seemed to be some inspection of which lichen was "best" on her part before she decided to free a piece and then off she went. Now if I can just find where the hummer in our yard is nesting, it would make for a very interesting summer!

As usual, the list for the day is below.

Location: Higbee Beach
Observation date: 5/24/08
Notes: 5486 steps = approx. 3.84 miles
Number of species: 66

Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 1
Turkey Vulture 1
Osprey 2
Semipalmated Plover 1
Laughing Gull X
Herring Gull X
Great Black-backed Gull X
Least Tern 4
Mourning Dove X
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 3
Barred Owl 1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 3
Red-bellied Woodpecker 3
Downy Woodpecker 3
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee 4
Alder/Willow Flycatcher (Traill's) 3
Great Crested Flycatcher X
Eastern Kingbird X
White-eyed Vireo X
Red-eyed Vireo 6
Blue Jay X
American Crow X
Purple Martin 1
Tree Swallow 1
Carolina Chickadee 5
Tufted Titmouse 8
Carolina Wren X
House Wren X
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2
Eastern Bluebird 1
Veery 3
Wood Thrush 2
American Robin X
Gray Catbird X
Northern Mockingbird X
European Starling X
Cedar Waxwing 35
Tennessee Warbler 1
Northern Parula 2
Yellow Warbler 4
Chestnut-sided Warbler 1
Magnolia Warbler 3
Blackburnian Warbler 2
Blackpoll Warbler 12
Black-and-white Warbler 2
American Redstart 2
Prothonotary Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat X
Canada Warbler 6
Yellow-breasted Chat 2
Scarlet Tanager 1
Field Sparrow X
Song Sparrow X
Northern Cardinal X
Blue Grosbeak 5
Indigo Bunting X
Bobolink 1
Red-winged Blackbird X
Common Grackle X
Brown-headed Cowbird X
Orchard Oriole 3
Baltimore Oriole 1
House Finch X
American Goldfinch X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2

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