Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cape Island Big Day- 6/2/08

Even though we are still recuperating after the busy spring season, Laura and I were able to make an attempt at our monthly Cape Island Big Day. We choose the second of June for a myriad of reasons. First, the rest of the month will continue to be very busy for us both with work and personally but most importantly to try and take advantage of any lingering migrants that might still be around.

We started off the day a little later than we'd have liked which ultimately made us miss two species (Barred and Great-horned Owls) and had me worried very early about our chances to hit 100 species for the day. We did get Eastern Screech Owl at our usual location (sorry other Cape Island WSB teams we will not reveal the location of our night birds) and were lucky enough to catch a Chuck-will-widow calling just a couple of times as the sky began to show signs of sunrise. All in all, not off to a bad start, specially since we tallied species like Blue Grosbeak, Barn and Tree Swallows pre-dawn, plus others. Not that these are difficult but it's a lot better to get birds out of the way as soon a possible.

The Bobwhite at Cape Island Preserve(which has been calling up a storm most all spring) was an easy tick at about 5:20 a.m. (during WSB scouting this species was calling, at least from my scouting, only in the early a.m. but we had it calling in the afternoon on this big day as well). But unfortunately European Starlings having moved into the nesting box, shot our chance at getting American Kestrel from the preserve.

As the morning progressed we tallied species in a slow but consistent manor. Still we were not finding enough migrants around for me to rest confidant that we would surpass 100 for the day. Though, by the time we arrived at the Cape May Point State Park and took a few moments to do a quick tally we found that we had almost hit 80 species and this was before 9:00 a.m.!!! So maybe I was wrong and it looked like we would easily get to 100. But, then the question spring to mind, can we get 110?

The state park proved to be productive as usual with the usual assortment of terns, gulls and the such. I am happy to report that contrary to a rumor that I had heard around WSB time, the Cooper's Hawk nest at the back of the state park is still very active and seeming un-disrupted by the grounds work that the state park staff are doing. I still cannot figure why someone would have thought that the grounds work would have chased the hawk off the nest. Certainly many raptors are not fond of an abundance of disturbance (who is for that matter?) but given the location of the nest it would seem that this pair is well habituated to human activities. Maybe the observer who thought the nest had been abandon didn't realize that the hawks had actually made a new nest and it was assumed that the old nest, which is much more obvious, was the abandon nest in question. Either way, it looks like we can expect to be treated to young coop's learning to fly sometime in the near future.

I should back track a bit and list that we did have a couple of nice finds earlier in the morning, one at the back of Hidden Valley. When we went to the back woods, hoping to find the Great-horned Owls that had been there (young included) earlier in May, we were surprised to hear an emphatic peetsa from an Acadian Flycatcher. This species does not nest on Cape Island and is a nice find especially given the date. Given that the bird was not there around WSB time and has not been reported by anyone since, I can only guess one of two things; 1. the bird had only been around just a little while in the woods when we discovered it. Or, 2. no one has been back in that part of Hidden Valley since the WSB. Only time will tell if it sticks around I guess.

Other great/unexpected finds for the day were a night time singing Seaside Sparrow (only head a couple of times) in the marsh behind Lucky Bones restaurant. A number of raptors around including a handful of imm. Broad-wined Hawks and three Northern Harriers. Interestingly all the harriers were females. Also a Mississippi Kite was floating around during the day. According to Michael O'Brien we missed the bird by minutes at the state park and after searching the skies for some time as we wondered around we decided to do a little late morning hawk watching on Steve's Street. After what seemed like an eternity jumping on the same flock of vultures, Broad-winged Hawks and a harrier, Laura somehow picked the kite out of the clear blue sky. The bird was seen but for a few moments and then off back toward the Meadows. It's interesting how birds can just materialize out of the thin blue and just a quickly disappear.

Also at the Beanery was one Warbling Vireo (thanks to Glen, Sam and Steve for letting us know that bird was around the day before) as was one Lesser Black-backed Gull on the beach at the Meadows. And continuing the theme of singletons, we ended our day with one Peregrine Falcon on the water tower at the Magnesite Plant.

So, we ended our day with 109 species recorded. Not bad at all in my opinion. We could have probably gone to 115 had we really pushed ourselves and worked well into the evening hours. But, we decided to let 109 be the June Cape Island benchmark and save energy for more time in the field in the future. After all, you have to give yourself something to work for in the future, right? All in all I am quite pleased with the total especially given the lack of lingering migrants. So now the question is, what will July bring..........?

Location: Cape Island
Observation date: 6/2/08
Notes: 22354 steps = approx. 14.7 miles
Number of species: 109

Canada Goose X
Mute Swan X
Gadwall X
Mallard X
Surf Scoter 1
Black Scoter 1
Northern Bobwhite 1
Double-crested Cormorant 9
Great Blue Heron 2
Great Egret X
Snowy Egret X
Little Blue Heron 2
Green Heron 3
Glossy Ibis 57
Black Vulture X
Turkey Vulture X
Osprey X
Mississippi Kite 1
Bald Eagle 1
Northern Harrier 3
Cooper's Hawk 2
Broad-winged Hawk 6
Red-tailed Hawk 3
Peregrine Falcon 1
Clapper Rail X
Semipalmated Plover X
Piping Plover 4
Killdeer X
American Oystercatcher 6
Willet X
Ruddy Turnstone 12
Sanderling X
Semipalmated Sandpiper 150
Dunlin 1
Short-billed Dowitcher 135
American Woodcock 2
Laughing Gull X
Ring-billed Gull X
Herring Gull X
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1
Great Black-backed Gull X
Least Tern X
Black Tern 1
Common Tern X
Forster's Tern X
Royal Tern X
Black Skimmer 6
Rock Pigeon X
Mourning Dove X
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 2
Eastern Screech-Owl 1
Chuck-will's-widow 1
Chimney Swift X
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 4
Red-bellied Woodpecker X
Downy Woodpecker X
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) X
Eastern Wood-Pewee 2
Acadian Flycatcher 1
Willow Flycatcher 4
Great Crested Flycatcher X
Eastern Kingbird X
White-eyed Vireo 4
Warbling Vireo 1
Red-eyed Vireo X
Blue Jay X
American Crow X
Fish Crow X
Horned Lark 1
Purple Martin X
Tree Swallow X
Northern Rough-winged Swallow X
Bank Swallow 1
Barn Swallow X
Carolina Chickadee X
Tufted Titmouse X
Carolina Wren X
House Wren X
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 3
American Robin X
Gray Catbird X
Northern Mockingbird X
Brown Thrasher 1
European Starling X
Cedar Waxwing X
Yellow Warbler X
Pine Warbler 4
Prairie Warbler 2
American Redstart 1
Prothonotary Warbler 2
Common Yellowthroat X
Yellow-breasted Chat 7
Chipping Sparrow 1
Field Sparrow X
Seaside Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow X
Northern Cardinal X
Blue Grosbeak 7
Indigo Bunting X
Red-winged Blackbird X
Eastern Meadowlark 2
Common Grackle X
Boat-tailed Grackle 1
Brown-headed Cowbird X
Orchard Oriole X
Baltimore Oriole X
House Finch X
American Goldfinch X
House Sparrow X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2

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