Sunday, June 8, 2008

Least Tern with an egg and notes from here and there

Today during CMBO's Break into Birding workshop (designed for beginning birders), we spent some time enjoying a Least Tern at the South Cape May Meadows as it stood over its cryptically speckled egg, shading it from the extraordinary heat we've "enjoyed" this weekend. I could only see one egg in the bird's scrape, through the scope at reasonably close range, which gives reason to believe that the bird may have laid it recently, since Least's normally have two eggs. I'm planning to check the scrape for another egg tomorrow during the regular Monday meadows walk.

The first Mute Swan cygnet I've seen this summer was paddling around next to mom and dad east of the east path, not exactly a happy thing given that Mute Swans are not native and create some significant ecological problems for native birds - but the little thing was cute in its fluffy white, I must admit.

Four American Oystercatchers and at least four Piping Plovers were on the beach off the meadows, and a first summer Lesser Black-backed Gull flew past. Note that at the meadows, a.k.a. the TNC's Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge, TNC has CLOSED the east path between the beach and the dune to protect beach nesters; you can still walk the loop at the meadows by taking the path inside the dunes.

Several Gadwall are lingering, generally in pairs or trios (often 2 males, 1 female) - today I saw a trio at the meadows and a pair at the Beanery. This species does nest in Cape May, but confirmed nesting (i.e. finding a nest or non-flying young) is noteworthy, so keep an eye out.

A few shorebirds remain. Two Greater Yellowlegs flew past at the meadows, and at Norbury's landing this evening there was a White-rumped Sandpiper along with about 50 Semipalmated Sandpipers and 150 Sanderlings. I saw a Black-bellied Plover in first summer plumage in Wildwood last night, a bird that could summer locally.

I hadn't been to Villas WMA this spring, so I don't know if the singing Blue Grosbeak there this afternoon is news or not. An adult Cooper's Hawk there dueled excitingly with an American Crow.

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