Monday, June 30, 2008

News from the Meadows: Pectoral Sandpiper, Phoebe, Fledgling Plovers

[ This Piping Plover has two extra sets of legs - it's brooding young near the Plover Pond at the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge. Photo digiscoped 6/30/08 by Don Freiday, click to enlarge.]

Funny enough, perhaps the rarest bird we found on the Monday morning Cape May Meadows a.k.a. TNC Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge walk was an Eastern Phoebe, which is a scarce nester in the northern part of Cape May County but does not nest south of the canal (there have been rare but suggestive occurences of possible nesting south of the canal over the years, but not this year that I know of). Perhaps this bird's presence was related to the passing of a weak cold front last night? Another migrant, my first of the "fall," was a Pectoral Sandpiper. It looks like a another weak front is in the offing for this afternoon, and yet another cold front is predicted for Thursday. Both should be accompanied by more southbound shorebirds, and I wouldn't rule out something like a southbound Worm-eating Warbler or waterthrush, especially if the Thursday front proves to have some oomph to it.

In other Meadows news, Piping Plovers continue to entertain (see photos). A Surf Scoter floated offshore, and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls were sitting on the beach, along with a few Royal Terns and the usual oystercatchers. Two Willow Flycatchers and an Eastern Kingbird were present, one of the Willows singing regularly. A single Gull-billed Tern settled briefly in the center pool; 3 of these were in the Meadows on the island east of the east path on Saturday night. Curiously, no yellowlegs were to be seen (both species have been around), but at least two Willets were around. Two Killdeer chicks foraged with a parent near the east path, wearing the single breast band that young Killdeer do. An Osprey carried a stick to the platform in the Meadows, which they've been fooling with half-heartedly this year after last year's failed nesting attempt. The full list for the walk is below.

[Piping Plover parent with chick behind.]

Location: South Cape May Meadows
Observation date: 6/30/08
Notes: CMBO Monday morning meadows walk
Number of species: 52
Canada Goose 75
Mute Swan 15
Gadwall 3
Mallard 60
Surf Scoter 1
Great Egret 5
Snowy Egret 3
Little Blue Heron 1
Green Heron 2
Glossy Ibis 2
Osprey 1
Piping Plover 10
Killdeer 8
American Oystercatcher 5
Willet (Eastern) 2
Pectoral Sandpiper 1
Laughing Gull X
Ring-billed Gull 1
Herring Gull 10
Lesser Black-backed Gull 2
Great Black-backed Gull 50
Least Tern X
Gull-billed Tern 1
Common Tern 10
Forster's Tern 15
Royal Tern 5
Black Skimmer 4
Rock Pigeon 5
Mourning Dove 5
Chimney Swift 15
Willow Flycatcher 2
Eastern Phoebe 1
Eastern Kingbird 1
American Crow 5
Fish Crow 15
Purple Martin 5
Barn Swallow 5
Carolina Wren 2
American Robin 5
Gray Catbird 2
Northern Mockingbird 1
European Starling 15
Cedar Waxwing 10
Common Yellowthroat 6
Northern Cardinal 2
Indigo Bunting 1
Red-winged Blackbird 20
Common Grackle 20
Brown-headed Cowbird 10
House Finch 1
American Goldfinch 5
House Sparrow 10

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