Monday, July 28, 2008

Another summer back-bay sea duck, and reports from Higbee and the Meadows

[Surf Scoter male (the light patch at the nape becomes obscured in summer Surf Scoters due to feather wear), in the bay near Avalon July 27. Seen by kayak, but could be found by looking inland from the toll bridge at the north end of Avalon. All photos by Don Freiday, click to enlarge.]

Given last week's eider and this week's Surf Scoter, I've decided the new best way to find sea ducks is to look for them in back bays and salt marshes in July. . .

The marshes near Avalon, which can be viewed in part from the road leading from Parkway exit 13 eastward to Avalon, were loaded with shorebirds on Sunday, including 100's of dowitchers and other common species, 20 or more Whimbrel, and a handful of White-rumped Sandpipers and Western Sandpipers.

[Downy Herring Gull chick, in an inaccessible gull colony east of Avalon. "Digi-binned" by Don Freiday.]

[Brand new juvenile Herring Gull flanked by its parents, same colony, which also included Great Black-backed Gulls. The big gulls breed in isolated colonies on higher areas in the salt marsh, almost always far away from people.]

[Fledgling American Oystercatcher, produced in the back bay.]

Higbee Beach this morning held an American Redstart, about 10 Yellow Warblers, a few flyover Bobolinks, and the usual breeders, including still-singing Blue Grosbeaks, Yellow-breasted Chats, White-eyed Vireos and Indigo Buntings. I watched a juvenile Great-crested Flycatcher, capable of flight, being fed by his parents. Vince Elia tells me that this weekend he had a single early migrant Black-throated Green Warbler amidst a migrant flock consisting otherwise of Yellow Warblers, many Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, redstart, and Black-and-white Warbler.

Todays CMBO meadows walk was highlighted by Brown Pelican, 4 flyby Stilt Sandpipers, and fledged Least Terns on the beach. Sanderling numbers have increased markedly, with about 75 dodging walkers on the beach. The full list from the meadows walk follows.

Location: South Cape May Meadows
Observation date: 7/28/08
Number of species: 67
Canada Goose 150
Mute Swan 10
Wood Duck 1
Gadwall 2
American Black Duck x Mallard (hybrid) 1
Mallard 20
Brown Pelican 1
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 10
Snowy Egret 5
Green Heron 2
Black-crowned Night-Heron 2
Glossy Ibis 25
Osprey 3
Black-bellied Plover 1
Semipalmated Plover 10
Piping Plover 3
Killdeer 10
American Oystercatcher 4
Solitary Sandpiper 2
Greater Yellowlegs 5
Lesser Yellowlegs 15
Sanderling 75
Semipalmated Sandpiper 5
Least Sandpiper 15
Stilt Sandpiper 4
Short-billed Dowitcher 15
Laughing Gull X
Ring-billed Gull 5
Herring Gull X
Lesser Black-backed Gull 5
Great Black-backed Gull X
Least Tern 75
Common Tern 75
Forster's Tern 25
Royal Tern 4
Black Skimmer 2
Rock Pigeon 5
Mourning Dove 10
Chimney Swift 5
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
Belted Kingfisher 2
Eastern Kingbird 3
White-eyed Vireo 1
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 10
Purple Martin 30
Tree Swallow 5
Barn Swallow 10
Carolina Wren 5
House Wren 2
American Robin 10
Gray Catbird 1
Northern Mockingbird 5
European Starling 10
Cedar Waxwing 15
Yellow Warbler 5
Common Yellowthroat 5
Song Sparrow 2
Northern Cardinal 5
Indigo Bunting 1
Red-winged Blackbird 20
Common Grackle 10
Brown-headed Cowbird 20
Orchard Oriole 5
American Goldfinch 5
House Sparrow 10

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