Sunday, July 13, 2008

"Missed it by THAT much!"

As Don Adams used to exclaim portraying the role of Agent 86, Maxwell Smart. For those of you who are a bit younger than I am (not that I am all that old, Get Smart was in re-runs by the time I was of TV watching age), the reference would be Steve Carell. But more on that in a bit.

First and foremost, Happy Birthday to I really cannot believe that it has been a year! since the website was launched. Like wise, what a difference a year makes. To think back about what this website started at and to see how much it has grown in the last year. The best part is that the sky is truly the limit and having the inside scoop on some of the things that are being worked on for the future, Laura is truly trying to press the limits.

So, back to my title quote. Yesterday Laura and I did our best to run our July Cape Island Big Day by surrounding a work day with the birding run. You may think that doing a big day is difficult enough (at least you might if you ran one with me, as I love to push limits) but try throwing a regular work day in the middle! All in all we got it done and had some great birding as usual. Why did you try to squeeze a big day into a work day, you may be asking? Well, it was either yesterday or miss it for the month. Given our busy summer schedule I had somewhat resigned myself to having to miss July's big day attempt. I consoled myself with thoughts that we pretty much had no chance at 100 anyway, even with some of the good finds that have been made this month. But Laura wouldn't hear of it. We put our heads together and decided that it would work best to squeeze the big day run in on a work day. Sure it would mean being a little extra tired but it's all worth it in the end.

Just to refresh memories (or for those of you just tuning in), Laura and I have been doing a big day a month for the year of 2008. We follow the WSB Cape Island boundaries, birding must be done south of the Cape May Canal. My initial goal was to see at least 100 species one day each month but knowing the minute area (geographically) we have to cover, figured we do well just to get over 90 species in one day per month. After all, Cape Island is only about 3 miles x 5 miles at it widest dimensions. Sure finding 100 species in a day per month may be a very tall order, especially given the size of the search area, but if it's going to be done it will happen in Cape May.

So yesterday started off okay as we found our trusty Eastern Screech Owl but we were pretty much blanked on any other night birds that we might have expected to be around. No Chuck-will's-widow calling from the woods at the Morning Flight dike area. No Barred or Great-horned Owls. No Clapper Rail. I could go on. So, our ability to hit 100 here in July really stemmed on how active birds were in the morning hours in addition to how on our game we were. We'd be missing 7-8 hours of daylight that we could run for some clean up species so to have any chance to hit 100 we had to have a very lucky morning and possibly and even luckier evening.

A lucky and bird rich morning we had. I think we were at about 88 species by the time we headed into work. While the afternoon hours are usually slower bird-wise, it still put a huge hindrance in the way to not be able to pick up four or more species that are not heat of the day dependent. Once the end of the work day rolled around we caught our second wind and were off. We knew that hitting 90, as we had ultimately hoped for, should not be much of an issue. But an additional 12 species might be very difficult since we were working with just a couple hours left in the day. We'd have to have one of those lucky end of the day runs to even have a possibility of a shot at breaking the century mark. With energy high about what the end of the day might bring, we set out. And while we did have one heck of s string of lucky finds (not so much lucky in terms of rarities but actually finding the birds we were hoping to find) was it going to mean the difference?

Highlights for the day we the continuing White-winged Scoter (with the Surf Scoter) at Poverty Beach. A very haggard looking Brant on the beach near the St. Mary's jetty. The two fly over Black-crowned Night Heron and Willets just when we needed them the most. The Black-billed Cuckoo that called a couple of times at the back of Hidden Valley. The load of Spotted Sandpipers that were in the marsh at Pond Creek (the back of the Magnasite Plant) about 14 birds in all that I could see. The fly over Bobolink. And, even though there are a hundred or so up in the Stone Harbor area, the non existent until the very end of the day, Royal Tern. Walking back from pond Creek Marsh as sunset, some what defeated because I knew that we were well above the 90 mark but very close to the century mark that I had figured we'd be lucky to achieve, and low and behold a Royal Tern call from behind. A quick look confirmed that it was just not the end of the day tired hopeful ears. It indeed was a royal, with fish none the less. Also the hand full of Semi-palmated Sandpipers in the mud flat at Pond Creek Marsh. There were Leasts everywhere but it was somewhat of a challenge to find a semi-sand in the failing light. A female Pine Warbler feeding fledgling was a nice addition to the mornings finds, along with the brief fly-by kingfisher that we happened to spot wile looking for Wood Ducks (which we found) at the back of Hidden Valley.

The end tally, get this, it killed me when I saw it on my eBird list, 99! species for the day. One short! I could have died if I had not been too tired to do so. All in all we had decided to finish the day at sunset and let the missed owls be. Had I known we were at 99 I might have tried to push on but as it goes "the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." While I know of about four species that were seen by others yesterday, you have to take what you can get. Much less, many of the other species that were seen are not the easiest to tally at this time of year. We are very thrilled with our 99 species showing for July especially since I would have been ecstatic to just hit 90. I'd have rather run the day more toward the end of the month, but then there is the chance that the weather wouldn't cooperate. So, I am more than satisfied and know that 100 species is more than possible for July on Cape Island.

As usual the list for the day is below.

Location: Cape Island
Observation date: 7/12/08
Notes: July Cape Island Big Day21006 steps = approx. 13.66 miles
Number of species: 99
Brant 1
Canada Goose X
Mute Swan X
Wood Duck 4
Gadwall X
American Black Duck X
Mallard X
Surf Scoter 2
White-winged Scoter 1
Double-crested Cormorant 2
Great Blue Heron 2
Great Egret 6
Snowy Egret 2
Green Heron 4
Black-crowned Night-Heron 2
Glossy Ibis 15
Black Vulture X
Turkey Vulture X
Osprey X
Cooper's Hawk 2
Red-tailed Hawk 2
Semipalmated Plover 35
Piping Plover 4
Killdeer 2
American Oystercatcher 8
Spotted Sandpiper 15
Greater Yellowlegs 8
Willet 2
Lesser Yellowlegs 12
Semipalmated Sandpiper 5
Least Sandpiper 100
Short-billed Dowitcher X
Laughing Gull X
Ring-billed Gull 3
Herring Gull X
Lesser Black-backed Gull 2
Great Black-backed Gull X
Least Tern X Common Tern X
Forster's Tern X
Royal Tern 1
Black Skimmer 8
Rock Pigeon X
Mourning Dove X
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 4
Black-billed Cuckoo 1
Eastern Screech-Owl 1
Chimney Swift X
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 4
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 6
Downy Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) X
Eastern Wood-Pewee 1
Willow Flycatcher 1
Great Crested Flycatcher 2
Eastern Kingbird X
White-eyed Vireo X
Red-eyed Vireo 2
Blue Jay X
American Crow X
Fish Crow X
Purple Martin X
Tree Swallow X
Northern Rough-winged Swallow X
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 10
Brown Thrasher 1
European Starling X
Cedar Waxwing X
Yellow Warbler 1
Pine Warbler 2
Prairie Warbler 1
Prothonotary Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat X
Yellow-breasted Chat 9
Eastern Towhee 4
Field Sparrow X
Song Sparrow X
Northern Cardinal X
Blue Grosbeak 7
Indigo Bunting X
Bobolink 1
Red-winged Blackbird X
Eastern Meadowlark 1
Common Grackle X
Boat-tailed Grackle 2
Brown-headed Cowbird X
Orchard Oriole 16
House Finch X
American Goldfinch X
House Sparrow X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2

No comments: