Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Shorebirds on the Point; Pelican up the Bay

An evening visit to Stone Harbor Point was cut short due to a new moon high tide that submerged all the non-roped off areas of the Point, thus making the lovely walk out to the end a little less appealing. Tides have been running fairly high for the past few days, but hopefully are not having too much of a negative impact on local beach-nesting birds.

Scanning from the base of the point, I located several dozen foraging shorebirds including 10 Western Sandpipers, 14 Semipalmated Plovers, 9 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 7 Short-billed Dowitchers, 11 Black-bellied Plovers, 18 Sanderlings, a Ruddy Turnstone and a Red Knot, in addition to 2 local Piping Plovers. It's a safe bet that most if not all of these birds arrived on the northwest winds associated with the latest cold front. A seabreeze had developed, which made me hopeful to find a storm-petrel or shearwater, but scanning offshore was made difficult by the low clouds which had formed. An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull flew by out over the ocean, heading north.

Later on, some time spent around the jetty at Reed's Beach ended up being well worth bearing the swarming greenheads, as a Brown Pelican flew in off the bay and landed atop one of the pilings in the mouth of Bidwell Creek. Pelicans are irregular but expected summer visitors to the bayshore, and when birds are in the area they often sit on the markers and pilings around Reed's Beach, likely offering the best looks you can get at this species in the Cape May area.

[Brown Pelican. Photos by Tom Reed. Click to enlarge, but beware the grain.]

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