Monday, July 7, 2008

Whimbrel, Other Shorebirds, Gannet, plus Heron, Gull and Ovenbird Nests. . .

[Whimbrel, my first of the "fall," on the marsh in Grassy Sound near North Wildwood on July 6. All photos by Don Freiday, click to enlarge.]

Shorebirds continue to trickle south, e.g. this morning at the Meadows we had 4 Least Sandpipers, 8 Short-billed Dowitchers, multiples of both yellowlegs, and what may be the same Pectoral Sandpiper previously reported there. Piping Plovers were very visible and vocal; Chuck and Mary Jane Slugg told me a recent survey there yielded 21 adult Piping Plovers (not all of which would have nested there), as well as 9 young plover chicks and 2 fledged chicks. Least terns also have downy young, fun to watch as they scuttle about on the sand. An immature Northern Gannet flew westward around Cape May Point, and a Brown Pelican was seen prior to the start of the walk. The list from this morning is below.

A kayaking trip Monday in a seldom birded section of Grassy Sound, on the "back side" of North Wildwood, yielded a seasonal first Whimbrel for me, plus one of several heron rookeries in this area, reminding me of the good old days when the Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary rookery was active, and you could watch, and hear, the herons and egrets going through their nesting ritual.

[Part of a heron rookery west of Wildwood, on a shrub island formed on a dredge spoil deposit in the marsh, accessible only by kayak. This rookery contained nests of Great Egrets with half grown chicks, plus Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, and at least two Tri-colored Heron nests. It is surrouned by nests of Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls.]

[Laughing Gull on its nest in the high marsh near Stone Harbor, one of many in this colony, the largest Laughing Gull nesting colony in the world.]

A few of Belleplain State Forest's quality birds were quite vocal on Sunday morning, among these at least 6 Summer Tanagers (along Frank's Road and elsewhere), a similar number of Acadian Flycatchers, and more than a few Yellow-throated Warblers, singing in every white pine grove. Red-headed Woodpecker also continues at Belleplain, off Cedar Bridge Road, and Yellow-breasted Chat sang near the RHWP spot. Conspicuously absent, or rather silent, in Belleplain were Kentucky, Worm-eating and Prothonotary Warblers, although a bout of pishing did get me singing protho along Fulling Mill Road, off 47 near Rio Grande, early Sunday morning.

In Bear Swamp, along Route 555 outside of Dividing Creek in Cumberland County, we found an Ovenbird nest (see photo) while banding in the forest interior on Saturday. Two Whip-poor-will's were still calling there in the pre-dawn, and Summer and Scarlet Tanagers were singing.

[This Ovenbird nest in Bear Swamp, Cumberland County had only eggs just last week. On Saturday 7/5 it had three young and one unhatched egg. Because the first Ovenbirds arrive in south Jersey in mid-April and the species is solidly in by early May, this nest's late timing suggests a re-nesting due to the destruction of an earlier nest. Second broods in Ovenbirds have been recorded but are extremely unusual. We caught a fledged Ovenbird while banding the day this photo was taken. It's amazing to think that these naked, helpless chicks could be in the Bahamas or Virgin Islands by October.]

Roger and Kathy Horn reported 4 male and one female Blue Grosbeaks at Villas WMA on Sunday.

List for CMBO's Monday morning walk at the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge follows.
Location: South Cape May Meadows
Observation date: 7/7/08
Number of species: 56
Canada Goose 50
Mute Swan 15
Gadwall 2
Mallard 50
Northern Gannet 1
Double-crested Cormorant 1
Great Blue Heron 5
Great Egret 5
Snowy Egret 2
Green Heron 2
Glossy Ibis 5
Black Vulture 1
Osprey 2
Piping Plover 5
Killdeer 2
American Oystercatcher 4
Greater Yellowlegs 6
Willet (Eastern) 1
Lesser Yellowlegs 10
Least Sandpiper 4
Pectoral Sandpiper 1
Short-billed Dowitcher 8
Laughing Gull X
Ring-billed Gull 1
Herring Gull 50
Lesser Black-backed Gull 5
Great Black-backed Gull 50
Least Tern 20
Common Tern 10
Forster's Tern 10
Royal Tern 1
Black Skimmer 10
Rock Pigeon 5
Mourning Dove 5
Chimney Swift 10
Downy Woodpecker 1
American Crow 5
Fish Crow 2
Purple Martin 25
Tree Swallow 5
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 1
Barn Swallow 10
Carolina Wren 1
American Robin 10
Gray Catbird 1
Northern Mockingbird 2
European Starling 5
Cedar Waxwing 1
Common Yellowthroat 5
Northern Cardinal 3
Indigo Bunting 1
Red-winged Blackbird 15
Common Grackle 10
Boat-tailed Grackle 1
American Goldfinch 5
House Sparrow 10

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