Saturday, July 26, 2008

White Ibis in Cape May, Sandwich Tern "courtship" at Champagne Island, Pelican, more

Karl Lukens reports: "Highlight of the morning's CMBO Cape May Point Walk was a young White Ibis that flew over Lighthouse Pond East and landed where it could not be seen.
In a few minutes it got up and flew towards Bunker Pond but could not be relocated. Shorebirds were in the second plover pond, but looking towards the sun was not the best viewing. A number of Yellow Warblers were seen on the woods trail. - Karl, Judy, Tom, Kathy & Roger Horn."

Karl et al's full list is below. Like them, I also noted several Yellow Warbers at Stone Harbor at dawn today, excitedly giving flight notes as if they had just arrived, which they probably had.

This morning I observed some very interesting behavior by a Sandwich Tern on Champagne Island. The tern, with the white forehead of "non-breeding" plumage (many if not most of the Royals are in similar condition) walked about amidst apparently idle Royal Terns within the colony. These were Royals that at the time were not associating with a mate, nest or chick, and not out foraging. The Sandwich paused in front of each Royal and threw its head back while calling - it tried its luck with at least 15 Royals. The Sandwich Tern then departed, returning with a fish that it proceeded to parade (in flight) first over the colony, then out to a group of loafing terns on a sandbar, then back to the colony, calling the whole time. By behavior one presumes this was a male looking for a mate. The following is quoted from Birds of North America account:

"Usually aerial display follows ground courtship. An unmated male flies around a flock of loafing birds, usually carrying a fish and vocalizing in advertisement. He may alight on the ground near the flock and raise head and bill while calling, with wings held away from the body and crest raised. "

A northward extension of Sandwich Tern breeding range could be imminent, all we need is a receptive female.

Other terns are producing flying young. Last night at the meadows I saw my first fledged Common Terns and Least Terns. Forster's Tern fledges appeared there some time ago.

Karl also made the following report on Friday's CMBO Evening Walk at the Meadows: "Although the quantities were low,the variety of shorebirds was good. One scope view had 2 Pectorals, 1 Least Sandpiper, and a Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. On the beach we had 6 Oystercatchers, several Piping Plovers, many Sanderling, and a few Semi-palmated Plover. Lesser Black-backed Gulls are still present on the beach. - Karl, Judy, Chuck, Mary Jane, Kathy & Roger Horn."

Last night I walked from Cape May Point to Cape May City and back again, and counted at least 14 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, and also had a Brown Pelican fly by. Bottle-nosed Dolphins have been foraging close to the beach there, always a treat.

The list for this morning's CMBO Cape May Point State Park walk follows.

Location: Cape May Point SP
Observation date: 7/26/08
Number of species: 63

Canada Goose 30
Mute Swan 10
Mallard 40
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 10
White Ibis 1
Glossy Ibis 25
Turkey Vulture 2
Osprey 1
Semipalmated Plover 1
Killdeer 6
American Oystercatcher 2
Solitary Sandpiper 1
Greater Yellowlegs 1
Lesser Yellowlegs 5
Ruddy Turnstone 2
Sanderling 6
Least Sandpiper 8
Stilt Sandpiper 1
Short-billed Dowitcher 6
Laughing Gull 50
Ring-billed Gull 2
Herring Gull 15
Lesser Black-backed Gull 2
Great Black-backed Gull 50
Least Tern 75
Common Tern 5
Forster's Tern 20
Black Skimmer 1
Rock Pigeon 5
Mourning Dove 5
Chimney Swift 3
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 4
Downy Woodpecker 3
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 1
Eastern Kingbird 2
White-eyed Vireo 1
American Crow 2
Fish Crow 5
Purple Martin 50
Tree Swallow 5
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 1
Barn Swallow 5
Carolina Chickadee 5
Tufted Titmouse 3
Carolina Wren 5
House Wren 1
American Robin 5
Gray Catbird 3
Northern Mockingbird 2
Brown Thrasher 1
European Starling 15
Cedar Waxwing 3
Prairie Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 5
Northern Cardinal 10
Indigo Bunting 3
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Common Grackle 5
Brown-headed Cowbird 5
House Finch 5
American Goldfinch 1
House Sparrow 5

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