Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bayshore migrants: Yellow-bellied Fly, Dickcissel, swallows, etc.

It was a good morning for migrants along the bayshore- an area that rarely receives any coverage during the fall. I was lucky enough to have the morning off and started out by spending about a half an hour atop our back deck in Reed's Beach, which overlooks the nearby treeline to the southeast, as well as the Delaware Bay to the west. The area in between serves as a heavily-used corridor for migrants which turn around at Cape May and backtrack along the bayshore, seeking a narrower water crossing.

There was a decent passerine flight by mid-August standards, even though I didn't get out until 7am and likely missed quite a few birds. The "morning flight" phenomenon is of course not just limited to Higbee, and actually extends north along the entire length of the bayshore. This morning's flight was comprised primarily of Yellow Warblers and Redstarts, with Redstarts being most numerous. A single female Black-throated Blue Warbler and a couple of Northern Waterthrushes also passed through, and another waterthrush was chipping from along the marsh edge. Bobolinks put in a decent showing, including a flock of 21, the largest I've seen so far. Swallows were also on the move- mainly Tree, but also fair numbers of Barns and a smattering of Banks. A 2nd-year Bald Eagle and a ratty-looking Northern Harrier hurriedly made their way south down the treeline, seeming like early migrants and not local birds.

A brief stop along the second field edge at Kimble's Beach Road produced a small pocket of migrants; about half a dozen each of Redstart and Yellow Warbler, as well as a silent "Traill's" (Willow/Alder) Flycatcher. This road is extremely under-birded at this season, and without good reason...I often find 15-20 species of warblers here on a good flight day in late-August or September.

The Woodcock Trail tract of Cape May NWR (another under-birded gem) produced the best birds of the morning. The first of which was a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher that appeared amongst a nice pocket of warblers, including 4 Black-and-whites, 2 Canadas, a Prairie and of course multiple Redstarts and Yellows. Yellow-bellied Fly is generally more compact, rounder-headed and shorter-tailed when compared to other empidonax flycatchers, and also takes on a more green-ish/olive-ish cast than most of its cousins. The bird I saw this morning appeared to be a fairly worn adult and wasn't quite so bright but overall structure, as well as a lack of contrast between the throat and nape, eliminated Least Flycatcher, the next closest candidate.

The second "nice" bird was a Dickcissel that gave its loud, low, buzzy flight call as it flew north overhead. The Dickcissel's flight call is a distinctive one, and listening for it is the best way to encounter the species here. Other migrants around Woodcock included 2 adult Blue-winged Warblers and an adult male Baltimore Oriole.

Lists from Reed's Beach and Woodcock Trail included-

Location: Reed's Beach
Observation date: 8/12/08
Number of species: 50
American Black Duck 2

Double-crested Cormorant 6
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 1
Snowy Egret 12
Black-crowned Night-Heron 1
Osprey 3
Bald Eagle 1
Northern Harrier 1
Clapper Rail 2
Greater Yellowlegs 1
Least Sandpiper 6
Stilt Sandpiper 1
Laughing Gull 40
Ring-billed Gull 1
Herring Gull 25
Great Black-backed Gull 50
Least Tern 2
Forster's Tern 20
Royal Tern 12
Rock Pigeon 2
Mourning Dove 6
Chimney Swift 1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 3
Belted Kingfisher 1
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 1
Eastern Kingbird 6
Fish Crow 2
Purple Martin 6
Tree Swallow 125
Bank Swallow 10
Barn Swallow 50
Carolina Wren 2
House Wren 2
American Robin 35
Northern Mockingbird 2
European Starling 50
Cedar Waxwing 1
Yellow Warbler 18
Black-throated Blue Warbler 1
American Redstart 35
Northern Waterthrush 3
Seaside Sparrow 2
Song Sparrow 1
Northern Cardinal 2
Bobolink 56
Red-winged Blackbird 25
Common Grackle 6
House Finch 4
House Sparrow 8

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)

Location: Woodcock Trail (Cape May NWR)
Observation date: 8/12/08
Number of species: 45
Green Heron 1

Turkey Vulture 3
Red-tailed Hawk 2
Least Sandpiper 1
Laughing Gull 15
Rock Pigeon 2
Mourning Dove 6
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1
Chimney Swift 6
Downy Woodpecker 1
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 1
Eastern Kingbird 5
Blue Jay 6
Fish Crow 1
Purple Martin 75
Tree Swallow 20
Bank Swallow 1
Barn Swallow 6
Carolina Chickadee 4
Tufted Titmouse 4
Carolina Wren 4
House Wren 2
American Robin 12
Gray Catbird 2
Northern Mockingbird 8
European Starling 25
Cedar Waxwing 7
Blue-winged Warbler 2
Yellow Warbler 9
Prairie Warbler 5
Black-and-white Warbler 5
American Redstart 20
Canada Warbler 2
Field Sparrow 8
Song Sparrow 2
Northern Cardinal 4
Blue Grosbeak 1
Dickcissel 1
Bobolink 6
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Common Grackle 15
Brown-headed Cowbird 2
Baltimore Oriole 1
House Finch 2
House Sparrow 2

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)

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