Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Morning Flight highlights (15 Warblers, Lark Sparrow, Peregrine, American Golden Plover and Dickcissel) plus Philadelphia Vireo et. al. at State Park

Last night's cold front produced a nice 2000+ bird flight this morning at Higbee despite the northeast winds. A Bald Eagle started calling as soon as I crested the dike in the pre-dawn (I hear two adults have been hanging out along the canal near Cape May Harbor), and shortly thereafter the local Cooper's Hawk and my first Peregrine of the season passed. Eastern Kingbirds, American Redstarts and Bobolinks dominated the morning flight as you'd expect, but there were some other goodies, including 2 Dickcissels, an American Golden-plover (detected initially by Michael O'Brien, by call), and a few of the fancier warblers, like Cape Mays, Blackburnians, Tennessees, and a Prothonotary. The full results of today's flight will be up on View from the Field soon.

The Lark Sparrow was kind of a funny episode. Michael O'Brien asked, "What's this bird?" with more than usual interest, just as Vince Elia and I were also working on it. "Working on it" from the dike means hanging on to a bird with your binoculars for more than a few seconds, something that the official counter (me today, since Sam Galick had the day off) doesn't really have the luxury of doing if there's any kind of flight under way. Vince said something like, "It was a sparrow with a strong face pattern and a lot of white on the tail corners," Michael said he thought it was Lark Sparrow, Vince said that was where he was going with it, and I had reached the same conclusion. Confirmation in birding is always nice, but nowhere is it nicer than when brief looks at flyby songbirds in difficult light are involved.

A stroll around Cape May Point State Park on Sunday produced a Philadelphia Vireo for some friends and me, a bit on the early side (but still a week later than the earliest record reported in Sibley's Birds of Cape May). Three Black Terns there were also a treat.

You don't do much talking on the dike, the birding just takes too much concentration, but eventually the passing redstarts and Northern Waterthrushes slowed down and we got to chatting, we in this case being Michael, Vince, Tom Reed, Glen Davis and me. After delving into such important topics as whether or not if our bones turned to to stone they would be called fossils, and when history began, we got on the subject of the Baird's Sandpiper (s) reported at the state park recently (none were detected by my friends and I on Sunday, but we weren't exactly working hard at it). The one in the photograph posted here a few days ago was an adult, an unusual record, since virtually all the Baird's we get are juveniles and in fact I saw a juvenile Baird's in the same general area the adult was using (the second plover pond) a few days later.

No comments: