Monday, September 22, 2008

Cape May on a Northeast Wind: Peregrines, Jaegers, Moderate Numbers (by Cape May Standards) of Everything Else

Today's numbers from the hawk watch and morning flight are posted on View from the Field. I see Dan Berard detected 31 Peregrines among 925 total raptors, not a bad flight at all, though imagine what the Peregrine count might be if this northeast flow reappears in about 10 days. Peregrines peak in early October.

Sam Galick counted 575 total birds at Morning Flight, including 12 species of warblers. Sam also reports a Parasitic Jaeger, to which I can add another light adult picked by Marshall Iliff tonight off the meadows during a pre-conference field trip of the Northeast Bird Monitoring and Conservation Workshop, which NJAS is co-sponsoring in Cape May this week.

The thing to remember is that if "only" 575 birds are counted at Morning Flight, the general birder's experience at Higbee Beach is less exciting, though I did hear of a Mourning Warbler at Higbee yesterday, a species that apparently does not "fly out" - i.e., it does not engage in morning flight. I should also warn that mosquitoes at Higbee have been a significant presence of late.

Another set of birds that does not engage in apparent morning flight are the brown-backed thrushes - because they re-direct in the predawn hours. Or at least that's what I and others think. Sunday morning I did some listening along the bayshore, and sure enough heard Veeries and a couple Swainson's Thrushes flying north overhead about 6:10 a.m., well before sunup.

Karl Lukens report "CMBO morning walk at the "Meadows" (TNC property). Nice mix of shorebirds, waders, gulls and passerines. Ducks are coming in. One fairly bright (some ruddy) Ruddy Duck and the female Hooded Merganser still continues. [We saw the Ruddy again tonight.] Real nice view for several minutes, of an adult Bald Eagle attempting to steal a fish from an unwilling Osprey. Unfortunately the fish ended up in someone's yard."

The Avalon Sea Watch started today, but I have not yet heard what was seen. During this early period at the sea watch, expect a few gannets, cormorants, dabbling ducks, perhaps a smattering of scoters, terns, and attending jaegers. And you never know - 13 Marbled Godwits were recorded on 9/23/07. Speaking of which, I observed a "modgod" while kayaking in Stites Sound, near Avalon, just yesterday.

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