Monday, September 1, 2008

Two days of good flights at Higbee; Hawk Watch Starts; Birds in Flight Workshop

I've heard no further word on the Red-necked Stint.

Songbird migration was strong yesterday morning and this morning at Higbee Beach. This morning featured in particular an excellent flight of Baltimore Orioles, the flight line for which was over the dune and thus very near the morning flight observation platform, where CMBO Interpretive Naturalists are stationed. The orioles came past in flocks, sometimes of 20 or more at a time, as well as in twos and threes. Cape May, Magnolia, Northern Parula and Black-throated Blue were among the spicier warblers engaged in morning flight, and Red-eyed Vireos were plentiful. A Merlin briefly scattered the mixed flock of Cedar Waxwings, orioles, kingbirds and blackbirds that often accumulates on the snag northwest of the platform. Our Morning Flight count results can be found under View from the Field. This can't be emphasized enough: if you want to experience Morning Flight, it is critical to get there for the first 1-2 hours after sunrise. Often the flight is dwindling by the time the first visitors climb up on the platform.

The official Cape May hawk count started today, and despite warm temperatures and light and variable winds, by noon a Bald Eagle and a few Ospreys, Merlins, kestrels, and Sharp-shinned Hawks had been recorded. Up to 9 Black Terns rested on the Bunker Pond Island, and there were many shorebirds, including White-rumped Sandpiper. Some of the rarer herons (Tri-colored, Little Blue, and Cattle Egret) were at the State Park as well.

Michael O'Brien's current field identification article features identifying birds in flight, and Michael and Louise Zemaitis will be teaching a School of Birding workshop on this very subject this coming weekend, for which there are still a very few openings. It's a chance to learn to tell Bobolink flocks from Cedar Waxwing flocks by shape (both of the birds and the flocks), plus a whole lot more. Reading Michael's article gives a sense not only for the content of the workshop, but also Michael's mastery of the subject.

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