Saturday, October 25, 2008

Friday-Saturday Highlights: Eiders, Sparrows, Finches, Shorebirds

Despite less than ideal birding weather, at least from the standpoint of migrant landbirds and raptors, CMBO's Cape May Autumn Weekend is in full swing, and some good birds are turning up.

Immatures of both eider species were found near the Avalon Sea Watch yesterday, and Jon Kauffman called this morning to report that the immature male King Eider is still present at the end of JFK Boulevard in Sea Isle City. Good numbers of dark-winged scoters have been visible offshore from various points, as have Northern Gannets, Royal and Forster's Terns and both loons.

Virginia Rail and Wilson's Snipe were seen yesterday at the South Cape May Meadows.

Yesterday at Cape May Point State Park, 3 White-rumped Sandpipers (all juveniles), a Western Sandpiper (in mostly winter plumage), a Semi-palmated Sandpiper (in juvenal plumage), a Semi-palmated Plover, and a Greater Yellowlegs were visible all together from the Hawk Watch. A Least Sandpiper was also reported there. It should be noted that the default peep at this season is Western, but since most of these have largely molted into winter plumage, any peep that hasn't should be checked for something different. This morning the plover and yellowlegs were still on Bunker Pond and a White-rumped flew past. I also heard an Orange-crowned Warbler chipping from the brush south of the hawk watch. Bunker and Lighthouse Pond are hosting plenty of ducks, including 4 Ruddy Ducks.

Landbirds are generally few, although mutliple flocks of flyover Pine Siskins and Purple Finches were recorded yesterday. Blackpoll, Rusty Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlarks and Eastern Bluebirds were some of the highlights from the Higbee Beach/Hidden Valley complex yesterday and today. A Grasshopper Sparrow was found at the Beanery yesterday. Other warblers reported south of the Cape May Canal have included Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, and Northern Parula.

The Fall Weekend field trip at Brigantine yesterday turned up Snow Buntings, Lesser Scaup, Blue-winged Teal (which have thinned out substantially in Cape May), Western and White-rumped Sandpipers, and Salt-Marsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow.

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