Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Gannet Record Shattered; First Razorbill; Clay-colored and Grasshopper Sparrow

Who says all bird news is bad? Not to be outdone by the high Golden Eagle count Monday, the Avalon Seawatch shattered the single day Northern Gannet record yesterday, when Sean Fitzgerald tabulated 16,946 of these spectacular migrants from the Atlantic provinces of Canada. Sean notes, "The peak hour of movement occurred between 11:38am and 12:38pm when 5,992 were counted moving south. To put this in perspective, the previous single day record of Gannet was set last year when 7,685 were tallied in a full day! " Fantastic!

Big single day flights are part of the magic of Cape May, but, as we always say, not even a full year's data, let alone a single day, makes a statement about the population of any species. Only by looking at long term trends over many years can we understand what is happening with bird populations - which is why long term studies like the Cape May Seawatch and Hawkwatch are so important.

The season's first Razorbill also passed the seawatch yesterday morning.

Cape May Point today featured ". . . A nice mix of ducks, sparrows and raptors this morning and an unexpected Eastern Phoebe along Lighthouse Ave. Nice Gannets from the 1st dune cross-over.- Karl, (Judy, Tom, Steve, Bill Smythe)." Noteworthy also were the 3 Cave Swallows and 10 Red-throated Loons recorded by Karl and company on this, CMBO's regular Wednesday walk.

[Below are more photos from Karl Lukens. The top is of the Clay-colored Sparrow at the Hawk watch on Monday's big Golden Eagle day. Note the bird's strong face pattern, that the eyeline is about the same strength as the rest of the face markings, and that it has a pale lore, all of which separate the bird from a Chipping Sparrow. The bottom bird is a Grasshopper Sparrow that was at the start of the second field at Higbee today.]

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