Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snowy Day in Cape May: Eurasian Wigeon, 3 Warblers, Chipping Sparrow Flight (?)

Monday was a rare snowy day in Cape May, and a birdy one, too. Highlights are included in the captions below.

[This Cooper's Hawk greeted us in the snow and fog at Villas WMA. Villas also held a Sharp-shinned Hawk, and a Red-shouldered Hawk flew out of a snow squall at Cape May Point State Park later in the day. All photos by Don Freiday, click to enlarge.]

[This Palm Warbler was a welcome flash of color at Villas WMA. I also finally found the Orange-crowned Warbler at Cape May Point State Park, near the farthest/easternmost observation platform. And, of course, Yellow-rumps were prevalent and active at the State Park, snowy or not. Several flocks of Yellow-rumpeds made extended flights over the state park.]

[Rusty Blackbirds are reliable at Villas WMA. These fed along one of the paths at the south-center part of the WMA.]

[What to our wondering eyes should appear but a female Eurasion Wigeon, the right hand bird above, at Villas WMA. This could easily be the same bird as the one found previously in Cape May Point. Note the browner head and plainer back compared to the left hand bird, a female American Wigeon. The Eurasian also lacked the black rim around the base of the bill found on American.]

[The male Redhead continues in the main pond at Villas WMA, in the remaining patch of open water that on Monday was barely 10 feet wide and 30 feet long.]

[Redhead diving.]

[One of the most interesting sightings of the day was a flock of at least 35 Chipping Sparrows at Villas WMA, including the one above. Chipping Sparrow is scarce at best in winter in Cape May, and rare to absent in winter farther north. As far as I know this flock had not been at Villas before Monday, and 35 is a very high winter count for a single flock. The chippies were in the company of a large flock of Juncoes. Did these birds migrate here with the recent massive high pressure system, and if so from where?]

[Frozen water concentrates ducks. The snowy scene above includes some of the 25 Northern Shovelers that were on Lily Lake, which still has several patches of open water. Lily Lake also held 180 Gadwall, 150 American Wigeon, smaller numbers of other ducks including Green-winged Teal and Ring-necked, and a Cackling Goose. We also checked Cape May Harbor (negatively) for the Eared Grebe, but did find 160 Ruddy Ducks, a fairly high count, with 50 each of scaup and Bufflehead, plus Long-tailed Ducks and the usual Brant.]

[Cape May Lighthouse in the snow.]

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