Friday, January 2, 2009

Some notes from Cape May Pt., Stone Harbor Pt.

It was yet another interesting day to watch the weather, as well as the birds, in Cape May. A clipper system moved through during the middle of the day, accompanied by an hour's worth of snow showers and quite a bit of wind- but after the past few days, the wind no longer comes as much of a surprise...

I spent some time poking around Cape May Point, just before and then during the blowing snow. A dozen TREE SWALLOWS greeted me upon entering Cape May Point State Park, but the Glaucous Gull (pictured below) was no longer present on Bunker Pond at noontime. I started out toward the Plover Ponds, but thought better of it after noticing the deteriorating conditions as well as bumping into a rather cold and damp Tom Magarian, who reported not-so-much on the park trails, but noted 10 characteristically hard-to-find SNOW BUNTINGS on the beach, near the 2nd dune crossover (he later called in to report a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at Sunset Beach). There was a fair number of most of the regular puddle ducks on the open portions of Bunker Pond and Lily Lake; Lighthouse Pond was completely frozen.

An hour and a half spent at Stone Harbor Point this evening failed to yield either of the two Snowy Owls, even though that's not to say that one easily could've been hiding out of sight. I ran into a couple at dusk who also reported zilch on the Snowy front, and they had covered the streets to the north of the Point, as well as the Nummy Island area. Keep in mind that there is, to put it lightly, a heck of a lot of places where these birds can hang out- the other side of Hereford Inlet at North Wildwood is also worth a look. 

Lack of big white owls aside, the more interesting things at Stone Harbor this evening included 5 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS feeding along the ocean's edge at the base of the point. This species almost always lingers into January in very small numbers, most often in the Hereford Inlet complex. Also of note was a flock of 11 RED KNOTS which flew in from the beach and headed toward the marshes of Nummy Island. Some time spent scoping the ocean revealed a single close-to-shore HORNED GREBE and a distant flock of 30+ BONAPARTE'S GULLS feeding off the north end of North Wildwood.

In other news, at least 1 GREAT EGRET continues to linger in the "ibis pond" along Reed's Beach Road, and a single AMERICAN KESTREL was clinging to a wire along the north end of Bayshore Road in the wind this afternoon. There were also at least 3-4 SHORT-EARED OWLS at Jake's Landing last night, as well as a single WILSON'S SNIPE. 

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