Monday, April 20, 2009

The Meadows in Wind and Rain: 9 Snipe + interesting Red-winged behavior

This morning was a good gear-tester, raingear to be exact. Nine Wilson's Snipe provided the highlight for the CMBO meadows/TNC Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge walk when they flushed from the damp meadow east of the parking area, landed, and flushed again. Two Common Yellowthroats have arrived in the bayberry thicket along the dunes, and we saw 5 Piping Plovers and two pairs of American Oystercachers. Plenty of gannets were reasonably close offshore. The full list, somewhat meager thanks to the weather, is below.

We had an interesting observation involving a Red-winged Blackbird that hovered into the wind-driven rain, facing the group and displaying it's red epaulets persistently as we walked along the west path. I looked around to see what that was about, and found one of our participants had red gloves on! When she waved them, the blackbird responded again.

By mere virtue of their visibility, Red-winged Blackbirds make excellent subjects for behavior watching. On Saturday during a workshop we spent some time watching two male redwings square off when one crossed an obvious territorial boundary. They sang and flared epaulets continuously for about five minutes, only 3-4 feet apart, before the intruder gave way and went back to the center of his territory.

A few years ago I was driving a red Jeep Cherokee up the road into Sandy Hook (Monmouth County, NJ) and had one Red-winged Blackbird after another display at the Jeep as I passed, quite the case of super-stimulation!

Location: South Cape May Meadows
Observation date: 4/20/09
Notes: CMBO Monday walk; rain, wind NE 15-25
Number of species: 39
Brant (Atlantic) 1
Canada Goose 6
Mute Swan 28
Wood Duck 2
Gadwall 2
Mallard 10
dark-winged scoter sp. 50
Red-throated Loon 5
Northern Gannet 100
Double-crested Cormorant 10
Great Egret 2
Snowy Egret 1
Turkey Vulture 5
Osprey 5
American Coot 6
Piping Plover 5
American Oystercatcher 4
Sanderling 5
Wilson's Snipe 9
Laughing Gull 20
Herring Gull 50
Great Black-backed Gull 10
Forster's Tern 50
Rock Pigeon 5
Mourning Dove 5
American Crow 2
Fish Crow 10
Tree Swallow 10
Barn Swallow 5
European Starling 5
Palm Warbler 2
Common Yellowthroat 2
Eastern Towhee 3
Savannah Sparrow 3
Northern Cardinal 1
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Common Grackle 15
Brown-headed Cowbird 5
House Sparrow 5

No comments: