Monday, September 7, 2009

A Bit of Rain, a Few Migrants, Yellow-headed Continues

[Roger Horn achieved this photo of the sometimes easy, sometimes elusive Yellow-headed Blackbird in the Meadows. It skulks like a rail sometimes, along the east path on the ocean side of the observation platform - near an obvious clump of yellow flowers, if that helps.]

A small but powerful rain cell narrowly missed Cape May Point proper while I counted hawks this morning at the state park , but it apparently hammered the central part of the county. Not surprisingly, there were few raptors to be had, just a couple American Kestrels, a couple Merlins, a tiny light blue male Peregrine, a Northern Harrier, Ospreys, a few Sharp-shinned Hawks, and the adult Bald Eagle that has taken to sitting on the osprey platform at the meadows, visible (with an American flag in Cape May City waving in the background!) from the hawk watch. Three Pectoral Sandpipers flew by the watch, and first thing in the morning an American Wigeon flew over into Lighthouse Pond. The rips were active, but without jaegers or anything else on the rare side. A couple Common Nighthawks were around, and I heard and Glen Davis and Doug Gochfeld briefly glimpsed a bird that probably was a Clay-colored Sparrow, though I'm not satisfied enough with the call and my view to say for sure. A few Northern Waterthrushes, Yellow Warblers and American Redstarts were flying around.

Later, hoping the east winds would yield interesting shorebirds, and a high tide driven by northeast winds would concentrate them, I checked the Wetlands Institute and Nummy Island. Most of the herons were easy to find both places with the high tide, including Tri-colored, Little Blue, and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. At the Institute, 40 or so Greater Yellowlegs were roosting, and Black-bellied Plovers and miscellaneous other shorebirds flew past. On Nummy, 33 wintry-pale "Western" Willets roosted together. None of the scarcer shorebird species were evident.

The Yellow-headed Blackbird in the meadows was refound today in essentially the same spot. I hear Vince Elia had a Hooded Warbler at Higbee this morning.

Karl Lukens sent the following report from the CMBO Morning Walk at the meadows: "A good variety of birds this morning including American Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler, and both teal. Waders included a "white" Little Blue Heron, and 5 Green Herons. Other water birds were Pied-billed Grebe, and Common Moorhen. An adult Bald Eagle sat on the Osprey platform for great looks and remained there for the whole walk! A couple of pockets of warblers were a good change of pace. Shore birds included 2 Solitary Sandpipers feeding together. The Yellow-headed Blackbird was NOT relocated during the walk [it was later in the morning - DF].- Karl (Pete, Judy, Chuck, Mary Jane, Lynne, Marc, Steve, David, Tom)"

The Villas WMA walk on Sunday featured great looks at American Kestrel, according to Chuck Slugg et. al. It has been heartening to see these declining birds regularly in the early migration. A vanguard Yellow-rumped and a Yellow-throated Warbler were also detected at Villas, I wonder if the latter was one of the birds that was at Higbee in the early morning.
[Here's that adult Bald Eagle, viewed from the meadows side, by Karl Lukens. This bird is a problem for the official hawk watchers; I didn't count it this morning.]

[American Kestrel at Villas WMA Sunday, photo by Karl Lukens.]

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