Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cackling Goose, Gray-cheeked Thrush, This-and-that, and some Challenging Little Flycatchers

[Mike Crewe photographed the Cape May Point State Park Cackling Goose. Small size, small bill, short neck, and dusky breast. Caution - there is at least one "small" Canada Goose on Bunker Pond. Click to enlarge.]

The landbird flight yesterday (Tuesday) was much smaller than Monday's, but in some ways more easily viewed. As is often the case on the "second day," the birds at Higbee were much less frantic, generally feeding and therefore viewable. One of our workshop's favorite birds was the Gray-cheeked Thrush that flew cooperatively up to an open limb along the dirt lane leading to the Morning Flight Platform. This area was the best overall, also holding double-digit Black-and-white Warblers, Tennessee, Magnolia, and others. A male Black-throated Blue-warbler was a highlight at the hawk-studded Beanery, where any time you wanted to study a raptor you could, and with choice: Bald Eagles, Broad-wingeds, Red-taileds, both small falcons, both small accipiters.

At Stone Harbor in the afternoon, the tide was weirdly high a full three hours before the forecast high tide, so there was no mudflat to speak of near the free bridge. Nummy Island, however, had a selection of shorebirds, including one of the Marbled Godwits which, unfortunately, was all the way to the east, nearly on the edge of Great Channel.

20 Piping Plovers remain on the beach at Stone Harbor Point, and with the high tide this spot was riddled with birds - Semipalmated Plovers, the three common "peep," knots, oystercatchers, big terns, and gulls. A flock of 22 Great Blue Herons flying south together at sunset capped another marvelous day.

[It's been a good empid fall, including Least Flycatchers (note the nicely displayed short primary projection). . .]

[Alder Flycatchers, note the longer primary projection and brownish cast. . . ]

[And Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, fat-headed plump little things with yellow right up to the chin. All photos by Michael O'Brien, click to enlarge.]

[A bird that sometimes stops birders for a second is Eastern Wood-pewee, especially juveniles. Our workshop studied a bird like this one at Higbee (this one was photgraphed by Tony Leukering at the state park), with a nearly completly dark bill. But it still has the long, pointy wings, dusky vest, nearly complete lack of an eye ring, and just a hint of a little pointy crestish thing at the back of the head. Click to enlarge.]

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