Friday, September 18, 2009

Slowish Day, Owls, Teal; Forecast - Will Tomorrow be one of the Best Birding Days of the Fall?

This morning's Higbee Beach walk may have set the all time record for fewest species, with 33 bird species during the walk. South wind all night, what are you going to do? We did have nice looks at Black-and-white Warbler and Northern Parula, plus several Merlins and a number of flickers. And there are plenty of interesting plants to look at at Higbee!

Tomorrow, I daresay, will be a much different story, with a cold front crossing northern NJ tonight and reaching Cape May sometime around midnight. West-northwest winds from then 'til morning. . .sweet. Tomorrow should be a major Broad-winged Hawk day, somewhere. Not necessarily Cape May, however, though there will surely be Broad-wingeds here.

Hidden Valley had lots of raptors during the morning walk yesterday, including 15 American Kestrels. This morning I stopped in the pre-dawn at the Hidden Valley parking lot and had an owl "trifecta" - 2 Great-Horneds were hooting due south of the lot, a Barred Owl let loose a few times to the southwest, and a bit of whistling got an Eastern Screech-owl to reply.

The possible Cinnamon Teal remains at the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge, a.k.a. the meadows. Lloyd Shaw and I were looking at it with some other birders this morning, still along the west path, east side near the dune. It's pretty easy to pick out, in part because it has a warm tannish/cinnamony cast to its sides that appears to be staining, not a plumage feature. And it does have a plain face, with little in the way of a line from eye to bill, and it does have a big bill, though some of the Blue-winged Teal have bills at least approaching this one's. The jury is still out on this bird, with some birders convinced and some not. I do wish it had a red eye.

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