Sunday, October 11, 2009

And the number is. . .

133, so far. That's 133 species, all from the hawk watch platform, since midnight this morning, according to Tom Reed. Today is the national big sit, and Cape May has had the highest total the past two years if I am not mistaken, and seems poised to do it again. A whole bunch of folks were on the platform trying.

Last night's excellent flight conditions brought a decent nocturnal migration, especially of sparrows including Song, Savannah, Swamp, Field and White-throated, but a nice mix of other birds were flying in the dark. I had 7 American Bitterns in one hour over Norbury's Landing, and the first Hermit Thrushes (3 different birds) I've heard this fall, as well as Swainson's and Gray-cheeked Thrushes, and a single Veery. Veery migration is pretty much through now. A single Grasshopper Sparrow in the dark at Norbury's was a bonus that the guys on the platform did not get. At least a few of that species are probably south of the canal right now, but it takes luck and skill and especially patience to dig them out of the fields.

At the state park, birds were in the air everywhere first thing this morning - blackbirds, yellow-rumpeds, palms, hawks, jays, the whole deal. Highlights from the hawk watch included Rusty Blackbirds, Eastern Meadowlarks, 5 species of Woodpeckers, and a cooperative, apparently exhausted Black-billed Cuckoo which rested for a long time in one of the cedars. Ring-necked and Ruddy Ducks and Lesser Scaup had checked in with the other species that have been present on the pond. Golden-crowned Kinglets were thick around the platform.

I haven't much from anyone who birded the fields at Higbee Beach this morning, but other birds of note around Cape May included a singing Sedge Wren at the Higbee dike, where the flight was strong early and then fell off, apparently. An "Audubon's" Yellow-rumped Warbler off Lighhouse Avenue was found by Richard Crossley. I checked the west fields at the Beanery briefly, and did not find the Vesper Sparrow, but there were noticeably increased numbers of Savannah, Song, and Swamp Sparrows, matching what I heard in the dark (always reassuring to get confirmation that way). Both meadowlarks and Bobolinks were in the fields, as opposed to flying over.

Tom Reed will likely post the big sit results here by sometime tomorrow.

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