Sunday, October 11, 2009

Big Sit! Sabine's Gull! Least Bittern! Barn Owl!

Today's big sit from the hawk watch platform, organized by Tom Reed and peopled by a host of Cape May regulars, sat at 145 + species (!!!) when I left at 8:00 p.m. Late day highlights included American Bitterns, Common Nighthawks, an amazing Least Bittern that got up after sunset and circled higher and higher near the lighthouse, silhouetted by the post-sunset glow, before heading southwest, and a Barn Owl (one was also had predawn) than called and then showed itself left of the lighthouse as it flew towards Delaware. I frankly have never seen such a display of bird finding and bird identifying skill as that which happened on the platform today. The rarity of the day was clearly Michael O'Brien's adult Sabine's Gull, picked flying by, which later sat on the water briefly at great distance and through some tense moments before it got up and flew, still at distance, but that's a bird you can work with "way out there." Cameron Cox's important late-day pick of a junco was huge, Dave Hedeen nailed his catbird and nabbed some late day Greater Yellowlegs, Doug Gochfeld made sure Common Tern was found as the flocks from the rips broke up at sunset - everyone contributed.

We had lots of laughs to balance the intensity, as everyone tried to stretch their abilities and found there were limits - e.g. the single woodpecker identified as three different species by different A-1 observers (all three of which luckily were later seen well) or the Ring-necked Duck which transmogrified into a Lesser Scaup as sunrise light illuminated it, and us, but gradually returned to Ring-necked status as the sun swung behind the platform and offered better light. It was truly an awesome day in and for Cape May, eventually the full day's report will be posted here.

No comments: