Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bird Notes, Including the Tree Swallow Phenomenon

From today's Two Mile Beach walk, courtesy of Chuck and MJ Slugg: "A variety of raptors were hunting the dunes, ponds, and marshes. The Tree Swallows made quite a spectacle swirling in the air and massing on the beach."

I can't believe I forgot to mention this, but yesterday (Monday), right at sunrise as I was setting up to hawk count on the platform, a MASS of Tree Swallows emerged in unison from the South Cape May Meadows to the east, swirled upward in a tight vertical form that looked very much like a tornado, and headed out south, high overhead. The whole thing transpired in less than 5 minutes. I counted 2,000-3,000 with only one quick try (I had to look for hawks at the same time), Pete counted 4,000-6,000 with several tries. This was one of the most impressive bird spectacles I have ever seen.

From yesterday at the meadows/TNC Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge, courtesy of Karl Lukens: "CMBO Morning Walk at the Meadows. Cold, cloudy, and breezy, but also birdy. Lots of Yellow-rumps, and good variety of waterbirds, including a Moorhen, 1 Pintail, and numerous Pied-billed Grebes. A Lesser Black-backed Gull was found on the beach. - Karl (Pete, Chuck, Mary Jane, Marc, Lynne, Steve, David, Tom)"

From Villas WMA and the state park butterfly walk, both on Sunday, courtesy of Kathy Horn: "Highlights of todays Villas WMA walk included a 3rd-year Bald Eagle that soared in, landed on a nearby snag for excellent scope views, then departed by flying directly overhead; the many Palm Warblers that gave views from all angles, patiently teaching us their chips as we walked through them; and the 4 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers that required a bit more effort to 'get on.'

There was also lots to see on todays butterfly and dragonfly walk at the State Park. A fall rosa-form of the common buckeye obligingly showed both wing views. Numerous red admirals were recent arrivals. And a side trip to a local blutterfly garden brought sightings of the less-common sleepy orange and an ocola skipper. "

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