Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bird Reports, a Whole Lot of Learning, and Why we're Glad Cooper's Hawks Aren't the Size of Dogs

With very light winds, the hawk flight was light this morning, but included enough of both common accipiters (Sharpie and Coop), Broad-wingeds, and Bald Eagles to keep it interesting for CMBO's Hawks in Flight workshop. Loads of short-distance migrants like sparrows and kinglets are around, a female Greater Scaup remains with the other ducks on Bunker Pond, and a few Pine Siskins and Purple Finches were flybys at the hawk platform, as were Eastern Meadowlarks, American Pipits, Wilson's Snipe, and a great bird south of the canal: White-breasted Nuthatch, picked by Michael O'Brien as it flew past headed for the lighthouse.

I heard of a few American Woodcock south of the canal in the predawn. Pick a fieldy-brushy-woodsy-wettish spot with a good view of the horizon at dawn to try for this species. Saltmarsh Sparrows have been found at Two-mile Landing off Ocean Drive, along with 1-2 Nelson's Sparrows.

Mike Fritz sent a note reporting on last night's Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor walk: "Lots of Monarchs finally, and the Seaside Goldenrod is now in full bloom. Also had a pod of about 12 Bottlenose Dolphins just outside the surf." Among the birds found were 3 Common Eiders, a Marbled Godwit, Northern Gannets, Brown Pelicans, Red Knots, and all the usual Stone Harbor good stuff.

We had some neat happenings around the hawk watch today . . .

[NJAS's Nature Center of Cape May had a big bunch of kids at the state park learning about hawks, helped by Richard Crossley (second from left), Linda Dill and Kim Hannum of NCCM, and CMBO Interpretive Naturalists Ari Waldstein and Josh Lawrey. This photo was taken only a few minutes before the events depicted below happened - some of the kids got to see the whole affair. . . photos by Don Freiday, click to enlarge all.]

[At least 2 Wilson's Snipe were flying around the state park at mid-morning. Note the pointed wing (woodcock have round wings) and the long, downpointed bill. The bill pointed down, plus erratic flight, help separate snipe from dowitchers.]

[And then there was this juvenile Cooper's Hawk, which flew into the sparrow thicket in front of the platform, emerged, and then, well, look what it did. . .click to enlarge any of these photos.]

[The victim, happily, was a House Sparrow., at the wrong place, wrong time. The school kids, however, were in the right place - wish all readers could spend more time in Cape May. It must be tough, working jobs elsewhere, at nurseries or gas stations or offices (like me, now), when migration is in full swing. Seize the day - Get down here!]

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