Saturday, October 24, 2009

Birds Left, None Came, Still Okay

The surprise today was that, other than the persistent south-southeast wind, the weather for birding was fine, with partial sun through 12:30 p.m. It's coming, however, "it" being heavy rain.

It seemed that many of the birds present yesterday left last night (into a south wind, surprisingly) - the Beanery definitely was low-volume, even accounting for the windy conditions. Bill Schul told me his yard, which features the "magic tree," was empty, and I hear Higbee was so light on birds that the Fall Weekend field trips there went out to the dunes to find gannets and scoters offshore (they did).

The Beanery had some cool stuff, however. Over a dozen Eastern Meadowlarks were up and down in the fields, and several kestrels hunted over the vineyard. We twice heard Winter Wren, I suspect the same bird since both were in the same area, near the "Protho spot" where the main path goes through the wet woods. White-crowned and Savannah Sparrows appeared several times, and a handsome male Belted Kingfisher posed at the "oxbow pond." We were unable to extract a definite Vesper Sparrow, but flushed two Wilson's Snipe from surprisingly dry areas in the fields near Stevens Street - a Merlin pursued the second of these at length until the snipe faked left, went right and shook the Merlin off - sweet! Pre-sunrise, 6:45 ish, I watched a Merlin fly out of the big trees near the Beanery parking lot, where I can only assume it spent the night.

A special observation was the Red-bellied Woodpecker, which perched flat-footed atop a telephone pole along Bayshore Road and caught some large insects, possibly wasps or hornets from a nest in the pole, with long reaching grabs with its bill.

A Harlequin Duck flew past the Avalon Seawatch today, the first I've heard of this fall. Sam Galick found a drake Common Eider off St. Peters in Cape May Point.

NOAA is still calling for the west-east front to pass around midnight, with northwest winds from then on. Mmm-mmm-mmm. . . we're all a little worried about a landbird flight, as in, it might not happen, because the front is passing a little late and there could be showers thereafter, but I am optimistic for day 3 of the Autumn Weekend. Hawk-watching will be good for sure Sunday, maybe great.

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