Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cape May Flight Report

[Ruby-crowned Kinglet pauses at the Higbee Dike this morning. Click to enlarge most photos.]

There were birds out there last night - Derek Lovitch, Mark Garland, Michael O'Brien and I watched them bloom on the radar images during the Phillies game - but you wouldn't have known it from where I was listening along the bay on the west side of the Cape May penninsula in the pre-dawn this morning. The 30+ shooting stars crossing a glorious October night sky about matched the total number of flight calls I heard in an hour's listening, but the birds had to be somewhere, didn't they? There was decent diversity, including a Least Bittern.

Then Michael texted me that he was hearing 30 calls a minute on the beach front in Cape May, like a morning flight of Yellow-rumped Warblers with some sparrows. West winds put the birds ocean-side or offshore, I guess. We wondered if today was going to be the big Yellow-rumped Warbler flight, but it was not - just another good day.

I hurried to Cape May Point hoping to glimpse some owls against the sunrise - when lo and behold a Long-eared Owl flew through streetlight level through my headlights, across Broadway headed west, about a quarter mile south of the West Cape May Bridge! Better to be lucky than good.

Owl-watching yielded only an American Woodcock and the fun, unusual sounds of courting ducks on Lighthouse Pond - be sure to spend some time with the Northern Shovelers and their churk-chuurk - ing.

Morning Flight was Yellow-rumpeds and kinglets of both kinds, with scattered other species, and a mixed flock of shorebirds on the dike including Pectoral Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs and, later in the morning, Cameron reported as many as 19 White-rumped Sandpipers up top.

[Michael O'Brien, left, and Scott Whittle throw down on a passing Blue-headed Vireo. We had several Blue-headed's this morning, along with Pines, Palms, Blackpolls, Chipping Sparrows, juncos, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and others. Another highlight was the Yellow-rumped Warbler flying by with a loose tailfeather trailing behind - this bird was labeled a "get on this. . .hmmrp. . .long-tailed. . .thing!" before we figured it out.]

[Scott's dog Monkey supervises. Monkey and Scott have been welcome fixtures at Cape May this fall.]

[Seen any of these lately? Yellow-rumped Warbler at the dike.]

[This Broad-winged Hawk over the State Park this morning shows a missing primary and some tail damage.]

[Two Brown Pelicans over St. Mary's this morning, from the hawk watch.]

I hear from Tom McParland that his Golden Eagle and Josh's from yesterday were both adults, likely the same bird?

In the extra-limital department (since it is north of Cape May), a Sage Thrasher is being viewed right now at Sandy Hook. The following is from Scott Barnes: "A Sage Thrasher is currently being viewed at Sandy Hook (20 Oct).The bird is at Plum Island (accessed via B-lot) and is feeding in Poison Ivy thickets at the southwest corner of the northern cove.In other words, take the crosswalk across the road to Plum Island and head straight (west) until you hit the edge of the large scrub thicket. The bird is being seen here.

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