Sunday, October 4, 2009

Clay-colored, Philly V, White-rumped, and a Lovely Night for a Moon Watch. . .

[Full moon setting over Delaware Bay this morning. Last night was definitely not the night to be looking or listening for migrants against the moon, but perhaps tonight or tomorrow night?]

The latest cold front passed Cape May over night Saturday-Sunday, with accompanying rain, but apparently came through too late in the night to generate much of a landbird flight this morning. I haven't talked to any other nocturnal listeners, but this morning (Sunday pre-dawn) I heard almost, but not quite, zilch. There were some Black Skimmers foraging in the moonlight over the very calm Delaware bay as a consolation prize.

A Clay-colored Sparrow entertained observers at the hawk watch today, and I hear a Philadelphia Vireo was found again today along the trails at the state park around 9:30 a.m. (courtesy of John Crosby). Two Parasitic Jaegers were seen far up the bay, for them, at Reed's Beach this afternoon. I also heard about good falcon shows yesterday and today, in the form of Peregrines and Merlins at the State Park and a cooperative Merlin at Villas during CMBO's walk this morning.

After the weak night flight, I couldn't quite figure out where to bird today, and finally settled on Stone Harbor this morning. The Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary hosted a few migrants, including double digit Indigo Buntings (one of the species I heard overhead in the dark), Common Yellowthroats, and Gray Catbirds. A Blue-headed Vireo and Black-throated Green Warbler stopped there as well. In the plantings at the lighthouse along the North Wildwood sea wall we added Magnolia Warbler, and two Peregrines. Many (200?) white egrets, Snowy and Great, foraged on Nummy Island.

This evening I returned to Stone Harbor. From the free bridge looking north at 5:30 p.m. we counted 12 Marbled Godwits, a really good count for this bird, plus 60 Western Willets, 420 Red Knots, 190 Black-bellied Plovers, and smaller numbers of things like dowitchers, Semi-palmated Plovers, and Dunlin. Go an hour later tomorrow to account for the daily change in the tide.

Stone Harbor Point was riddled with Sanderlings, 1500 plus, amongst which tarried a White-rumped Sandpiper, Western Sandpipers, and a few Semipalmated Sandpipers. At least 6 Piping Plovers remain at Stone Harbor Point (they tend to roost much of the time away from the beach, so scan the sand frequently), and at dusk a Peregrine roosted out in the middle of the sand flats there, as they often do.

A west wind is forecast for tonight, though at 10-15 mph it is perhaps a touch stronger than we'd like for a nocturnal flight. Have to leave it to the birds to decide, but I'd really try to go birding tomorrow if I were you. Certainly, there will be hawks, and almost certainly, there will be passerines. Tomorrow (Monday) night the wind is forecast west going to northwest, in short, just about perfect, but if the birds fly tonight, there will be fewer to migrate tomorrow night. Tuesday morning thus looks at least very interesting, though if the wind does as forecast, it will come around to east-southeast by noon and squelch Tuesday's hawk flight.

Predicting flights is such a risky business - I suggest simply birding every chance you get.

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