Thursday, November 19, 2009

Avocet; Harlequins; Sparrow Clinic Goes On; & the Next Last Big Day

[Continuing our marsh sparrow theme (see posts below), here's another "sharp-tailed" sparrow, a Saltmarsh Sparrow photographed this morning at Jake's Landing. This bird shows obvious dark streaking across the breast, and bright orange color on the face which contrasts with the pale buffy breast. Click to enlarge photos.]

Karl Lukens just sent a text message along that there is an American Avocet at the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge, a.k.a. South Cape May Meadows, at the "gull island," which is east of the east path. A nice bird at any season.

Chris Hayduke reports the 5 Harlequin Ducks continue at Poverty Beach near the pilings. Do NOT walk up the beach past the Coast Guard's No Trespassing sign, or you will be detained. A good scope and some patience makes pretty much any bird around the pilings identifiable from the legal side of the sign.

An hour at Jake's Landing this morning before work was productive, yielding at least three Saltmarsh Sparrows, two Seaside Sparrows, and an adult Bald Eagle perched on the cedar tree last winter's Rough-legged Hawk liked. Flyover groups of shorebirds included Black-bellied Plovers, Greater Yellowlegs, and a dowitcher sp., and two Hooded Mergansers hummed by as well. Where the woods meets the marsh, a little pishing brought in a Pine Warbler, three Red-breasted Nuthatches, two Winter Wrens, Brown Creeper, and Golden-crowned Kinglets. A vigil at the end of the road at Jake's Landing the night before last yielded no Short-eared Owls, but Dave Lord did pick out a flying American Bittern.

We'll find out this weekend if the Monday past was indeed the last "big day" of fall 2009, starting tomorrow and going through Sunday. A cold front is supposed to pass late tonight with rain to our north, which should mean few passerines on Friday, BUT northwest winds are predicted all day Friday, all night Friday night, all day Saturday, and into Saturday night, staying north or maybe northeast through Sunday morning. Figure on late season raptors Friday and Saturday, and landbirds Saturday and maybe Sunday. Looks like a good weekend to come to Cape May, or to bird anywhere.

[My quick initial glimpse of this Pine Warbler was followed by the "huh?" moment these drab ones usually cause, before I got a better look and figured out what it was. Pine Warblers sometimes linger for south Jersey Christmas Bird Counts.]

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