Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cape May Bird Chaos + Mammals

[This Northern Mockingbird was jerking the Swainson's Hawk's chain today . . . or is that its tailfeathers? I have it from reliable unnamed sources close to the situation that likely the same mocker was literally jerking the same Swainson's tail YESTERDAY, only then the identity of the hawk was unrealized by the observers, including the informant. Understandable - when you see a perched buteo in the east, you're not thinking about ruling out Swainson's. This photo was taken today at the Beanery by Michael O'Brien, click to enlarge all photos.]

Jeesh, you daren't get out of range of Cape May sometimes. I was out on a pelagic trip today off the Cape and suddenly got within cell phone range of shore - and the text messages started flowing in, first featuring a Swainson's Hawk seen today from the hawk watch, then from the meadows, then from the Beanery, then from the Beanery yesterday. . .well, that last came courtesy of someone on board the pelagic who yesterday watched a tricky buteo get picked on by a mockingbird. He had a photo and. . .

[Small wonder the Swainson's tail looks so ragged, since the mocker was grabbing it in its bill and yanking on it. Photo by Michael O'Brien. The Swainson's is sleeping on Cape Island somewhere right now, and many will be looking for it tomorrow.]

[Other text messages were all over Western Kingbirds - one of which was this one found at the Villas WMA. From Roger Horn, who took the picture, plus Kathy Horn, Steve Weiss, MJ & Chuck Slugg, Dave Lord, Cindy & Shaun Bamford, and Janet Crawford, he was "in his usual (recently) place, off the east path by the red barn."]

And there was ANOTHER Western Kingbird today besides the one pictured above. The second was found the TNC Cape Island Preserve off Wilson Avenue, which is off of Broadway in West Cape May. The bird was at the far (east) side of the field off Wilson Avenue this afternoon, according to Glen Davis. Other bird news today included a Virginia Rail, reported by Vince Elia and apparently found by Michael O'Brien at the entrance to the Beanery today. And a Northern Goshawk was seen to go down in the South Cape May Meadows this afternoon.

[Tony Leukering photographed this Purple Sandpiper at Avalon today.]

[One of about a dozen Parasitic Jaegers during the Waterbird Society Meeting pelagic trip off Cape May today, this one was definitely visible from shore at Avalon, if anyone was looking. . .Photo by Don Freiday.]

[Easily 1500 Northern Gannets foraged within 15 miles of the Cold Spring Inlet today, this was one of them. Photo by Don Freiday.]

[We passed into several groups of Bonaparte's Gulls on the pelagic, which sometimes included other birds like Laughing Gulls and a few lingering Common Terns (the vast majority of medium-sized terns right now are Forster's). Here a first year bonie leads an adult. Photo by Don Freiday.]

[The best bird on today's pelagic was a mammal - a Fin Whale about 12 miles off Cape May. We had at least one other Fin on the trip. Fins look long, low, and have the prominet pointed fin that gives them their name. We saw one from shore off the meadows two Junes ago. Photo by Don Freiday.]

Speaking of mammals, I hear Doug Gochfeld et. al. had a big Coyote cross Bayshore Road this evening while they, and I and a bunch of others, sought the Swainson's after getting off the boat. And at dusk, Doug let me know about three River Otters in the meadows while he and others maintained an owl vigil.

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