Monday, December 14, 2009

Cackling Goose, Oriole, CBC's, and Farewell to Ivory and Swainson's

[Michael O'Brien photographed this Cackling Goose at the Shunpike Road pond. Shunpike runs south off New England Road, the pond is on the right (private property) before you reach the t-junction at Stimpson/Route 645. Click to enlarge photos.]

You're gone for a week and the Ivory Gull leaves, the Swainson's Hawk leaves. . .it all just falls apart.

Both of those birds, one must admit, were pretty well behaved. The Ivory Gull stayed 13 days after its discovery, last seen on Wednesday, December 9. The Swainson's arrived November 7 (and was identified November 8), and remained a full 30 days until it was last seen circling with vultures on Sunday, December 6 by Sheila Lego and Marleen Murgitroyde.

I'm almost tempted to say the birding will be predictable for a while, but clearly history refutes that notion. The Christmas Bird Count period begins today, with the Cape May CBC happening this Sunday, Belleplain the following Sunday, and Cumberland the Sunday after that. Tom Reed has even founded a new CBC, somehow carving an unsurveyed 15 mile diamater circle out of southern NJ and naming it for its center at Mizpah (Atlantic County). That count will be January 2. Plenty of opportunities for some CBC hero to find the next good bird.

But they're all good, as we often say. All the regulars, including some of our Eurasian Wigeon herd, were found by Karl Lukens et. al. on CMBO's regular Saturday Cape May Point walk, check out the list in our new Field Trip Reports section.

CMBO's programming schedule winds down a bit in mid-winter, but there's plenty of good stuff to do in January, including our annual Kick off Your Year List in Cape May trip January 1 (change the calendar to January 2010 to see the trip) - if you want to come along on that one, sign up by December 24, as both CMBO Centers close between Christmas and New Year's.

[Pat Sutton found this female Baltimore Oriole foraging in the cedars near the hawk watch platform on Saturday. Note that the face is duller than the breast, an important mark to separate this species from Bullock's Oriole, which is brightest on the face and "jaw," or malar area.]

I've been in wintry north Jersey for most of the past week hunting deer and conducting my annual winter finch survey. Generally, if finches are around, there's no better way to detect them than remaining still and quiet - not to mention being up in a tree in northern NJ! Things are not looking good, or rather, sounding good - I heard exactly 2 Purple Finches in 40+hours hard listening. No crossbills, no siskins, no redpolls, no grosbeaks, no nuthin', which pretty well matches Ron Pittaway's finch forecast. I did see a bear, but that's an unlikely flyover in Cape May.

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