Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Orange-crowned, Snow Bunting, Other State Park Birds

[Orange-crowned Warbler at Cape May Point State Park this morning. Click to enlarge photos. I can't remember who it was who told me when I was just starting birding that the way to i.d. Orange-crowned is to see if the vent is the brightest part of the bird. He was right.]

Despite the December overcast darkness and an empty parking lot, Cape May Point State Park could hardly have provided a more productive pre-work half-hour than it did this morning. A juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk flushed as I passed through the Red Trail cedars, and then perched. As I approached the aluminum bridge on the Yellow Trail, I heard a sharp tyik and soon tracked down an Orange-crowned Warbler, probably the same one that has been seen in that area on and off. Orange-crowned's call note is pretty distinctive, sharp and somehow more sparrow-like than warbler-like. You certainly know it wasn't a Yellow-rumped when you hear it. Among the other landbirds were multiple Fox Sparrows, catbirds and Brown Thrasher.

[One of the male Eurasian Wigeon fraternizing with the commoners on Lighthouse Pond this morning.]

The state park ponds are still loaded with ducks, including the Eurasian Wigeon (plural), Hooded Merganser, etc. Although there are multiple Eurasians, I kept track and had to look at over 100 American Wigeon before I hit one. A Snow Bunting flew over the dune crossover near the hawk watch, probably the same one Michael O'Brien had seconds before from St. Mary's, or so I later found out.

Doug Gochfeld reported an interesting distant fog-obscured gull at the seawatch - as in Sabine's/Black-legged Kittewake interesting - so Michael and I went over to the Second Avenue jetty to scan for a while. Nothing fancier than Bonaparte's Gulls passed, though they are fancy indeed. A single Laughing Gull migrated south as well. Doug also had a crazy late American Restart at Avalon this morning.

[Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk at Cape May Point State Park this morning, click to enlarge.]

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