Thursday, January 21, 2010

State Park Birds

It suddenly seems to have gone very quiet around Cape May, with not a single text message of bird news being sent for two straight days now. There doesn't seem to have been any news of the two Sandhill Cranes since they were reported flying high to the northwest over Bayshore Road at the beginning of the week. So I thought I better go take a look what was going on! Of course the problem with a migration hotspot is that birds tend to move in response to weather patterns, so if the weather is rather static, so are the birds! Even so, Cape May always has a wealth of birds to enjoy. I took a lunchtime stroll around Cape May Point State Park and along the beachfront, primarily to look for the Snow Buntings, which I still haven't seen this year yet!! My bad luck with them continued, but Karl Lukens reported that the flock was still present yesterday, so no doubt they are out there somewhere. On Bunker Pond, the six Tundra Swans are still easily seen and at least 12 Hooded Mergansers were spread between there and the Plover Ponds. The latter ponds also have four Lesser Scaup in winter residence. The female Common Merganser continues to hang out but can be elusive. Karl told me that yesterday it was on the cut at the extreme east end of the state park, almost bordering the Nature Conservancy property - and it was still there today.

Most enjoyable was an unexpected flash back to the joys of September when I watched five species of raptor soaring round together on a small thermal. Two Turkey Vultures and singles of Black Vulture, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk and Red-shouldered Hawk all briefly came together over the marsh - a fine sight on a chilly - but sunny - January day. Finally, it was nice to see the ducks spread out and enjoying the full smorgasbord of food available to them as all the ponds are finally completely ice-free for the first time this year.

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