Monday, February 1, 2010

Winter Birding

[The sign says it all. Chuck and MJ Slugg do a great job with CMBO's bulletin boards, like this one at the Beanery. Photo by Roger Horn, click to enlarge all photos.]

Though there's a limit to how much "car birding" I can stand, yesterday was a good day to slowly drive back roads, looking for birds forced to forage along the roadside by 10" of snow. Today, I bet, will be even better - for those who have it off.

Yesterday, starting at the Cape May County Airport off Breakwater Road, Horned Larks foraged on the newly plowed runways, and a small flock of American Pipits fed among mud clods kicked up by the plows along access roads. Multiple Hermit Thrushes and the common sparrows were easy to find there, too.

[American Pipit, Cape May County airport on Sunday.]

A check of Cape Island's ponds revealed that almost everything is frozen again, packing the birds that remain onto Lily Lake. A pair of Lesser Scaup had joined the flock, which still contains the male Redhead and Eurasian Wigeons, as well as Hooded Mergansers and all the others.

[Eurasian Wigeon follows an American Wigeon over Lily Lake, from one open patch of water to another.]

At the concrete ship, about 20 Bonaparte's gulls foraged in a roiled Delaware Bay. Some of the best birding I found was at a nice little sheltered patch along Sunset Boulevard, where a melted spot attracted a mixed flock of sparrows including Fox Sparrow (they seemed to be everywhere yesterday), plus Gray Catbird, plenty of Yellow-rumped Warblers, and a decidedly cold looking House Wren. Savannah Sparrows foraged along Stevens Street and Bayshore Road in several spots. The Beanery featured a nice flock of Rusty Blackbirds right along Bayshore Road near the railroad tracks, and I hear Mike Crewe found a Virginia Rail there yesterday as well. There was a small pool of open water at the spot.

[Yellow-rumped Warblers fed on eastern redcedar berries, primarily by hover-gleaning to avoid the snow.]

[Between bouts of foraging, this House Wren along Sunset returned to the same sheltered perch repeatedly and adopted this spread-winged and spread-tailed posture, maximizing exposure to the sun.]

Kathy and Roger Horn found all the regular good ducks at Avalon, including one male Harlequin and good numbers of scoters and Common Eiders.

Karen and Brian Johnson braved the Corbin City impoundments (not recommended without four wheel drive and plenty of common sense when there is snow), where a light morph Rough-legged Hawk seen from the platform made the trip worthwhile.

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