Monday, March 22, 2010

First Monday Meadows Walk of 2010 + Weekend Notes

[I never really thought about how long the tarsus on a Little Blue Heron was until I took this picture, corner of Academy and Seashore Roads today. Click to enlarge photos.]

After a spell of watching Northern Gannets, Red-throated Loons, Long-tailed Ducks, Forster's Terns, Bonaparte's Gulls &c. at Sunset Beach during a downpour, we managed to get in the inaugural CMBO Monday Meadows walk, as we hopefully will every Monday from now until mid-November. TNC has drawn a lot of water off the meadows, a.k.a. the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge - and it continues to pour out - making the habitat look especially good for shorebirds, which is TNC's objective. It seems to shout Pectoral Sandpiper, or even Ruff.

In the shorebird department, we flushed 3 Wilson's Snipe and had separate groups of 2 and 3 Greater Yellowlegs fly in, as well as 2 Piping Plovers on the beach where, by the way, you can't get to the ocean without wading the as yet unnamed pond that has formed below the dune. An A4Y alternate plumage - adult breeding in plain language - Lesser Black-backed Gull joined the other gulls on the beach while we watched. Duckage was diverse, including 2 pairs of Blue-winged Teal, 1 of Northern Pintail, and a single Ring-necked Duck. Belted Kingfisher, Tree Swallow, nice groups of Green-winged Teal and shovelers, a little of this, a little of that. . . the full list for the meadows walk is up on Field Trip Reports, as are a set of reports on CMBO's Sunday excursions to Turkey Point, Corbin City et. al.

[The Cattle Egret was unimpressed by the LBHE's legs. This pair has been reliable at their spot the past few days, but they go "somewhere" at night, as they have not been at the pond/flooded lawn early in the morning or at twilight when I drive past.]

A male Purple Martin foraged with Tree Swallows over the very wet Beanery post-walk today.

Yesterday morning I cycled along the Bay, bumping into both adult Black-headed Gulls in the vicinity of Cox Hall Creek, along with several of Cape May's birders. The radar was really lit up with migrants Saturday night, and I wondered to Dave LaPuma, what were they? I proposed yellow-rumpeds, Pine Warblers and other early landbirds; he suggested ducks? Shorebirds? A pile of yellowlegs apparently appeared at Turkey Point Sunday morning, perhaps they were responsible for some of the marks on the radar.

Yellow-throated Warblers were apparently not part of the migration - plenty of people were looking for this likely next arrival, but none were found. More Pine Warblers appeared overnight, with a single at Villas WMA in the morning, and a half-dozen or more in Belleplain still singing sporadically in the afternoon.

[Yellow-rumped Warblers are successful at least in part because they are adaptable feeders, e.g. this one finding insects under house shingles in the Villas yesterday.]

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