Monday, April 5, 2010

Gannets, Meadows Snipe, FOS Skimmers

[Can you find the three Wilson's Snipe Dave La Puma detected during this morning's meadows walk? Click to enlarge photos.]

Reports from this weekend's field trips are now up. Despite Saturday's fog, the Belleplain walk had nice views of a Yellow-throated Warbler and a bizarre Surf Scoter on a small inland lake. The Beanery walk featured Wood Ducks and a perched Merlin. The Maurice River cruises saw lots of Ospreys and Eagles, as you'd expect. Even with the fog the Saturday afternoon Bird Walk for All People got 150% of its 20 species guarantee.

Also up on Field Trip Reports is the list from this morning's field trip at the South Cape May Meadows, a.k.a. the TNC Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge. A neat morning, with 50 species including very early Black Skimmers, two birds flying over the 2nd Avenue jetty heading north, more or less. There's a March 26 NJ record for skimmer on eBird, at Corson's Inlet State Park in 2006.

We bumped into at least 5 Wilson's Snipe, as well as Barn Swallow, single Least Sandpiper and Greater Yellowlegs, and two Savannah Sparrows in agonistic or courtship display along the east path. One of them carried a 1" piece of vegetation into the some dense grass; we're not sure what that was about exactly, but it bears watching. A singing Marsh Wren is also of note - this species sometimes overwinters but doubtfully this year. About 12 Piping Plovers were on the beach, and both loons floated offshore, with many more Red-throated's than Commons, as expected. See the list for other meadows highlights.

Pre-field-trip Dave La Puma and I seawatched from the Concrete Ship and had an actual count of 631 Northern Gannets leaving the bay in 30 minutes. Many Gannets continued as we left, and we saw quite a few from the meadows during the field trip. We also had flyby Lesser Yellowlegs, 6 Snowy Egrets, and the many Red-throated Loons (though fewer than typical) and scoters. The ratio between Black and Surf Scoters seems to have evened to about 50-50.

[Savannah Sparrow at the meadows today. Similar to Song with a view like this, but noticeably shorter-tailed and cleaner white on the eyebrow than Song.]

[Northern Gannets over Scoters, flying past the Concrete Ship at Sunset Beach this morning. We counted 631 in 30 minutes here.]

[You could see a Red-winged Blackbird's breath first thing this morning, but the air quickly warmed up.]

In other news, I just heard of a Salem County Ovenbird heard this morning, don't know of one in Cape May County yet. I also got a report of a Black-and-white Warbler in the dune area of 50th Street in Avalon, yesterday. Mike Hannisian had 3 Pied-billed Grebes at the state park yesterday, which other than the one hanging out on "Lake Champlain" in the Villas have been absent or at least scarce.

And a Black-headed Gull continues at Miami Beach as of last evening at Sunset, when a few of us shared a decadent evening of eating and birding on the bay. Beware, some Bonaparte's Gulls have full hoods now, so just because it's smaller than a Laughing Gull and has a full hood does not mean it is one of the Black-headeds.

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