Monday, June 21, 2010

King Eider, Ibis and Chicks on the Beach

[What month is this? Besides the scoters and Common Eider hanging around Cape May of late, this immature male King Eider put in an appearance for the meadows walk this morning. Click to enlarge photos.]

You never know what you'll see in June - witness the immature King Eider we had this morning during the CMBO meadows walk, held every Monday at 7:30 a.m. at TNC's Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge. Initially off the Bunker at Cape May Point State Park, the King Eider drifted rapidly over towards Cape May City. What's even more interesting is that Kyle Rossner had this bird a bit north of the Cape May canal on Sunday. Kyle, a Stockton College student and volunteer for CMBO, reports: "I was at the beach at the end of the road that leads to the ferry when I heard the people next to me talking about the "seagull" just floating out in the water. I looked and it was obvious that it was neither a seagull, nor a baygull, but rather something much more interesting. I got on my kayak and went for a closer look, and got this photo of a young male King Eider." Kyle's photo is below. I'd bet this is the same bird that wintered off Poverty Beach.

36 Glossy Ibis in total flew over the meadows, past the lighthouse, and apparently onward to Delaware during the course of the morning, beginning with a flock of 17 pre-walk that never even wavered as they went. Failed breeders or non-breeders already on the move, one presumes.

Beach birding at the meadows was great, featuring 2 brand new broods of American Oystercatchers accompanying their parents, one with 3 chicks, the other 2, as well as a single Piping Plover chick with 3 adults nearby. We had another Piping Plover on the plover pond behaving as if he were trying to distract some nearby Fish Crows, i.e. from his chick, which we never saw. Black Skimmers were back on the beach, with at least one engaged in active scraping in the beach area between the two meadows paths. Other interesting birds included a flyby Baltimore Oriole; a glimpsed Yellow-breasted Chat picked out by Chuck Slugg; singing Orchard Oriole, Blue Grosbeak; the perennial Indigo Bunting on the wires west of the parking lot; adult Bald Eagle; and a curious apparent increase in Gadwall numbers, to 10 or more, including a group of 4 males in a flock together.

["I think I knew this guy. . ." Fish Crows on break from harassing the plover and oystercatcher chicks, South Cape May Meadows this morning.]

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