Thursday, June 10, 2010

Storm-petrels, Gannets and Admiring the Locals

[Cape May-Lewes Ferry and Wilson's Storm-petrel, the speck with the white rump and pale greater coverts in the left foreground, off St. Peter's this morning. This through 630mm-equivalent lens. Click to enlarge photos.]

Before today's Bird Walk for All People I gave it a brief scan off St. Peter's. Wilson's Storm-petrels were in almost constant view, though the most I could catch together were three, which fed over a pod of dolphins. Northern Gannets were also constant, more than is usual for this time of year. I e-birded 25 for 15 minutes looking, but there were probably more even in that short time.

[Wilson's Storm-petrels again, these digiscoped free-hand at 20X. Note the pattering behavior - the word petrel is derived from the story of St. Peter walking on water. Beware Purple Martins over the ocean as you search for storm-petrels. The martins often forage out there, especially on offshore winds, seeking insects blown over the water.]

Great-crested Flycatchers were vocal and visible at St. Pete's, and a Blue Jay foraging on the dune ignored me the whole time. Single males and females of both Black Scoter and Surf Scoter floated offshore, and later at the state park we had 4 Surfs total.

[Great-crested Flycatcher, St. Pete's this morning.]

[Dune foraging Blue Jay, St. Pete's this morning. Not where most birders are accustomed to seeing Blue Jays.]

The highlight of the walk, for many, was the soaring adult Bald Eagle, in view for almost the entire second hour of the the walk. For me, the highlight was the female Pine Warbler feeding at least one youngster, fuzzy but capable of flight - there was a lot of chipping going on as the youngster begged, and I was pretty sure more than one was involved. A male sang not far away. Pine Warbler eluded this walk last week, perhaps because they had young in the nest and were quiet. We heard at least 2 Blue Grosbeaks, and the Yellow-breasted Chat sang, but only a couple times, both on the Yellow Trail. A glimpse of Yellow-billed Cuckoo was the best we could do, that thanks to Chuck's spotting.

[Northern Water Snake, Red Trail at the state park today.]

I'm off to New England with friends for a few days, Spruce Grouse et. al. in our sights. Tom, Mike and Tony will keep things up to date, I'm sure.

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