[Least Tern parent and chick, South Cape May Meadows yesterday. Some tern chicks are now fledged, and can be seen following parents around. Others, like this one, have to wait a few more days. Click to enlarge photos.]
I'm just back from a week section-hiking the Appalachian Trail, and in only a week much changes in Cape May - much besides the appearance of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks (see below). In particular, the Least Terns at the meadows are growing like crazy, and very heartening, shorebird numbers are not only up, but a significant number were using the meadows to forage yesterday, as opposed to just flying over, including dozens of Least Sandpipers, a few each of both yellowlegs, and a Pectoral Sandpiper. Yesterday's meadows list is up on Field Trip Reports.
Birds on the AT were quiet last week, though I managed 87 bird species from New York to the Delaware River (not to mention six Black Bears). A good example is American Redstart - I'm sure I hiked past over a hundred, yet only detected 3, none singing. Redstarts and other early migrants are molting now, and very secretive. Landbird migrants have been trickling through already, a prelude to what a good August cold front can do.
[Wait, Glossy Ibis don't have light wing patches. . .this shot demonstrates how the eye can be deceived, in this case by a bird with most of the underparts in the shade, but just a wingtip catching the sun. One of many ways birds seen only briefly can be misidentified. South Cape May Meadows yesterday.]