Monday, July 12, 2010

Slow But Sure...

A trickle of migrants is perceptable through Cape May Point now; sure, it's still slow but it's there. Sam Galick has been nobly proving that birds do pass over Higbee Dike this early in the season and he's noting a sprinkling of Baltimore Oriole, Yellow Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a few Bobolinks - all in small numbers yet. Juvenile Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are puting in an appearance too, with one in my yard on Saturday morning and one right outside my office window in a small holly tree yesterday. Perhaps the same pair of Gull-billed Terns keeps popping in and out of Bunker Pond and the mixed pair of Eurasian and American Wigeons continues in the state park.

Following on from Friday's seabird reports, Brian Johnson picked up a moribund Greater Shearwater on the beach at Sea Isle City the same evening; sadly it died later that night.

Down at the Northwood Center, an unholy smell greeted me first thing this morning and I was faced with a massive fish die-off in Lake Lily. This must have started Sunday and would explain the large number of Laughing Gulls showing interest in the lake. Hundreds of bass and Bluegill have succumbed and we have notified NJDEP as this should be checked out. An algal bloom can cause die-offs like this from botulism, but it is perhaps more likely that the fish have either succumbed to a lack of oxygen during the very hot weather we have been having (though it has actually been cooler this past four days or so) or it may be that the welcome rains we had a couple of days ago have washed chemicals off manicured lawns into the lake. Either way, it's not good for the ecology of the site, but hopefully the balance will be redressed.

Gull-billed Terns at Bunker Pond, Cape May Point State Park [Photo by Karl Lukens]

Great Egret enjoying an eel for breakfast! [Photo by Karl Lukens]

Fish die-off in Lake Lily this morning. Such events can be a natural phenomenon, but are often exaserbated when the ecosystem has been artifically altered [Photo by Mike Crewe].

Gotcha!! Someone's been helping themselves to our mulberries of late and this guy was caught in the spotlight last night - guilty as charged! [Photo by Mike Crewe]

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