Saturday, September 25, 2010

Avocet, Marbled Godwits, Duck Clinic Part 2 + Tomorrow

 [American Wigeon should not pose an i.d. problem any time of year, except with Eurasian Wigeon.  Note the blue-gray bill with dark tip, which is distinctive for the wigeon(s), and rufous-brown sides on these non-breeding plumage males; females are similar but duller. If these were Eurasian Wigeon, their heads would be brown, not gray, and that bit of black on the base of the bill would not be there. This photo teaches a bit of a lesson in duck wing topography - the stretching bird in back shows the extensive white in wigeon wing coverts, but note how on the front bird the folded wing has all but disappeared amid the body plumage. Lighthouse Pond at Cape May Point State Park today, click to enlarge.]

Doug Gochfeld found an American Avocet in Cape May Harbor today, seen from the fish plants along Ocean Drive, feeding in shallow water. Bill Boyle made the long walk out to Stone Harbor Point this mornng, finding 5 Marbled Godwit, 300+ American Oystercatchers, and over 50 Caspian Terns.

The good duck collection continues at the state park, and a Sora was ridiculously cooperative at Lighthouse Pond east, i.e. the one with the platform overlook along the red trail. Nothing more on the Black-bellied Whistling-ducks since last Sunday, apparently, but the King Eider continues at the Concrete Ship. By the way, the best place to see the eider, if it is actually on the ship, is from the end of Alexander Avenue in Cape May Point.

So this front is supposed to pass Cape May shortly and stall, bringing northwest winds going to northeast by dawn Sunday.  The wind won't shift to a north component until midnight or later, but that isn't so important - "our" birds, i.e. the birds that wind up in Cape May tomorrow, are already under north winds in northern NJ or beyond. Melissa counted a few Peregrines today, expect more tomorrow, double-digits. There will be more landbirds tomorrow too.  I'm mildly curious about the possibility of the cold front stalling over Cape May, and what sort of bird accumulation that could cause if it happens. Nobody is forecasting that, and anyway it seems to be a "dry" front,  i.e. it won't be raining to ground birds.

[Pied-billed Grebes are known for submerging all but their heads. This one pursued tiny fish in front of the bird blind on the Cape May Point State Park Red Trail today - note how far back the legs are positioned. This bird did scissor kicks for propulsion, at least some of the time. Click to enlarge.]

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