Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Candy Store

You know, many people have been coming into the Northwood Center of late and asking "what will tomorrow be like?" "Where should I go tomorrow morning to see birds?". Well, the answer is quite simple really; never mind the weather; never mind the wind direction. It's September, it's Cape May - there will be birds!! Today was one of those dull, dreary, drizzly days, when you might consider staying in, or doing a little shopping. And yet, those who went out on a south-east wind in light drizzle found birds a-plenty! It really is quite simple - Cape May in September is a candy store - come on in and enjoy the pick n' mix!!

After three nights of North-west winds we've seen a remarkable cavalcade of warblers and other songbirds at Cape May and - to be honest - we've come close to being spoilt! The smiles on faces, high fives and all round bonhomie has been awesome, and all thanks to those stunning feathered waifs. What a place; it really is a candy store of treats where you stand still and allow the delights to drift by on a conveyor belt of fun. Higbee's Beach in the morning, East Lake Drive at Cape May Point in the afternoon and, today, the boardwalk at Cape May Point State Park. A stunning array of warblers just inviting you to share space with them for a while.

So, how do you engage yourself with the treats from the Candy Store? Simply by being here! This wonderful green-backed Chestnut-sided Warbler was right beside my car as I attempted (without much luck for nearly an hour!) to head home this evening. [Photo by Mike Crewe]

Lunch time at Cape May Point State Park saw the red trail awash with birds, feeding avidly to prepare for the next leg of their journey south. At least two Veeries were in the Red Cedar grove at the fork in the trail....[photo by Mike Crewe]

....and the Veeries were accompanied by this Ovenbird, which posed nicely for me by walking up a nearby branch like a miniature Moorhen! Don't forget that not all birds like the 'media exposure' of an (albeit) appreciative crowd. Sometimes you have to break away quietly and go check the shadows, where these guys are lurking. [photo by Mike Crewe]

The headline act at the State Park today were the Prairie Warblers, a number of which were so close to me that the six foot minimum focal distance on my camera meant that I couldn't get pictures of them! Prairie Warblers - along with Common Yellowthroats and often Yellow Warblers - will often hunt for insects at knee level or below, so don't forget to scan around yourself from time to time. [photo by Mike Crewe]

Along with the warblers, Monarchs were hanging out at Cape May today and waiting for the weather to change. I ran into Will Kerling today who was doing one of his regular butterfly transect counts at the State Park and had logged well over 1100 Monarchs!!  A sight well worth seeing as the butterflies feed up on Giant Sunflower (above) Common Ivy and Boneset. Up to 50 were roosting in Common Ivy at the Northwood Center today too. [photo by Mike Crewe]

As something of an aside, I was surprised to find this Eastern Kingbird - clearly just out of the nest - at Rio Grande a few days ago. Clearly this species has had a good breeding season and has continued to produce young well into September. [photo by Mike Crewe]
 Just as a quick aside, Don mentioned the moths that are present in abundance at Higbee's Beach in a recent post; the species concerned is Lucerne Moth (Nomophila nearctica) a widespread North American species with a track record of dispersive, migratory behavior (though there is one less now if you look at Don's American Redstart photo!

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