Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Little Night Flight, Drab Duck Clinic Part 3: Blue-winged Teal, and Birdcast Update

[Since we all know our common birds inside and out (right?), we know the rear bird is a hen Mallard.  The bird in the foreground is too small to be anything but a teal. All photos this post from Lighthouse Pond, Cape May Point State Park last Sunday; click to enlarge.]

A few birds were flying over in the predawn today (Wednesday), as this little front passed - I heard Chipping and Savannah Sparrows, Blackpoll and Yellow-rumped Warblers and American Redstarts migrating along Delaware Bay in pre-dawn, although only about a call a minute. Dave La Puma just told me the radar showed a late movement of birds, after the front made up its mind.  And this just in - Tom Johnson reports a pretty special 5 Connecticut Warblers at Morning flight among 300 warblers so far, including 150 Northern Parulas, 70 Blackpolls, not to mention a Red-headed Woodpecker. Mike Crewe's Wednesday Morning walk at Cape May Point State Park found the continuing Dickcissel plus a Cattle Egret at the hawk watch this morning.

The coming weekend still looks killer, although landbird movement on Friday seems like an "if" - it depends on how soon Thursday night the winds shift to northwest.

[How to deal with female or eclipse plumage teal? Blue-winged Teal have big bills, like scaled-down shovelers, but its worth getting to know the range - notice how these birds vary in apparent bill size, with the right and rear birds sporting bigger bills. All of them have obvious white at the base of the bill, and none of them have the buffy line under the tail that Green-winged Teal show. Green-winged Teal have a quite different head/bill shape once you get to know them - smaller bill, steeper forehead, rounder-headed looking overall - plus little or no white at the bill base.]

[Now we're experts on Blue-winged Teal, so what about the bird on the far left? Try this: click to enlarge this photo, and flick your eyes back and forth between the left bird's bill and the far right bird's bill. And is that a line under the left bird's tail? Green-winged Teal.]

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