Friday, October 8, 2010

Waves of Birds

 [Immature White-crowned Sparrow looms over a little Chipping Sparrow at dawn, Higbee Beach WMA this morning. If sparrows challenge you (who don't they challenge?), consider CMBO's Sparrow Workshop October 16-17. Click to enlarge.]

What a wonderful day, so wonderful it would be impossible to name all the birds in this space. For starters, you could check our Higbee Beach walk list, which at 72 species and MANY individuals rather eclipses last weeks 18-or-so species.  What a difference weather makes, in this case northwest winds all night that yielded dozens of flight notes per minute at some locations in Cape May overnight, and spectacle factor in the form of waves and waves of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Palm Warblers, flickers, and more at Higbee and elswhere this morning.  Our Higbee Beach WMA highlights included my first White-crowned Sparrow of fall, an open-perched Scarlet Tanager, great looks at Black-throated Blue and -green Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets hover-gleaning right next to our group, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, many Purple Finches, a heard Pine Siskin, a heard and glimpsed Grasshopper Sparrow in the tower field's ragweed. . .I heard about Connecticut Warblers, a bird you always hear about it seems. . .

Tony Leukering was out on a boat off Delaware this morning, and reported many passerines offshore, including Winter Wren, Palm Warblers, Song Sparrow, Hermit Thrush and Gray Catbird.  Offshore is in part where Cape May derives its morning flight birds. . .which reminds me, when you're at Higbee be sure to stop by the morning flight platform to see our new notebook of interpretive materials, including birds-in-flight photos, put together by our George Myers Field Naturalist, Kaitlyn Marczi. Our interpretive naturalists are on the morning flight platform every morning until the flight stops - come early for the best birding. The platform is reached by bearing right on the dirt lane at the end of New England Road.
[Where's the green?  Where's the black throat? This Black-throated Green Warbler, almost certainly a young male (hard to rule out adult female), played hide and seek on the edge of the second field at Higbee, but eventually gave crippling views. The black throat is veiled by white feather tips. First year females have virtually no black on the throat, but the yellow face is an excellent mark.]

Finally, in the coming soon department: I've been threatening to post my "16 ways to tell a Sharp-shinned from a Cooper's" . . . and hopefully sometime over the weekend I finally will.  Now's the time to learn these two. Yesterday you couldn't swing a binocular at the state park without hitting one or the other, and I'm sure that's how it was today.

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