Thursday, October 14, 2010

Western Kingbird, Brant, Eurasian Wigeon, Strong Northwest

 [Western Kingbird over Cape May Point State Park this morning. The unnotched outer primary indicates a hatch-year, probably a female. Click to enlarge photos.]

In a large bit of serendipity, I was fooling with some different camera settings prior to this morning's Bird Walk for All People, and just shooting at everything that flew over. So this medium-sized bird flew over kind of high, I found it with the camera, pressed the shutter halfway to focus (and wonder of wonders my camera's autofocus found it, I've been having some trouble with that), and realized I was staring at a Western Kingbird! Karl Lukens got on it at the same time, and our shouting got several people a lifer. Luck never hurts.

The walk had nice diversity but nothing particularly rare. A flyby Red-breasted Merganser was my first of fall. Afterwards, the flock of Atlantic Brant that briefly settled into Bunker Pond was a surprise, arguably as rare a sighting as the kingbird, since brant seldom sit down in freshwater if they have a choice. Richard Crossley discovered a female Eurasian Wigeon on Lighthouse Pond.  Our walk scrutinized a wigeon there that was stained brownish on the front 2/3's of it's head, but it had the black mark at the gape characteristic of American, not Eurasian, as well as a gray hind third to the head.  Tom Johnson showed me a photo of the Eurasian, and it appeared to be a different bird.

 [American Robin feeding on Eastern Redcedar (technically a juniper, Juniperus virginiana), at Cape May Point State Park this morning. Eastern Redcedar is one of our best native plants for wildlife food and cover.]

[These Atlantic Brant settling in to Bunker Pond were a surprise.]
After this northeaster we're going to have some serious northwest winds, apparently at least through Monday. Serious in this case means high, really too high for many species to migrate, but it is October and birds will move.

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