Sunday, April 17, 2011

Audubon's Warbler Heads A Star Cast

It was a pretty busy morning at Cape May Point today, with the gardens and tree-lined borders around Lake Lily seeing the first real 'gathering of the clans' for a rare bird this spring. Warblers a-plenty hopped, flitted and even sang all around as last night's south-westerly brought good numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers to the point. Of course, generally in the east, these are going to be Myrtle Warblers - the name for the eastern race of this widespread species; but taxonomy may do a complete three-sixty as it is rumored that Myrtle Warbler and the western counterpart, Audubon's Warbler may again be recognized as separate species in the near future. And it was this latter form that Sam Galick deftly pulled out of the hat today, feeding on the lawn of 508 West Lake Drive. It disappeared for a time, then turned up back at the same place again, before later spending time on the island at the south end of Lake Lily. It was the star bird among a supporting cast that included two Yellow-throated Warblers and much, much more. Tom Reed sent me his following counts for the flock at Lake Lily this morning:

65 Myrtle Warblers, 1 Audubon's Warbler, 2 Yellow-throated Warblers, 3 Northern Parulas, 2 Prairie Warblers, 3 White-eyed Vireos, 2 Ruby-crowned Kinglets, 4 Golden-crowned Kinglets, 8 Eastern Kingbirds, 4 Palm Warblers, 14 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, 3 Pine Warblers, 2 Gray Catbirds, 2 Black-and-white Warblers.

In addition, Tom, sent me these counts of birds passing St Peter'sfrom 06:30-09:00 this morning:

2482 Northern Gannets, 1800+ Double-crested Cormorants, 35+ Common Loons and one Parasitic Jaeger.

A very strong rumor suggests that tomorrow morning it could well be worth your while being at Cape May Point - the weather patterns bode well for a rush of birds!!

Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler at Cape May Point this morning. Besides the obvious trademark yellow throat (which forms a much smaller pale throat mark than the extensive white patch on Myrtle Warbler), note the lack of a white supercilium, gray face, more extensive white edges to the greater coverts and more extensive black blotching on the breast [photo by Mike Crewe].

Yellow-throated Warbler - one of two that at one point were both in the same tree beside Lake Lily this morning. Note the small amount of yellow on the front of the supercilium - I don't know what this means if you want to know what subspecies it is! [photo by Mike Crewe].

Other news today included Prothonotary Warbler at Belleplain, Virginia Rail calling at South Cape May Meadows and a Stilt Sandpiper at the latter site late on Saturday. The Sandhill Crane seen at the start of Saturday morning's Beanery walk did not get reported today.

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