Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Showers Bring Birds

April is a month famous for its showers and, growing up inland in the UK, I soon learned that showery weather brought birds to my local gravel pits. Spring migrants often pass high overhead, keen to get moving while the weather is good. But faced with a squally patch of weather, they will drop down into a patch of suitable habitat until the weather changes (often less than an hour at this time of year). Such weather prevailed this afternoon and caused a wonderful selection of birds to descend into evergreen cover around the Northwood Center. The majority were Blue-gray Gnatcatchers - perhaps 25 of them flitting after gnats along the roadside out front. With them were some 20 Ruby-crowned Kinglets, 15 Golden-crowned Kinglets, 10 Yellow-rumped Warblers and single Yellow-throated, Prairie and Black-throated Green Warblers, Northern Parula and White-eyed Vireo and at least two Brown Creepers. Lily Lake attracted around 80 Barn Swallows, 15 Tree Swallows and two Northern Rough-winged Swallows - oh, and a Bonaparte's Gull!

Elsewhere today, Tom McParland had four Willets at Shellbay, Tom Reed had a Black Skimmer fly past the concrete ship and the Eastern Shore Nursing Home along Route 9 at Cape May Court House followed a familiar pattern from previous years in attracting a Cattle Egret.

Much discussion followed the reporting of the Yellow-throated Warbler at Northwood, which was of the race albilora with no yellow on the front of the supercilium (sometimes called the supraloral spot). Interestingly, spring migrants in the south of Cape May County seem to be mostly - if not all - of this race, whilst breeding birds in the north of the county are of the race dominica, with yellow at the front of the supercilium. Remember to check out those Yellow-throated Warblers should you be lucky enough to find one!

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