Wednesday, April 6, 2011

With The Birds Come The Birders!

Birds are arriving daily in good numbers now and each morning is full of promise as we scour Cape May to see what has arrived or what is still passing by offshore. I have just posted a whole bunch of Field Trip Reports, so please do click here to see what's being seen on our walks - it doesn't all find its way to this page!

With the birds come the birders and I've something of a backlog of pictures from other birders to share; so here's an unashamed picture gallery, including some that I put in simply because they reminded me to make a comment about them (and because they're good picture of course!)

Yellow-crowned Night Herons have been trickling in over the past few days, but this is the first photo I've seen so far this year of a newly-arrived, smart adult [photo by Marvin Hyett].

A lone American Coot was at Bunker Pond last week and this bird at The Meadows on Saturday may well be the same one. American Coots don't breed with us and ship out fairly early in the spring. This year we lost most of them when all the ponds froze over and they didn't come back - can't say I blame them! [Photo by Chris Borkowski].

"Looks like a tiny Dunlin" is not a bad way to think of a Western Sandpiper. Will Kerling took this group of Dunlins and Western Sandpipers at Stone Harbor Point last Saturday.

The following pictures were all sent to me by Mike Hannisian after Saturday's photo walk and seemed worthy of comment:

These two American Oystercatcher photos are wonderful as they show a bird bouncing along on a single leg - in both shots it's completely clear of the ground! Birds often roost on one leg as we all know (and this bird had two fully-functioning pins) but they also frequently hop along somewhat awardly on one leg, when using two would be so much easier you would think. I've often pondered on this and have no idea why they would do it.

This 'blonde' female Mallard has frequented Cape May Point for some years now, but I've never known anyone photograph it! It's worth being aware of any oddball birds like this on your local patch so that you don't fall into the trap of thinking it might be something rare. Mallards in particular are prone to throwbacks to a domestic past, thanks to many generations of tinkering by Mankind. Khaki Campbells, Indian Runners and those white things in your local park - they're all Mallards but it may not always be immediately apparent!

...and if you ever get fed up looking at Mallards - just remember, they're equally as attractive as everything else on the pond!

Those who attend my walks around Cape May Point will know that I bang on about 'Polish' Mute Swans a lot! They're the form with the pinkish rather than black legs and which have white down as a hatchling rather than gray. This picture shows a female, as told by the small knob on the bill at this time of year (though some unpaired males can look like this in spring too) and has pink legs. I read on the internet that the pink leg thing is only found in females, which seemed odd to me as it would mean that all of the young swans hatched at Cape May Point last year were females. However, it is clear by looking at paired birds at the state park right now that this is not so - the males there have pinkish legs too.

One final comment for those enjoying Bald Eagle webcams at the moment; I was reminded by several people that we have our own webcam right here in New Jersey too! So check out the Duke Farms eagle pair if you want a change of scenery:

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