Thursday, May 26, 2011

Egret Check

With a Little Egret reported from neighboring Delaware recently, it seemed like a good move to go and check out the Snowy Egrets in our neck of the woods, just in case there was an odd looking bird lurking out there somewhere! I took a gamble on one of the nearby creeks lunchtime and found a nice collection of some 45 Snowy Egrets, one Green Heron and a nice collection of Forster's and Least Terns, all tucking into shoals of tiny fish trapped in the shallows. Perhaps inevitably, all the egrets that I could see were Snowies, but it's a timely reminder to keep an eye out for that odd bird that just looks a little different to the rest. How best to do that? Learn your common birds! The better you know the regular birds in your area, the more likely it is that you will spot the oddball when it shows up.

Snowy Egrets were gathered en masse at a Cape May creek today, where small fish were trapped in the shallows by a falling tide. [Photo by Mike Crewe]

A closer look at a Snowy Egret in breeding plumage. At any time of year, Snowies have yellow lores (the bit between the eye and the bill!) while Little Egrets are bluish or gray in this area for much of the year. When in full breeding condition, Little Egrets are yellow on the lores too, so it's then best to look at the ornamental plumes; Snowy Egret back plumes are curled, and they have a shaggy crest on the back of the head. Littles have straight back plumes and just two long, thin plumes on the back of the head [photo by Mike Crewe].

Today's bonus - a nice photo session with Least Terns which were fishing in the creek and allowed me to sit down and take some nice shots. [Photo by Mike Crewe]

Tom Reed found a nice female Wilson's Phalarope in The Meadows yesterday afternoon, which lingered to this morning at least. Karl Lukens managed a digiscoped image of the bird, which remained rather distant at the back of the pool.

Other news from the area includes the continued presence of at least three Mississippi Kites, 10 Purple Sandpipers at the concrete ship, one or two Magnolia, Blackburnian and Blackpoll Warblers still lingering
and a report of an American White Pelican flying over Nummy's Island on Tuesday - but no further sightings that I'm aware of so far. On Wednesday a Mourning Warbler was seen (and heard singing) briefly but well at the Northwood Center but could not be relocated by those looking for it later.

A distinct warming of the weather has brought out a wealth of dragonflies and butterflies this past 24 hours or so - time to get out and enjoy this coming holiday weekend!

A pair of Green Darners at Lake Lily today; the female has her abdomen down into the water, where she will deposit an egg into a plant stem [photo by Mike Crewe]

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