Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May At Last!!

It's May at last, the month when we can go out, confident in the knowledge that there will be migrants out there to enjoy! Those faltering days of March and early April are behind us now, the weather is averaging a little warmer each day and the birding hotlines don't stop ringing it seems! There's still a few species not yet in of course - and the heady days of spring falls of migrants are still ahead of us. However, when I wake up now, the local mockingbird has been joined by Orchard Oriole, while Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting will be in the garden any day now. These last three species have been coming in in good numbers this weekend and a scattering of Bobolinks and Summer Tanagers are being reported too.

Red-eyed and Blue-headed Vireos are being increasingly reported in mixed flocks with Northern Parulas, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Black-and-white Warblers and a few Scarlet Tanagers. Villas WMA is proving good for all these birds of late, while Tony Leukering and I had singing Black-throated Green and Nashville Warblers and Acadian Flycatcher there too. A Common Eider at the concrete ship on Friday didn't stay into the weekend and a change in the weather resulted in a drop in tern numbers after Friday had produced two Gull-billed and at least three Black Terns. Saturday warbler arrivals included both Cerulean and Cape May Warblers at Belleplain, while Sunday morninig kicked off with a Yellow-billed Cuckoo at Villas WMA and at least a couple of Black-throated Blue Warbler reports.

A superb, breeding-plumaged male Cape May Warbler at Belleplain State Forest this weekend [photo by Nick Kontonicolas].

The South Cape May Meadows have been worth visiting lately, with Virginia Rails calling on and off and a Stilt Sandpiper there on Sunday. Monday afternoon, Alan Mapes found an Iceland Gull on the beach by the meadows and it was later joined by the itinerant Glaucous Gull that continues to put in erratic appearances.

First-summer Iceland Gull on South Cape May Beach, Monday evening.

Meanwhile, for insomniacs, night migration is proving good at the moment and, as always, is a better way to get a feel for thrush movements in the area. Don Freiday reported a Common Nighthawk over Del Haven this morning and David LaPuma's summary of night movements included plenty of Swainsoin's Thrushes and Veeries. Check out regular shorebird locations right now too - Vince Elia had about 100 Whimbrel at Shellbay Landing off the parkway this morning and a singing Nelson's Sparrow too. Highlight so far today comes from Heislerville, where the season's first Curlew Sandpiper was found by Chris Vogel, on a gravel bar on the west side of the drawn-down lagoon.

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