Saturday, May 7, 2011

Painted Bunting, Migrants A-plenty and Breeding Activity

The highlight for those in the right place at the right time today was a Painted Bunting, found - very appropriately by ear - by Michael O'Brien as he was leading his Birding By Ear workshop this morning. Unfortunately, the bird chose to lurk at private backyard feeders most of the time and we are very mindful of the tolerance of our neighbors close to the Northwood Center who put up with a lot from us birders, peering into bushes with our optics! A group of people were able to view the bird on a couple of occasions during the course of the morning but there were no further reports later in the day, though it may still be in the area.

A handful of people managed to get this morning's Painted Bunting near the Northwood Center. Typically for an over-shooting spring migrant, the bird was a first-summer male, looking rather green with a suggestion of some blue showing through. [Photo by Tony Leukering]

Migration continued a-pace all over Cape May today with reports of a plethora of great birds. No big movement as yet, but just lots of nice birds. Our Field Trip Reports section will give an indication of what is being seen by our sharp-eyed band of Associate Naturalists and Field Assistants, including some great birding up around Belleplain State Forest. The north of the county doesn't feature so much in our updates during the migration season, as there is so much going on at Cape May Point, but there is certainly plenty in the woodlands and marshes up there to keep everyone happy - check out the latest sightings here.

Care should, of course, be taken when viewing breeding birds, especially during the early nest-building and egg-laying stages, but quiet, solitary birding in woodland areas often produces some of the best wildlife experiences. It's easy to forget how quickly in-coming summer migrants get down to breeding duties - this ovenbird popped up right in front of me beside a well-walked trail, while Eastern Bluebirds are already close to fledging their first brood. [Photo by Mike Crewe]

A Mississippi Kite again toyed with people's emotions around Cape May Point; this is a difficult bird to pin down if you're just visiting for the day, but my suggestion would be to hang out at the east end of Stevens Street, overlooking the Rea Farm (please park clear of the road) from 10AM onwards and keep your fingers crossed and your eyes peeled!

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