Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spring Raptors, Build-Up to World Series

Tony Leukering has been spending time this weekend watching the skies over the Rea Farm at the east end of Stevens Street, with some great results! A westerly element in the winds for several days now has no doubt played a part in the interesting raptor movements that have been taking place, not up to Fall standards, but still good for spring in Cape May. Tony's counts included over 100 Broad-winged Hawks over the weekend and an interesting count of 14 Bald Eagles on Sunday. Other counts included 138 Turkey Vultures on Saturday (presumed, wandering, non-breeding birds?) and six Northern Harriers on Sunday. Text messages and alerts mostly involved spasmodic glimpses of up to three Mississippi Kites which roamed Cape May Point over the weekend.

Karl Lukens captured this shot of one of three Mississippi Kites that wandered Cape May Point over the weekend.

As World Series draws closer and more birders head into town, there will doubtless be more news to come. It has to be said that songbird migration is a little quiet at the moment but last year, a fabulous fall of goodies descended on us right on Big Day weekend - so fingers crossed! I managed to take in a good number of the regular birding sites to be found on our CMBO Birding Maps this weekend and can confirm that there's plenty of birds out there. Nummy's Island at high tide is full of Red Knot as well as all the other expected shorebirds, including a Whimbrel on Sunday. Up to two Marbled Godwits are being seen on and off at Two-Mile Landing, just south of Wildwood Crest and Heislerville is chock-full of birds, including intermittent sightings of a Curlew Sandpiper (check out our Heislerville reports in the Field Trip Reports section). A White Ibis was reported briefly from Benny's Landing on Sunday afternoon, but there's been no further reports (this site is off Bayberry Drive, just south of Stone Harbor Boulevard (Route 657), while a Pine Siskin seen heading West at Seagrove Avenue on Sunday morning would be a great bird for Big Day teams south of the canal if it could be pinned down at a feeder somewhere. Also on Sunday, a Western Willet flying past the point was a nice find.

It's been a great spring here for the declining Red-headed Woodpecker; this one was on our Rea Farm walk on Saturday morning [photo by Karl Lukens].

The Glaucous Gull continues through today at 2nd Avenue Jetty and I can personally attest to Black-throated Blue Warbler and Baltimore Oriole outside the Northwood window right now!

Non-bird news of late includes a great show of butterflies throughout the county right now, but especially at Belleplain, where Red-banded, Gray and Juniper Hairstreaks are on the wing, Spicebush Swallowtails are bounding along the back lanes and all four species of elfin can be found with a bit of searching. Tony Leukering reported at least two Spot-winged Gliders passing through over the weekend (a good early date for this migrant species - the NJodes website gives May 13th as the earliest date) and a migratory Red Bat also dropped into the trees at the Rea Farm - an increasingly scarce species here these days.

Red-banded Hairstreak (top) and Juniper Hairstreak (bottom) are both out there waiting to be found right now. Look for them nectaring at Flowering Dogwood bushes in Belleplain State Forest [photos by Mike Crewe].

Keep an eye on the ground too; Moccasin-flower (or Pink Ladies-slipper Orchid) seems to be having a good year this year and is flowering at a number of sites in middle and upper parts of Cape May County [photo by Mike Crewe].

No comments: