Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dragonflies (and other beasts) on the move

Michael O'Brien spent some time at the Coral Avenue crossover this morning, recording a smattering of flyovers of typical early-fall migrant warbler species (e.g., Black-and-white Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, American Redstart) and two interesting shorebirds: 1 each of American Avocet and Upland Sandpiper. Upland Sandpipers were also noted yesterday at the Cape May Airport by Rick Radis and flying over Sea Grove Avenue by Vince Elia. This is the peak of fall migration timing for Upland Sandpiper, and their musical and diagnostic "whit-a-whit" is readily given by individuals flying over; listen for it particularly at night for your yard bird if that species is not on your yard list yet.

Upon returning to my Villas home late this morning, I noted that Swamp Darners (Epiaeschna heros; New Jersey's largest dragonfly species) were streaming by heading north up the bayshore, so I quickly put my stuff inside and came out with binocular and clickers to tally the movement. As is typical, they were headed into the wind (which was roughly NW). From 11:04 to 12:04, I clicked 3160 Swamp Darners, 9 Wandering Gliders (Pantala flavescens), 4 Spot-winged Gliders (P. hymenaea), 4 Common Green Darners (Anax junius), 3 Carolina Saddlebags (Tramea carolina), 1 Black Saddlebags (T. lacerata), and 14 Eastern Cicada Killers (Sphecius speciosus), the large wasp that captures cicadas to feed to its young. I saw only one dragonfly heading against the grain, that being a male Black Saddlebags. Michael O'Brien also reported "hundreds" of Swamp Darners heading north past the end of Alexander Avenue on Cape May Point.

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