Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Forging Ahead Into Fall

The busy and exciting September period will soon be upon us, which means we're all beavering away and preparing for it - which adversely affects our blogging time, but here's an update on a few sightings I've heard about over the last few days.

So lets start with Saturday and Sam Galick's news that there was three female Wild Turkeys with 15 youngsters along New England Road; doubtless we'll lose a few during the hunting season, but it's nice to know that these inveterate tick-eaters are increasing south of the canal! On Sunday, Bill Boyle reported six Stilt Sandpipers on Bunker Pond, the best count for some time for this species at the point, while Karen Johnson's backyard mister continued its good form up in Eldora with Mourning, Canada and Golden-winged Warblers. Higbee's Beach is starting to be the place for early morning walks now and with Tom Johnson in place on the dike (welcome back Tom!), we can be sure of regular counts and updates from there on our View From The Field page. On Saturday, Sam Galick reported three Black-billed Cuckoos, five Blue-winged Warblers and 15 Blue Grosbeaks around the fields at Higbee's, continuing the good numbers of birds seen there on Friday.

At the state park, at least two Black Terns have been hanigng out, variously alternating between loafing on Bunker Pond and feeding over Lighthouse Pond. One is a nice, black-bodied, if a little speckly now, adult, while the other is a smokey-gray youngster. Amidst all this, there's been a couple of highlights for me too; on Monday we had the awesome spectacle of six Bald Eagles circling over our house. Two were adults, with one of them carrying a fish and three were youngsters - presumably all from the local nest. The other I didn't see so well and may have been this year's or last year's bird, but certainly an interloper and seen off by one of the adults. With both Turkey and Black Vultures and a couple of Ospreys up at the same time, it was quite an event! The other highlight for me came on Tuesday morning when a look at some Higbee's Beach management that needs doing on a parcel of land next to our property turned up a weird-looking warbler which proved to be a Lawrence's Warbler. Never heard of it? Lawrence's Warbler is a peculiar looking bird which is actually a hybrid between Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers. First generation hybrids between these two are called Brewster's Warblers, but Brewster's are fertile and if one breeds with either of the original parent species, second generation young are produced which can show an assortment of plumage patterns which are generally a mishmash between the two species. My guy was a pretty typical bird with greenish upperparts, yellow underparts and a grayish shadow pattern of dark eye patch and throat.

Over on the other side of town, I rely a lot on Chris Hajduk to pass on sightings from the Coastguard Unit area. I hear that up to five Black Terns have been in the channel around the toll bridge on Ocean Drive and - just in time for this post - I just heard that Chris had what may well have been a Brown Booby, which flew north off Cape May around 3:30PM on Saturday - go find it!

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