Friday, August 19, 2011

Some You Win, Some You Lose!

Being in an area so thick with good birds gives us locals a difficult dilemma - how do you be in all the places all of the time so that you don't miss the 'big one' when it shows up? Well of course, you can't. All you can do is learn from past experience and develop a skill for knowing where to be at the right time. OK, so you're at Higbee dike for dawn; come 10AM you venture over to the state park to check the pools; later you head up to Nummy's Island for high tide and somewhere in between you take in Villas WMA if the weather is good, or the airport if it's been raining...

So, how in all this do you decide where to be at Noon on a Sunday, in the middle of the tourist season in mid-August? Shopping somewhere out of town right? Or at home doing those household chores that need sorting out; a bit of gardening; dealing with emails... If you were doing any of those you made the wrong choice last Sunday! It turns out that Bernard Master new what to do though; he took the family down to play mini-golf at Sunset Beach! Being a shrewd family man though, he also took his binoculars and - luckily for us - his camera. What we all missed was superb views of a Manx Shearwater which spent at least 30 minutes flying around the concrete ship and plunging for fish with the local Laughing Gulls! Sibley's The Birds of Cape May lists just five records of this species to the end of 1994 around Cape May, with only one of them reported from land, so this is a fabulous find for Bernard and another one to have to catch up on for the rest of us!

Manx Shearwater at Sunset Beach, August 14th [photos by Bernard Master]. Manxies can be confused with Audubon's Shearwaters, but at this range they are easy to tell apart. Note the white undertail coverts (darker in Audubon's) and note the white crescent curling up into the dark upperparts behind the eye. The bottom picture with a juvenile Laughing Gull gives a good size comparison.

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