Friday, September 16, 2011


Fall arrived today! It's official, just ask anyone who was at Cape May today - the birds were dripping from the trees (and the marshes and the skies...). A slight element of skepticism surrounded the Thursday night get together as there was a small measure of uncertainty as to weather the hoped-for cold front would really come. Waking up this morning I checked the thermometer - 48F. 48F!! After soaring temperatures for what had seemed like an eternity, jackets were finally required this morning, but what a day it turned out to be! Blustery winds caused birds to be a little skittish first thing, but the same blustery winds were probably also responsible for birds being in a hurry to make landfall and Cape May Point itself benefited from the fact that birds seemed in no hurry to head further north before settling down.

The stars throughout the whole day today were the warblers - and what a show they put on. From Cox Hall Creek and Higbee's Beach to the State Park and CMBO's Northwood Center, I heard of 27 species of warbler being reported today - of which I managed 23! Some of the highlights included a female Cerulean Warbler at the state park, multiple Black-throated Green and Wilson's Warblers, at least five Connecticut Warblers (including two at Hidden Valley and one in our garden!), a female Golden-winged Warbler at the dike and several Cape May Warblers. As well as the expected dominance in numbers of Black-and-white Warblers, American Redstarts and Northern Parulas, Black-throated Blue Warblers were notable by their presence, with Higbee Dike and the State Park in particular being favored by them. Yellow-throated and Warbling Vireos joined the expected White-eyed and Red-eyeds and multiple Scarlet Tanagers and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were around. Seven species of flycatcher included a late Acadian at Higbee's, Yellow-bellied at Hidden Valley and an Olive-sided at Cox Hall Creek. A couple of Summer Tanagers were reported (Del Haven and Higbee's), a Dickcissel flew over Hidden Valley and the Hawkwatch had a fair day with Red-shouldered Hawk at Midday and a Swainson's Hawk notched up by counter Melissa Roach in the final half-hour of the count period - just reward for a hard day's work!

Brigantine seemed to be quieter today but reports from there included a Yellow-headed Blackbird and a Hudsonian Godwit.

If things go according to plan, there should still be a reasonable number of birds on Saturday. Winds are forecast to be NNE which isn't ideal, but it's better than southerlies!

Seeking warblers on migration is not always the best way to get stunning views - but finding such elusive waifs is often a big part of the fun. This Wilson's Warbler played hide & seek with me for several minutes and, though I did get better pictures, I think this one best summed up the art of warbler-peeping! [Photo by Mike Crewe]

Olive-sided Flycatcher at Cox Hall Creek WMA; this site is rapidly gaining a reputation for attracting this species on migration [photo by Mike Crewe].

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