Wednesday, September 7, 2011


The hope of a good flight for Labor Day Weekend was snuffed out by the weather, which continues to pulse soggy air from the south into Cape May - not good weather for any of our seasonal counters or our visitors!

A few birds are here to be enjoyed though (after all, this is Cape May!) not least of which is the female Brown Booby which continues in Jarvis Sound. I heard today that the bird has moved further out across the saltmarsh towards the parkway, so may longer be viewable from Two-mile Landing. Bob Lubberman tells me that The Osprey boat trips are still finding it daily though. Running through the last few days, an American Moorhen seen at The Meadows on Friday evening has not been reported again but should certainly be looked for. Apologies, but I just can't call it Common Gallinule - since it isn't one!! Common Moorhen was split recently and for some reason, someone in a stuffy office somewhere who clearly doesn't get out much and look at birds decided that, although all the other 'moorhen-like' birds in the genus Gallinula are called moorhens, the one in the Americas should have the same name as birds in the genus Porphyrio - whacky eh?!! Incidentally, people have been trying to catch me out by suggesting that there are no moors here. True, but clearly they don't know that the moor in moorhen is a corruption of the Old English mere, which means lake - and we do have those, and moorhens do live on them, which separates them from gallinules which live in reedy fringes... OK, end rant and back to the birds!

Sunday saw a couple of reports of Olive-sided Flycatcher from Villas Wildlife Management Area - now renamed Cox Hall Creek WMA, so take note as we shall try to use that name from now on. The site has a new interrpetive map and color-marked trails so if you find a bird there, let us know the trail it's on and that should help to reduce the search for other folks. The same day, a Clay-colored Sparrow was at the Hawkwatch, a Gull-billed Tern flew over and Sam Galick reported 82 Western Willets and four Marbled Godwits on Nummy's Island. On Monday, Tom Reed spent time working through the amazing show of gulls and terns that continues on South Cape May Beach and out in The Rips; Tom's counts totalled: 1755 Common Terns, 1310 Laughing Gulls, 305 Royal Terns, seven Sandwich Terns, four Black Terns and eight Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Two American Golden Plovers, swiftly followed by two Buff-breasted Sandpipers, flew past the Hawkwatch and ensured that Tom Reed set a new record for a New Jersey year list - 338 and still the Fall to go!

This morning, Glen Davis reported both Black and Surf Scoters off Coral Avenue (the first reported from there for several months) and a possible Gray Kingbird was seen in the state park - despite much searching it hasn't been re-located yet. Gray Kingbird is a Caribbean species with northerly populations in the extreme Southeast and Southern USA but has a track record of occasional vagrancy up the East Coast. The discovery of this bird reminded me of some emails I had from Sam Galick recently, flagging up several regional sightings of birds that may well have been misplaced by Hurricane Irene. Such sightings include a number of 'probable' Black Swifts, a Brown-chested Martin at Cape Charles, VA and a Great Kiskadee in New York Harbor. It is certainly worth keeping an eye on the skies for large swifts - if nothing else, you might spot a reorienting frigatebird!

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