Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gray Days Hold Off The Birders

A run of dreary, gray days seems to have kept people away as messages of local birds have been a little thin on the ground lately. Despite the weather, though, there has been a few goodies around, starting with the gulls that Tony posted about on Saturday. It was a strange day - three good gull species in a Cape May contect, yet none of them really hung around to be seen again. The Black-legged Kittiwake hasn't been reported since it moved off south on Saturday, the Iceland Gull turned into a mere fly-by (though Chris Hajduk had what was probably the same bird again on Monday at the Coastguard Unit, but viewing conditions were poor). The Glaucous Gull did stay for a while but was selective in who it showed itself to and hasn't been reported since Saturday.

Continuing birds include a Lark Sparrow in Ocean City, along the dune edge at the end of Seaview Road and Waverly Boulevard, up to nine Snow Buntings, two Orange-crowned Warblers and a Yellow-breasted Chat at the state park, Yellow-breasted Chat at The Beanery, two Tree Swallows at Cape May Point, the Dickcissel on Harvard Avenue and the three Eurasian Collared Doves along Whilldin Avenue and environs. The Rufous Hummingbird was still at Goshen at least to January 21st and at least one Black-headed Gull continues along the bayshore in Villas/North Cape May.

The first round of our winter raptor survey on Sunday 22nd produced a rather thin collection of wintering raptors, but I'm tempted to think that this is more to do with a mild winter than a real drop in population numbers. Time will tell. Having birders out in a concerted effort to count raptors always pays dividens in other ways though and reports of interest that evening included Tricolored Heron and American Bittern at Avalon Boulevard and House Wren and Palm Warbler at Dennis Creek WMA. Also of interest, Tom Reed had at least two Red-headed Woodpeckers along Cooks Beach Road on 20th and Clay Sutton reported a Golden Eagle at Corbin City Impoundments the same day.

Finally, a large whale was sadly beached at Ocean City on the 23rd and, I presume, is now dead. There were pictures on the web but not from the right angle to see which species was involved.

So, quiet for birders, but still things to be enjoyed out there - indeed, the topsy turvy mild winter continues to produce surprises with Orange Sulphurs still flying today - Will Kerling had two, I had one at Higbee's Beach and Jimmy Dowdell reported one from Bivalve in Cumberland County - our first record outside of Cape May County this winter. Will Kerling reported seeing a dead Black Rat Snake on the road a week or so back which I presumed could have been an individual that was wintering in a basement or somewhere else relatively warm as it seems pretty early for any reptiles to be about, but I was amazed to see the head of a turtle (presumed either Red-bellied or Painted) taking air in Lake Lily today! Anything is possible it seems!

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