Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Birding Update

Every year spring takes us through a rough ride of peaks and troughs; a hint of sun, the first Pine Warbler in song, then a day of cold wind and rain. Another warm sliver of hope, three Laughing Gulls, then a chilly wind off the Atlantic Ocean! And so it has been this year. Winter remnants currently include an Orange-crowned Warbler which is being reported on and off at the state park still, while one at the Northwood Center on 8th was more of a surprise and perhaps an indication of birds starting to move around a little more. Ducks still crop up regularly in text messages and these birds are certainly heading north right now (just in time for our workshop on this very subject with Pete Dunne - click here!). While the commoner species are still present in good numbers at favored sites, oddities (for us at least!) such as Common Goldeneye and Common Merganser have cropped up recently and up to six Harlequin Ducks have been not far away at Atlantic City.

The first real sign of a slow but steady advancement of the seasons is usually taken as the first report of Laughing Gulls at Cape May. A light-hearted LAGU Award is put out to the finder each year, and this year it goes to Jim and Linda Waldie who reported three Laughing Gulls from Cape May Ferry Terminal on March 10th. Perhaps the same three birds were noted off Miami Beach by Tony Leukering on 12th. The latter site still continues to host a Black-headed Gull which was last reported on 11th but is probably still in the area. Three Pine Warblers were singing along Jake's Landing Road on 8th and would appear to be newly-arriving birds. On 12th, at least six Tree Swallows and an Eastern Phoebe were in Ocean City.

Our wonderful Broad-tailed Hummingbird remains at Batts Lane this morning, though I gather some people are having to wait quite some time for a showing. Perseverance should pay off however. In contrast the whereabouts of the Western Grebe has become somewhat obscure. While I haven't personally heard of a definite sighting since last Friday, the waters have been a little choppy and there is a lot of loons around right now so would-be finders need to be very careful with attention to detail. No reliable pattern of movements has been shown by this bird, making it very hard to pin down, but we will let you know if it gets confirmed as still present.

The female Dickcissel continues - rather elusively - at the Northwood Center feeders, while the female Rufous Hummingbird was still at our Goshen Center to the weekend at least (she seems to have been overshadowed of late by news from Batts Lane!!). Finally, for now, an Osprey was reported belatedly as having been seen last Friday (9th) which is about the right time for the first of spring, but this year there have been one or two winter records so it is hard to be sure.

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