Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Foggy Spell Moves On

A spell of foggy weather, brought on by a settled high pressure system that dragged cold air in off the sea, caused a slight pause in good birding activity over the weekend, but Monday finally saw a return to glorious sunny skies and temperatures up in the seventies. Despite the fog, some interesting birds were around to be enjoyed, including at least one and possibly two Ospreys fishing at Lake Lily on Friday, the continuing Black-headed Gull at Miami Beach and intermittent reports of the Broad-tailed Hummingbird at Batts Lane. It seems that the latter was a little tricky over the weekend but I am not sure whether that was due to lack of observer coverage, the weather, or the bird changing its behavior. If sunny and warming weather continues, it is possible that it will decide to head off elsewhere shortly. There have been no reports of the Rufous Hummingbird at Goshen for at least three days now so perhaps she has decided to begin the big push back to the breeding grounds; certainly hummingbirds are on the move now, with northbound Ruby-throateds already pushing their way along the Gulf Coast into the south-eastern states.

Two Piping Plovers were reported from North Wildwood on 16th, reminding us that the barrier islands can actually be a great place to look for northbound migrants in spring. Tony Leukering and I had several Golden-crowned Kinglets, Tree Swallows and an Eastern Phoebe in the 'ghost town' streets of Ocean City recently and Karen Johnson reported a Palm Warbler at Sea Isle City on 14th. Participants on the first Loon Cruise of the season also enjoyed a nice range of birds, including at least four Great Cormorants which were hanging out by Cold Spring Inlet on 16th. Further afield, Tom Reed checked out the impoundments at Corbin City and found three Common Teal, a Eurasian Wigeon and three American Tree Sparrows there on 16th. The latter species has been particularly noticeable by its absence during this mild winter, presumably having chosen to winter further north.

Coastal sea fog on 17th perhaps caused the first sizeable push of Northern Gannets into Delaware Bay, with Don Freiday counting 52 passing south off Norbury's Landing in just five minutes in the evening. The highlight on 18th was an American Golden Plover heard calling over the point by Sam Galick and three Lesser Black-backed Gulls were also on the beach there, while Bob Fogg found an Iceland Gull at Norbury's Landing on 19th.

The warm weather meant it didn't take much persuading to get some of us scouring the north end of the county for other emerging spring wildlife on 19th. I hear that Pat & Clay Sutton notched the first Blue Corporal dragonfly of the year, while I managed the first Juvenal's Duskywing at Dennisville. Small numbers of Blueberry and Holly Azures, Henry's Elfins and Small (Cabbage) Whites are on the wing now and Josh Nemeth found a Fence Lizard out and about at Belleplain. An Eastern Phoebe was in song at Tarkiln Pond, Chipping Sparrows are singing here and there and Pine Warblers seem to be singing all over the place right now.

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