Thursday, May 3, 2012

A day full of birds

Today was a great day to be in Cape May - and things are certainly starting to warm up for The World Series of Birding on May 12! This morning, our Bird, Bugs & Botany was great on Birds and botany, short on bugs, due to overnight rain and overcast skies. Most of the trees are well into leaf now and it's a lot easier sorting all those oaks out now. There was a wealth of plants to be enjoyed for the first hour, but after that we could resist all those birds calls and songs no more and our second hour (and beyond!) saw us focussing on some nice little feeding groups that were working their way through the canopy. Black-and-white, Black-throated Green, Yellow-throated, Blackpoll and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Northern Parulas, Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos, Scarlet Tanagers - it was a real treat, and all mixed in with the local Eastern Bluebirds, Chipping Sparrows and assorted woodpeckers. A couple of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds made rapid fly-bys and Green Heron and Belted Kingfisher both boosted our lists.

The Northwood Center was pretty busy today too, with Blackburnian and Blackpoll Warblers reported early on and at least one female and four male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks coming to the feeders. Wednesday evening at Northwood also provided me with great views of a superb male Scarlet Tanager and an adult male Baltimore Oriole in the birdbath. Wherever you go in Cape May right now, you are likely to find birds!

As well as all the songbird action, I hear that shorebirds are building up nicely at both Stone Harbor/Nummy's Island and Heislerville and, with clear skies right now, I reckon things will be moving out there - what will tomorrow bring?!

Some recent pictures
It's been a while since I had time to put up a photo gallery of recent pictures, so here's a few that arrived recently.

Bob Fogg was the latest victim of the White-faced Ibis saga at Cape May. While this is essentially a western bird, White-faced Ibises are turning up with increasing frequency here, to the point where it isn't really safe to assume that all those fly-over birds are glossys!  Bob photographed these ibises near his home recently and it was only after he had downloaded the pictures onto a computer that he noticed the bird on the left - a White-faced Ibis, complete with pretty red eye and pale face!  [Photo by Bob Fogg] (Click on picture to enlarge).

Woodpeckers have their own little battles to contend with and if you are there with the camera, you might get lucky - here a Downy Woodpecker fancies its chances with a Red-headed Woodpecker and both provide a great photographic opportunity [photo by E J Nistico].

Having seen several incubating Great Horned Owls along the Delaware Bayshore marshes during the weekend of the Cumberland Eagle Festival, it was interesting for me to receive this photo which clearly demonstrates how much this year's youngsters have already grown. These birds are up in Salem County. [Photo by Jeff White]

For the first few weeks of the Osprey's return, they were certainly one of the most popular targets for camera-toting birdwatchers. I received a lot of photos of this species fishing, but I particularly liked this one as it shows off the Large-mouthed Bass that has been caught so nicely [photo by Joe Siekierski].

I haven't made it over to the back bays to look for birds for several months, so it was nice to hear today that the marshes are already filling up with shorebirds - here, just four of a larger flock of Whimbrel is shoe-horned into the frame - I'm told that there is still plenty of these smart shorebirds to be seen out there [photo by Beth Polvino].

This juvenile, molting into first-summer White Ibis was found at the Wetlands Institute near Stone Harbor earlier this week and typically didn't hang around too long [photo by Cathy Smith].

Another look at the young White Ibis at Stone Harbor. Such birds are a fine example of why you need to be out there and looking at this time of year! [Photo by Karl Lukens]