Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Into the unknown

Times are getting very exciting right now. Why? Well, we're heading unavoidably into the end of spring migration - and that's a good thing! Why? I again hear you ask! Well, the back end of migration periods are often very interesting, for it is then that the unexpected could almost be expected to show up. Those lost birds that have been wandering around for several weeks may finally surface somewhere obvious like a migration watchpoint, where they are more likely to be found by a birdwatcher and it is this that makes June (and November of course) such a fascinating time. This morning's walk at the state park was a good case in point. Things generally are winding down as local birds get well into this year's breeding routine - and yet we scored more birds this week than we've had in the past few Wednesdays. And the additions were all nice surprises! A lone adult Brown Pelican flew slowly past us offshore, a single Glossy Ibis was poking in the mud around the pond margins and the Plover Ponds were bristling with late migrating shorebirds, including five Short-billed Dowitchers and really fine White-rumped Sandpiper. Perhaps best of all (since eBird asked me to confirm the sighting!) was a very dapper pair of Caspian Terns, their bills resplendent in brilliant red breeding color, that graced the beach for a while and even went through some pretty heavy petting! Karl Lukens sent me these images from this morning's walk.

An adult Brown Pelican cruises past over The Rips

Caspian Terns are scarce birds here in the spring, so a fired up pair on South Cape May Beach this morning was a nice surprise.

A handful of White-rumped Sandpipers find their way to Cape May in spring; this bird was on the Plover Ponds today.

With weather patterns looking changeable over the next few days, good birds may very well continue to come our way and Cape May is certainly going to be an interesting place to be. Richard Crossley reported three Mississippi Kites over the Beanery on 28th, so they may well still be hanging around in the area. Pine and Yellow-throated Warblers are singing quite strongly around Belleplain State Forest at the moment so second broods may well be getting under way. A Willow Flycatcher was calling from my own yard this morning, which is the first of this traditionally late migrant that I have heard of here this spring, so there's still much excitement to be had!