Thursday, November 1, 2012

A day packed with birds...

Judging by all the text messages I was receiving, it was a really birdy day around Cape May today and it looks set to continue into the weekend. Though Cape May Point State Park was still closed today (it re-opens tomorrow), our hawk counter, Tom Reed, was allowed into the park to continue his counts, and he had quite a day of it. Starting with a White-winged Dove heading north-east, he later tallied five Evening Grosbeaks heading west, a handful of Cave Swallows and a fly-by Northern Goshawk, but for sheer spectacle, the Sharp-shinned Hawk flight of nearly 1000 birds will take some beating. I witnessed some of the Sharpie action further round on the dune-crossovers early morning; here the birds were flying very low, swooping through gaps in the vegetation - sometimes in groups of four or five at a time!! Pine Siskins and House Finches continue to pour through the point and head across the bay and today, Michael O'Brien managed to add White-winged Crossbill to the ever-growing list of northern finches that have passed this way this fall. Michael also reported a probable South Polar Skua which came into view briefly through a gap in the dunes from his watchpoint. Black-legged Kittiwake and Cave Swallow were at the re-opened Avalon Seawatch today and an odd bunch of four small Canada Geese types on Lake Lily appeared to be a family unit consisting of two Cackling Geese and two small Canadas which perhaps were hybrids - an interesting group. Late afternoon saw a real sign that November was upon us with the first Golden Eagle of the season heading south toward the point then turning back north - more will doubtless follow!

The Northwood Center feeders have been manic with bird activity today - Pine Siskins, Purple Finches (including some wonderful adult males), Red- and White-breasted Nuthatches and a whole array of juncos, towhees and sparrows have been feeding all day, while a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker remains faithful to one of the elm trees. My own yard was full of birds too this morning, including American Woodcock, Northern Parula and - surprisingly - more Palm than Yellow-rumped Warblers. A late Eastern Wood Pewee was beside Lake Lily this morning - Sibley's Birds of Cape May flags November 7th as the latest date for this species here. Finally, my day ended somewhat strangely with a Black-throated Blue Warbler, then the sight of a Blue Jay eating a Pine Siskin at the Northwood Center - unfortunately I did not see if the jay caught the siskin alive but it seems likely that it did.

Well, hopefully that all whetted your appetite for another big helping of Cape May birding - and help is at hand! With the hurricane causing us to cancel Louise Zemaitis's workshop this week, we have re-scheduled a two-day workshop for this coming Saturday and Sunday - Cape May with (almost) Everything on it! Short notice I know, but do think about coming down and joining us for a couple of days full of some great birding. Call us on 609-861-0700 to check on last-minute availability and give yourself a real treat - you've earned it!