Friday, April 5, 2013

A Promising Weekend

Winds don't look too exciting for the coming weekend so I'm not expecting a mad rush of spring migrants to happen just yet; however, at this time of year there is always plenty of surprises in store and I certainly find that spring birds tend to be in more of a hurry than fall migrants, so you need to be out there to be sure of not missing anything. This was especially noticeable with the Eurasian Wigeon a few days ago. When I heard about this bird, I was tempted to leave it until the next day - but I'm glad I didn't as, quite predictably, the bird moved on overnight. Trawling other information sources recently (isn't it difficult finding out bird news these days with so many different places now pushing and shoving to be top information dog?) I came across a few other birds that had slipped under the radar locally. Heislerville is slowly creeping back onto the list of hot places to check as shorebirds build up slowly. Among gathering numbers of Dunlin and both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, the first Pectoral Sandpiper of the year showed up on March 29th, with continuing sightings since then. Barn and Northern Rough-winged Swallows are popping up several places now with early Barn Swallows seen at Gandy's Beach and Stipson Island Road on 30th and a small scattering of others elsewhere since then. A Northern Rough-winged Swallow was at the main pond at Cox Hall Creek WMA on our walk there on Thursday morning.

Ponds at Cape May Point State Park are relatively quiet at the moment - though those agressive Mute Swans are at the peak of bad behavior at the moment and have demonstrated a number of times recently why these alien invasives really need to be dealt with. Winter ducks fade away by the day, but there are plenty of Wilson's Snipe lurking in the marsh, often best seen when a passing Northern Harrier panicks them into the air, and there has been a recent run of reports of Soras from both here and The Meadows. Further to my note in an earlier posting, the Sunset Boulevard Western Tanager seems to have hung around to March 31st, but I've not heard of any April reports. Red Crossbills have all but faded into a memory now and Sam Galick's recent report of nine heading north at Beaver Swamp WMA probably indicates what they have all been doing - heading back north.

There's plenty of birds out there just busting to be enjoyed and we've a good range of walks and other events coming up for you to enjoy them on. Talking of such things, looking a little further ahead, the weekend of April 13th and 14th will feature our annual boat trips along the Maurice River on The Osprey. These trips are very special as there are no boats stationed on this river that are running birdwatching trips, so we are very grateful to Bob Lubberman who pushes the boat out (pun intended!) on this one and gives us a rare opportunity to see the wonderful wild rice stands and other interesting habitats that occur further into the fresh marshes than we can get in Cape May County. These trips leave from the municipal dock in Millville and several of our wonderful CMBO leaders are planning on coming along this year. For more details and to book, check out the Kestrel Express or call The Osprey on 609.898.3500 - see you there!

The Maurice River below Millville has very different habitats to those we see around Cape May wetlands, with wooded bluffs and wild rice meadows offering a chance to enjoy some very scenic birding, without having to wear yourself out! [Photo by Bob Lubberman]

Want another reason to come along the Maurice River with us? How about the chance for great views of Bald Eagles, cruising the airways looking for Ospreys, or tending young chicks in their nests [photo by Mike Crewe].