Merlins and a few Peregrines continue to infiltrate the area (two Peregrines were on the water tower at the coast guard unit on 22nd) and an early Philadelphia Vireo was at Higbee Beach on 24th. A Cattle Egret was munching grashoppers at Bunker Pond on 24th and, a little further afield, Black-necked Stilt and Marbled Godwit were at Heislerville on 23rd and a Lesser Scaup was a surprise find at Brigantine on 22nd.
A few Red Knot are drifting through our area now and are well worth keeping an eye out for this month as they are likely to be adults, still sporting their cinnamon underparts [photo by Jesse Amesbury]
American Oystercatchers always make for interesting photographic subjects; this picture reminded just how high a percentage of oystercatchers that have black marks on the yellow iris of the eye - and I have no idea why... [photo by Jesse Amesbury]
If you still have the impression of Eastern Willets carved on your mind after a summer on the bayshore, take a look out on the beaches now and you may notice a difference. Most of our local breeding population of Eastern Willets has already headed south and is already being replaced by Western Willets. These western birds are longer legged, longer and narrower billed and overall more graceful-looking than our local birds [photo by Jesse Amesbury].
It always pays to be cautious when identifying Willets to subspecies as there are so many potential pitfalls. This bird was photographed toward sunset, giving it a warm, amber glow which needs to be taken into account when comparing shots. The bill on this bird looks a little shorter and stouter than the bird above, but this still apears to be a juvenile Western Willet and perhaps the bill hasn't quite finished growing yet [photo by Jesse Amesbury].
And as if we could forget that autumn in Cape May is all about the hawks too! This juvenile Cooper's Hawk took a tight turn right over the Hawkwatch Platform and was clearly wondering where you all are - another two weeks folks! [Photo by Ed Russell]