Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wetlands Work & Wetlands Birds

Just a quick forward warning to anyone currently birding in Cape May, or planning to do so over the coming week. The ongoing program of spraying Common Reed at The Nature Conservancy's South Cape May Meadows continues this coming week; initially, plans were for work to take place on Monday and Tuesday but it now looks as though it will take place later in the week. Whatever happens, the reserve will remain open during the work, though there may be some temporary closure of part of the trail. Large scale spraying of the big stands of Common Reed that had invaded the site was completed a couple of years ago and current work involves more localized and targeted applications.

Hopefully this work will not impact too much on migratory birds using the site. Over the past couple of weeks, Soras have been fairly easy to find in the evenings as they come out to feed along the margins of the taller stands of vegetation. These secretive birds can be looked for from either of the two trails - try looking a half hour before sunset, stand quietly and scan the bases of the emergent wetland plants along the edges of the open mud and water. A few Pectoral, Stilt, Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers and Lesser & Greater Yellowlegs are still around at both the meadows and the state park, while an American Avocet spent most of Friday (27th) on Bunker Pond at the state park.

Shorebirds are still filtering through Cape May Point in small numbers. Bunker Pond offers some great opportunities for close up shots of shorebirds, such as this Greater Yellowlegs. Our Photo Walks on Tuesdays with Scott Whittle, or on Saturdays with Mike Hannisian, provide the perfect way for you to get out your cameras and start grabbing some great photos - check out the Kestrel Express (available from the Northwood Center) or our Online Calendar for more details [photo by Mike Crewe].
Soras are easily spooked by noise and sudden movement, but calm patience can be rewarded at The Meadows with good views, especially in the final hour of daylight before sunset. This bird was showing well on Thursday [photo by Mike Crewe].

Though they breed just across the bay in Delaware, American Avocets remain scarce visitors in New Jersey. This bird spent all day on Friday (27th) on Bunker Pond and attracted a steady streak of admirers [photo by Karl Lukens]
The concrete ship off Sunset Beach is often an interesting place to check for birds. Just prior to this photograph, the Great Blue Heron on the left had us completely bemused when we spotted it swimming in the water, some 40 yards south of the ship. One can only speculate why it was doing this but it's possible it was a tired migrant that came back in off the bay and almost didn't make it to safety [photo by Mike Crewe].

Northern Shovelers have a slightly more complex molt than most dabbling ducks and some individuals - especially young males and old females - can be hard to correctly tell the age and sex. How many males and how many females can you see here? For help, don't forget that Tony Leukering did some interesting posts on this topic last winter; use the search feature in the left hand column to scan through all of our previous posts - there's a great wealth of information just waiting for you to enjoy on our CMBO blog site! [Photo by Mike Crewe]

Though this post is largely about wetland birds, never forget to check for warblers around Higbee Beach or Cape May Point at this time of year. This Magnolia Warbler was searching for insects in a hackberry right outside my office window [photo by Mike Crewe].