Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Another Awesome Autumn

Judging by the happy faces that are still hanging out around the point, New Jersey Audubon and Cape May Bird Observatory put together another fantastic Autumn Weekend this year. The new Convention Hall over on the beach is proving to be an excellent venue for a great range of vendors and suppliers to engage with birders and anyone else in town - but for many, it was the coming together of ideal weather conditions that really made sure that the party went off in the best way possible. A perfect run of light north-westerlies brought us plenty of birds on Friday, and Higbee Beach and Cape May Point swarmed with Yellow-rumped Warblers, kinglets and an amazing array of sparrows. With clear skies encouraging some of these to move on, attention switched to the skies as a raptor show took off that proved to be better than we could have hoped for. Not only did a nice run of fine adult Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks come our way, but Red-shouldered Hawks decided it was time to get moving too - and many of them were brightly-colored adults also. Peregrines and Merlins raked across the dunes, Northern Harriers - sometimes three or four at a time - hunted over the cattails and there can be barely a soul who didn't manage to latch onto at least one of the multiple Golden Eagles that drifted right overhead!

The Avalon Seawatch provided much to enjoy - and will continue to do so for many weeks yet; several days recently have seen counts of scoters exceeding 20,000 birds, while the first Harlequin Ducks of the season showed up on Monday (just too late for the weekend list!).

Cape May's Autumn Weekend always brings many birders to the point, giving plenty of opportunity to catch up on gossip, share a beer or two and tell tall tales. Once the visitors have drifted away though, it always seems to take a few days to get back into the old routine and the Rea Farm seemed a very quiet place as just a tiny handful of us gathered to try and get views of a very elusive Sedge Wren today. Good birding will continue at Cape May right into winter so we look forward to seeing you here again soon!

 It's always a fun part of the weekend to put together a list of all the species seen around the area over the three days of our walks, workshops and boat trips. So here is the official list of species reported to us during Friday-Sunday:

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Wood Duck
Eurasian Wigeon
American Wigeon
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Lesser Scaup
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Black Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Hooded Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Northern Gannet
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Cormorant
American Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Cattle Egret
Black-crowned Night Heron
Glossy Ibis
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Swainson's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
Virginia Rail
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
American Oystercatcher
Greater Yellowlegs
Western Willet
Lesser Yellowlegs
Marbled Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Red Knot
Least Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Wilson's Snipe
American Woodcock
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Caspian Tern
Forster's Tern
Royal Tern
Black Skimmer
Parasitic Jaeger
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
American Kestrel
Eastern Phoebe
White-eyed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
House Wren
Winter Wren
Marsh Wren
Carolina Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
American Pipit
Cedar Waxwing
Lapland Longspur
Black-and-white Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Cape May Warbler
Northern Parula
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Palm Warbler
Pine Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Seaside Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Blue Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Rusty Blackbird
Common Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Total = 169 species