Thursday, March 27, 2014

Welcome to, um, Spring?

Well, it hit us again and, I have to say, the novelty is starting to wear off. Tuesday afternoon and into the night, snow descended once again upon South Jersey's coastal plain and CMBO's Cape May SpringWatch ground to an agonising halt. The trickle of Pine Warblers, Ospreys, Eastern Phoebes and various swallows fizzled out and everything turned white once again. Despite all this, hope springs eternal and it only takes the smallest of changes in the regular routine to realise that, despite it all, spring really is on the way. And the tiny change for me today? Well, as I drove home from work past the Rea Farm, a Great Egret was spiralling down against a peach-pink sky to settle into the willows for the night. A small sign indeed, but it's the first one I've seen down at the point this year and a clear sign that change is on its way.

Wet conditions look forecast for the weekend, but there will still be good birding at Cape May. Indeed, check out our activities calendar and you will see that the program is starting to wind up now, leading into a much fuller set of programs throughout April. Come down this weekend and enjoy an early season walk or maybe a boat trip - now there's a good way to stay in out of the weather and yet still see some good birds. Don't forget too, that feeder watching continues to provide great birding here at present, with the Eurasian Tree Sparrow still present at Cape May Point today, as well as the wintering Painted Bunting and Black-capped Chickadee.

There's always something for everyone down here!

Welcome to Spring!!!! This was the view at Sunset Beach on Wednesday morning - a snow-covered beach and wave-soaked concrete ship is not what you usually expect at Cape May in late March [photo by Mike Crewe].

Cape May SpringWatch has been producing some good birding and useful data gathering as we try to work out which species are heading across the bay, which are heading up the bay, and which are heading out of bay - it really isn't straight forward when it comes to spring movements at Cape May Point. Though I nearly missed it, this adult Great Cormorant with silver streaks in its hair was a nice addition to the day's list last Saturday morning [photo by Mike Crewe].
Signs of a hard winter continue to hang on in the area; Canvasbacks are surprisingly scarce in Cape May County, given how common they are at several sites less than 100 miles away - both north and south of us. This female was one of two at the South Cape May Meadows and Plover Ponds recently. Note the elongated, all black bill of this species [photo by Mike Crewe].

Along with the Canvasbacks, two Tundra Swans have been wintering on the Plover Ponds and can usually be found on the easternmost pond, best viewed from the South Cape May Meadows in the mornings [photo by Mike Crewe].
Our Black-capped Chickadee continues to fluff up against the cold and work its way around the Cape May Point feeders. It still sports a peculiar bare patch on its right flank but otherwise seems fit and healthy [photo by Mike Crewe]

I heard today that another Eurasian Tree Sparrow has recently been reported in Ontario, so perhaps  a small movement of this species into southern Canada really did provide us with this gem of an addition to the Cape May avifauna, courtesy of a north-west airflow to bring it to the coast. Here's one of Lisa Fanning's photos of the bird when she and husband Rob first found the bird on Harvard Avenue on Sunday morning [photo by Lisa Fanning].

But spring really is on the way, as this Osprey winging over The Meadows testifies. Soon these birds will be gracing almost every wooden platform in the back bays from here to Barnegat Light and beyond, the Laughing Gulls will be yelping in the saltmarsh and we will all be complaining about the greenheads - can't wait!! [Photo by Mike Crewe].