Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cape Maygration part 2 - Shorebirds arrive right on queue

As songbird migration begins to wind down a little (though rest assured, there will be plenty more birds winging our way over the coming weeks), our focus at Cape May switches from fields and woods to muddy shores and open water. Everything in turn has its day and we are now seeing a great build up of shorebirds in the back bays and along the Delaware shore. It's time to start thinking about CMBO boat trips, horseshoe crab expeditions to the beaches with the Nature Center of Cape May and - of course - all the fun of Cape Maygration!

Mists blew in and out of Cape May Point today as rising warm air over the land drew in moisture-laden, colder air from offshore. Up to five Mississippi Kites circled the point in the morning but soon disappeared in the fog (as did yesterday's Scissor-tailed Flycatcher) and a number of grounded warblers - especially Magnolias - hung out all day. But attention turned to the South Cape May Meadows today, where careful attention to water levels by The Nature Conservancy has produced a wonderful area of food-rich habitat for shorebirds. Proof of success came today in the shape of a very smart male Black-necked Stilt that strutted around the central pool at lunchtime. Meanwhile, the area east of the east trail was a hive of activity as large numbers of Short-billed Dowitchers and Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers fed on the exposed mud. Smaller numbers of Dunlin, Semipalmated and Black-bellied Plovers, Spotted Sandpiper and an assortment of egrets and herons were there too. Over the next few days, it will be worth keeping an eye on this site for something even more exciting...

There's something missing here, can't quite place what it is... oh yes, the top of the Cape May lighthouse was shrouded in mist today [photo by Mike Crewe].

Right on cue, flocks of Short-billed Dowitchers wheeled around the muddy pools at TNC's South Cape May Meadows today. For a real shorebird extravaganza, don't miss our twice-a-week visits to Heislerville this month [photo by Mike Crewe].

A high moisture content in the air plays havoc with distant shots of birds, but this shot of today's Black-necked Stilt didn't turn out too bad... [photo by Mike Crewe]

And other things of interest are always going on in Cape May too. This Osprey seems to have forgotten to let go of the tree before flying off across the The Meadows at lunchtime today [photo by Mike Crewe]