Monday, October 5, 2015

Cape May birding heats up!

This morning a big wave of new birds joined many bird already here from before the Nor'easter that battered southern New Jersey into the weekend. The result was a heavy morning flight of birds, both reorienting, and seeking refuge for the day. Don Freiday reported a significant flight of songbirds heading up the Delaware Bay shore from Norbury's Landing, including 18 species of warbler and over 1,800 individuals in a single hour! Our Morning Flight counter Glen Davis tallied just over 2,000 individuals today from the Higbee Dike; not a spectacular flight, but a good one especially following two weeks of northeast winds and little songbird migration (you can check out this season's morning flight data on our real-time site here). Birds are plentiful on the ground today as well, with a noticeable influx of Swamp Sparrows, Blackpoll and Black-and-white Warblers, many Common Yellowthroats, and an overall high diversity of short and long-distance migrants. Oh, and CATBIRDS! Many many Gray Catbirds throughout the forested parts of the island, many feeding on American Pokeberry (Phytolacca americana; good!) and Porcelain Berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata; bad! - as it's a noxious invasive species).

One of many Black-and-white Warblers this morning

Many raptors are present overhead today as well, with Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks joined by all three expected falcons: Merlin, American Kestrel and Peregrines. American Kestrel were particularly viewable from Steven's Street, overlooking the Rea Farm fields where they're munching on katydids (to see how the Cape May Hawkwatch is going, visit our real-time site here).

Female American Kestrel snacking 'on the wing'

But this is just the beginning! If the weather forecast is even half as good as it looks now, we can expect Cape May to be Fall Birding Central all the way into the middle of next week and beyond, right up to our Fall Birding Festival on October 23 - 25 (kickoff party on October 22nd - more info here).

Male American Kestrel putting fear in the hearts of katydids below

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