Friday, April 22, 2016

There's Still a Little Time to Catch the Gannet Show, and Various Birding Updates

[Over one thousand Northern Gannets gathered behind and around the Cape May- Lewes Ferry on April 10, 2016. This happens every year in late March and April; gannets stage in Delaware Bay before migrating onward. Click to enlarge photos.]

I love this time of year.  Every day there's a new bird. Early this morning, I cruised the streets of Cape May Point, NJ with the windows open (an excellent strategy to start your Cape May day, by the way) and discovered that House Wrens had returned in force since I'd been down here three days ago. I then joined my friend Tom Reed at his spring watch from the dune crossover at Coral Avenue, where among many other things we saw a flock of 61 Glossy Ibis come in off the bay, a flock of dowitchers fly into the bay, and many Northern Gannets, although that species' peak has come and gone. There are still plenty of gannets, don't get me wrong, so if you want to catch the show, go to a dune overlook and watch, or get on the ferry.

My personal songbird highlight of the week was a singing Cerulean Warbler on April 18 at Cox Hall Creek WMA. Cerulean is very scarce bird in Cape May, and has declined throughout its range, and I believe this was also the earliest arrival date ever recorded for the species by several days.

Birds happen, and with climate change, they are going to happen more.

Another change factor is simply that bird ranges are not static; the range maps in old field guides in many cases are no longer accurate. Case in point is Common Raven, at least one of which has been haunting the Rio Grande, NJ area for weeks. A best guess is that there is some form of a cell phone tower that this bird (or birds) is using, since that is where the species now mostly nests in northern NJ.

Warblers and butterflies are now readily available in Belleplain State Forest, and shorebirds are filtering into Heislerville and elsewhere. Like I said, I and all naturalists love this time of year. . .which is why CMBO offers such a large suite of spring field trips and events.

[Gannet point-blank from the ferry, April 10, 2016.]

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