Saturday, December 24, 2016

Winter Finch Report - From a Tree

Like the juvenile Red-tailed Hawk pictured, I've spent a lot of this month hunting from above. Red-tails often perch hunt, and that is my usual method as well since flight hunting isn't an option. The freezer is full, at least for now, and many fine experiences with the natural world were had, from the flying squirrels outside my north Jersey cabin at night to Pileated Woodpeckers every day, a species which very, very seldom strays to my home county of Cape May, NJ.

Most hunters pay attention to far more than their quarry while hunting, and my hunting partners and I take birding while hunting to an extreme level.  Often the first thing we talk about when meeting up at day's end is birds, not deer. Waiting quietly in the winter woods day after day is an excellent way to detect migrating finches, for example, of which this year there are very, very few.

After about 40 December hours listening from a mountain, here's the report: no Pine Siskins. Remarkably, no Purple Finches, surprising after a good fall showing. No crossbills. Decent numbers of American Goldfinches. No Evening Grosbeaks, but oh, pearl of greatest price, a single Pine Grosbeak flew over one day calling, my first ever for New Jersey since they stopped coming to the state the year I started seriously birding.

January and its birds and deer awaits.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday: Quoth the Raven

[Common Raven over Hunterdon County, NJ, October 21 2016.]

“Hey," said Shadow. "Huginn or Muninn, or whoever you are." 
The bird turned, head tipped, suspiciously, on one side, and it stared at him with bright eyes.
"Say 'Nevermore,'" said Shadow.
"F**k you," said the raven.” 
― Neil Gaiman, American Gods

Friday, October 14, 2016

Fri-D: Blackpoll Warbler

[Blackpoll Warbler, Cape May NJ, October 14, 2016. Click to enlarge photos.]

Today, Friday October 14, 2016, it was a blackpoll morning in Cape May, a tad late in the season for thousands of these amazing long-distance migrants to still be passing through, but there they were. Yellow-rumped Warblers out-numbered Blackpolls, but certainly won't outdistance these long-distance migrants, some of which fly from Alaska to the Canadian Maritimes, then over the ocean to South America in a flight that takes as long as 88 hours non-stop!

Blackpolls are the classic greenish-yellow wing-barred confusing fall warbler things that trouble more than one good birder. The photo above is a tad more difficult than even the usual fall warbler, because I took it during the low-angle sunlight of dawn. This means the bird looks slightly yellower than it is.

One favorite approach to bird i.d. is to ask, "Why isn't it a . . .?" With Blackpoll, the why isn'ts are Bay-Breasted and Pine Warblers, both of which are less common where I live than Blackpoll. There are other why isn'ts, like Blackburnian or Cerulean, but they're easier to sort out.

So why isn't it a Pine Warbler? The obvious back streaks are a good go-to here, though structure helps if you are familiar with both birds. Blackpolls are slimmer than Pines and have finer bills and much longer wings, manifested by primary feather tips sticking way out past the tertial feathers.

Why isn't it a Bay-breasted? This is the toughest similar species to Blackpoll, plus everybody wants it to be a Bay-breasted since they're scarcer. The warm light in this photo temps one to call Bay-breasted, because the flanks look slightly yellow or even bay. But: the undertail coverts are contrasting bright white, the wing bars are too narrow, it has obvious streaking below, it lacks a contrasting light collar on the nape, and if you don't like those reasons, it has yellow feet (Bay-breasted has dark feet.)

 Above, Blackpoll in morning flight. Contrasting yellow in front/white behind below, zeep flight call (annoyingly shared by several other warblers), and, a fine point, FAST, as you would expect from a long-distance migrant. If you're lucky enough to be in the middle of a warbler morning flight, and a bird starts passing everybody, think about Blackpoll.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday: Faith

[Ruby-crowned Kinglet, all 6.5 grams of it (about the weight of a quarter) migrates in Cape May, NJ, October 4, 2016. Click to enlarge.]

“The reason birds can fly and we can't is simply because they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings.” 
― J.M. Barrie, The Little White Bird [Barrie also created Peter Pan]

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Off to South America

[Basic plumage male Scarlet Tanager, Cape May, NJ, October 5, 2016. Click to enlarge.]

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Angels, Smoke Signals, and the Beginning of the End

[Yellow Warbler in morning flight, October 4, 2016 along Delaware Bay, NJ. It's the beginning of the end for this species for the remainder of fall.]

Angels. That's what meteorologists and defense workers called these then-strange signals showing up on radar at night when it was clear there was no precipitation involved. It was a real national security problem during an era when aerial attacks on the U.S. had happened (Pearl Harbor) and could happen again.

Then, in the 1950's, meterologists and ornithologists figured it out. The angels are birds. The linked article is worth a look.

[Velocity radar from Dover Air Force Base, DE last night at 1:00 a.m. EDT. It was not raining, and the radar shows motion towards the radar (blue colors) and movement away (red colors), along with speed in knots as depicted on the right side of the graphic.]

By 1:00 a.m., any nocturnal migrant bird that is going to migrate this day is in the air, so that's a good time to check the radar.  And migration was on last night, warblers and others in the thousands, and thousands were seen this morning in morning flight at Higbee Beach, Cape May NJ, and other points, e.g. my favorite watch points along the Delaware Bay.

In contrast, above is the 1:00 a.m. radar from the night before last, showing pretty much jack sh. . . .I mean, there wasn't much flying, and instead of the 3500+ warblers I counted this morning, yesterday (Monday October 3) I counted 32.

[Above, nationwide radar last night at 1:00 a.m. EDT. It was rocking in the eastern half of the country on northeast winds, and on the fact that, hey, it's October, we've got to go.]

[Lightning struck twice on the bayshore, as the Western Kingbird, very likely the one that showed up here last week, and then moved down to Cape May for a few days, reappeared before continuing north past Norbury's Landing.]

[Above, my FOS (first of season) Eastern Meadowlark, in the mist of the bayshore this morning.]

[Palm Warbler, above, was the clear number one in terms of numbers in this morning's flight, but. . .]

[The beloved Yellow-rumped Warbler, above, came in second numbers-wise today. This one shows the yellow crown that gives the bird its scientific species name, coronata.]

Years and years ago, I was birding Cape May with Paul Lehman, and we saw a Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Paul remarked with a bit of sadness in his voice, "The beginning of the end." When the time of Yellow-rumpeds is here, the time of the big, diverse warbler flights is done for the year. But - big flights of short-distance migrants are ahead.

Oh, the smoke signal thing. My phone quit me this morning, which in some ways is quite a relief, but meant that until I got it fixed, I was removed from the bird communication network of Cape May, one of the hallmarks of this great place to watch birds. Had to find 'em on my own for a while, though I did email friends asking for smoke signals if a hot bird appeared.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Northeast With a Chance of Peregrines

[Peregrine Falcon making a Cooper's Hawk's life difficult, from the Cape May, NJ hawk watch, September 2013.]

From the National Weather Service, 8:00 a.m. Friday, September 30 2016:

A frontal boundary will remain stationary to our south today
through Saturday with high pressure to our north, and an area of
low pressure to our west. The high pressure will begin to break
down Saturday night into Sunday. The low to our west will then
lift through the Great Lakes region and into the northeast over
the weekend, before weakening on Monday. This will pull the
frontal boundary across our area Sunday. High pressure builds to
our north for Tuesday into Thursday with a northeast flow across
the area.

High pressure + northeast + early October = Peregrine Falcons in Cape May, occasionally > 100 or even >200 a day. Just saying.

And watch next Monday and Tuesday for landbirds.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday: Black and White

[Black-and-white Warbler in morning flight, Cape May, NJ September 28, 2016.]

“Mortals. Everything is so black and white to you.” 

- Macon, in Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Elvis Has Left the Building. Where Did He Go?

 [Above, male Black-throated Blue Warbler. Below, a female. Male BTBW is kind to fall birders, appearing just like they do in spring. Females, spring and fall, look very different - but it can be said that fall warblers, or female warblers, look like spring males, only less so. . . perhaps a stretch, but note the white wing patch in the same place on both. Cape May, NJ, Sep 25, 2016, click to enlarge all photos.]

The accursed east winds STILL blow - I confess, I stole the word "accursed" from Pirates of the Carribean, but it is apt here. Nonetheless, it is late September, and birds fly south. Between September 25 and 26, I observed a couple thousand migrating warblers of about 23 species, and a similar number of woodpeckers (mainly flickers) migrating in Cape May, NJ. This ain't bragging, it's the truth, and just what you get if you find a good day and a good spot. In the first hour after sunrise. . . more on that below.

It's a good thing, from a conservation perspective, to know where large numbers of migrant birds pass through. But here's a bigger question for my friends in Cape May and elsewhere: after we see them in morning flight, where do they go? Where do they feed and rest? We have very much yet to learn about these questions. It's very cool to be on the dike at Higbee Beach WMA, or the first field there, or at Coral Avenue, or along Delaware Bay, but what are the lands and habitats they need to rest up? I've begun a very rudimentary pilot investigation of this question, which ain't easy, in part because it pulls the keen birder in us away from places we know migrants are concentrating for the best watching and highest species totals.

 [A Black-throated Green Warbler pauses for just a few seconds in the dune forest along Delaware Bay early in the morning, before continuing north. . .and maybe west? to find good stopover habitat.]

 [Rose-breasted Grosbeaks don't breed in Cape May, so it is always a treat to catch a migrant.]

[Magnolia Warbler, what a field mark of a tail patttern!]

Yesterday morning I found myself at Higbee Beach WMA, NJ with Boone, intent on working him in the pond south of the fourth field (NJDFW wisely allows dog training at WMA's after September 1, wisely in part because hunters foot the bill for many WMA acquisitions). A few birders remained, and all enjoyed chatting with me and the dog.

It was 2 hours after sunrise, and the warblers were pretty much gone. Elvis had left the building. Where did he go?

[It's hard to capture a morning flight event in Cape May, NJ or anywhere else in words, pictures, or videos, here's iPhone 5 video from Sunday, best viewed full size with audio on.]

Sunday, September 25, 2016


Among close to 700 warblers that migrated in re-directed flight north along Delaware Bay, Cape May, NJ in the first hour after sunrise this morning were hundreds of Northern Parulas. Not much biomass, but a lot of bravery.

Next up: flicker-palooza.. . as in 600+ on the same track.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

One of These is Not Like the Other

Above, a very typical scene in Cape May, NJ. The eagles "wait on" (a falconer's term) way up high until an Osprey comes in off the bay or ocean with a fish, in this case a bunker. Very professional thieves.

In other news, the accursed east winds still blow. If any big September thing (i.e. warbler flight) is going to happen, it could happen next Wednesday with the passage of a dawdling, shifting, elusive, weak scumbag of a front.

Sense frustration?

However, I will tell you this: if you like kettles of Broad-winged Hawks (and who doesn't), don't come to Cape May. Pick a northern NJ, PA, or NY lookout and go there, possibly Tuesday (my plan, Scott's Mountain) and Wednesday (not my plan, because, well, Cape May.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Nature Red. . .

[Juvenile Cooper's Hawk with Red-winged Blackbird, Del Haven, NJ, September 7, 2016. Click to enlarge.]

Monday, September 12, 2016

Another September Morning In Cape May

[In fall, most Black-throated Green Warblers don't show all this black on the throat, so a better mark to look for is that bright yellow face. Along the Delaware Bayshore in morning flight today, with a couple hundred other warblers.]

As I tweeted yesterday, we finally received the grace and blessings of another cold front yesterday evening, and even though the wind switched to NE in the wee morning hours, warblers and other migrants were abundant this morning. As we piece together the elements that predict a big Cape May, NJ flight, it becomes more and more clear (at least to me) that winds with a west component lasting until past dawn are very key. Didn't happen today, but when I bumped into Richard Crossley this morning at Higbee he told me they had ~ 1000 migrants at the Higbee dike by that point, around 9:15 a.m. By the time my party got to Higbee, the party was pretty much over, but we did find a Yellow-bellied flycatcher along the center path about midway between the two towers.

["The radar's blowing up!" A sardonic response would be that, well, yeah, birds fly south in fall. Will they be at your favorite hotspot tomorrow morning in quantity? Depends on many things.]

Prediction for next good landbird flight: Thursday. Other than that, things look pretty grim for migrants here for the next while. . .

[Merlin spots an American Redstart in morning flight along the Delaware Bay this morning. Trouble. Click to enlarge all photos.]

This past weekend I had the pleasure of helping with the Delaware Nature Society's bioblitz at Middle Run. The birding was excellent Saturday morning, featuring 18 species of warblers, and unlike the birding I do in Cape May, these were in trees, not flying by. . .

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday: Stealing

[Immature Bald Eagle pursues Osprey with fish, Norbury's Landing, NJ, Sep 2, 2016.]

"Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll steal your fish."

[I'm not sure where I first heard this. It was used in reference to intellectual property. . .]

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: It's a Bad Time to be a Bunker

[Osprey with Bunker (menhaden) near Fishing Creek, Cape May NJ, September 7 2016. Click to enlarge.]

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Soooo, About Hermine. . .

[Forecast track of Hermine from the NWS as of 11:00 a.m. Sunday, September 4, 2016.]

Sooooo. . . all of us eager for tropical birds in the wake of Hermine are feeling a little bummed, because she is tracking well offshore. All of us who live at the shore, of course, are happy our property will be unharmed. Hermine tracked across the Gulf, through Florida and along the Carolinas, and there are probably a bunch of neat birds (boobies? frigatebirds? tropical terns?) riding along with her, but will they make it to Cape May, NJ when they try to go home? Doubt it. One set of birds to look for, though, are those shorebirds that migrate to South America over the Atlantic, which could be forced to divert over land by Hermine. Hudsonian Godwit is a great example. If you are a dreamer, there was once this small curlew that took this route. . . but it is presumed extinct. . .

However, check the wind forecast on this graph:

Click to enlarge. Solid northwest winds Tuesday, Tuesday night, and Wednesday, thanks to the high that is keeping Hermine at bay. This bespeaks of warblers Wednesday morning, and perhaps raptors during the day Wednesday. There were a few warblers migrating in Cape May today, by the way, as in a few hundred, thanks to the continued north winds.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch we've got this rogue dark juvenal Parasitic Jaeger that has been flying over land, over the hawk watch, and generally forgetting it is a seabird. Above, it was hunting a stone's throw off the jetty at Alexander Avenue in Cape May Point early yesterday morning, while it was still pretty dark. Not a storm-related bird, as far as we can tell.

Tropical storms sometimes change direction, so Hermine is still worth watching.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fri-D: Warblers in Flight

 [Birds in flight. It's often what you do in Cape May, NJ. All photos from today; click to enlarge.]

Your first question is, why isn't it an American Redstart? Because, in late August and early September, if it is little and flying north (i.e. in morning flight or redirected flight), it very probably is. This morning I saw ~650 warblers in flight, and 552 were American Redstarts (I used a clicker for them). Later in fall, the question will be, why isn't it a Yellow-rumped Warbler?

The bird above, frozen with wings open by the camera, is a gimme, or should be. A thing about trying to i.d. warblers in flight is that you must know the bird cold when it is perched - so do you know the redstart's tail pattern, it's exact wing pattern, its face, and its range of variability? Other than that, if it is a slim, long-tailed warbler with a dark-tipped tail that is kind of spoon shaped and it jinks around a lot in flight and often chases other birds, and says tsweet a lot, it's a redstart.

[This is one that could stump you even if seen well and perched.]

When watching a good morning flight in early fall, one thing I try to do is find warblers flying by that are not redstarts. Shorter tails, less jinking in flight, different flight call (a lazy zeep on the one above), different color pattern . . . e.g., the bird above, which front to back below is yellow, white, black. Fall female Magnolia Warbler, a tricky one with no streaks below at all.

Above, tiny little thing with a tiny bill, yellow on the chest, obvious wing bars, blue and green above, says tsiw. . . Northern Parula.

Last one. Once I was working with a new morning flight counter with Richard Crossley, and at one point Richard burst out exasperated, "They're all bloody yellow!" What he meant was, in the low angle sun of morning flight, anything can look yellow. However, this one looked most yellow on the face and throat, had something going on with the face pattern (in the split-second look of a warbler in flight, "something going on" is sometimes all you can do), seemed streaked, and had obvious wing bars. Female Blackburnian Warbler.

Today's was a great flight, spiced with orioles and lots of Red-breasted Nuthatches. Keep the binoculars and reflexes sharp - we're currently waiting to see what tropical storm Hermine brings us, and then the next cold front.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Black Tern Storm

[Black Tern at the Coral Avenue jetty, Cape May Point, NJ, Wednesday, August 31 2016. One of 96 (!) in a single scan. Click to enlarge photos.]

First, it is incumbent on me to say that this Friday 8/2  is looking to be a very good day for migrant landbirds: front passing the day before, NNW winds overnight (currently forecast more north than west, less good but still good), kind of poor migrant weather recently. . . I'm predicting 1000+ warblers at the Higbee dike.

While we wait, look offshore. Hundreds of Black Terns in Cape May in late August/early September are certainly not unprecedented, but nor are these numbers annual. The BLTE show around the point has been wonderful, e.g. 96 in a single scan count this morning from Coral Avenue.

[Black Terns, Common Terns and a Laughing Gull in a frenzy over breaking fish.]

[15 Black Terns in a single photo is a personal best, off Coral Avenue in Cape May this morning.]

Friday, August 26, 2016

Fri-D: How Old is that Shorebird?

[Click to enlarge photos.]

Adult shorebirds have been heading south since late June or early July, and now the juveniles - young of the year - are pouring through. There are plenty of adults still around, which leads to confusion, especially when using colors and patterns to identify the birds. How, for example, can the two birds above be the same species?

Well, they are, Least Sandpipers to be exact, which could have been told just by the yellow leg color and small size (unless you're trying for an exotic). Juvenile shorebirds, heading south with their first set of feathers, are usually well patterned and often quite bright. In many species, the patterning is formed in part by broad buff, white or orange edges to the upperpart feathers, created a scalloped efffect. On juveniles, the feathers are all the same age and in uniform, good condition. Thus we can say confidently that the left bird above is a juvenile. 

A word of caution: juveniles of a given species can be variable one to the other. In particular, some are brighter than others, often because the bright ones have just come down from the nesting grounds and the feathers haven't had much time to show wear. We see lots of birders trying to create something exotic out of juvenile shorebirds because of this variability - there are bright and dull Semipalmated Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, etc., so it is important to develop a feel for this variability.

The right bird above is an adult. Its feathers are not all the same age. The wing feathers are about a year old, while the body feathers were molted in last late winter and spring as the bird assumed breeding plumage. It is now in worn breeding plumage. The wing "panel" - the coverts - contrasts with the rest of the feathers because it is worn and uniform gray, compare it to the same place on the juvenile. I'm not seeing new, gray winter feathers coming in on this bird's body, so it is wearing worn breeding feathers. Since it is late August, this suggests this particular individual will winter in South America, and will molt when it gets there. If it were going to winter farther north, it would already be molting.

Another pair, this time Lesser Yellowlegs, adult on the left and juvenile on the right. The adult is in worn breeding plumage and does show new, winter-plumage gray feathers coming in on the back. The juvenile is neatly patterned with white spots on the edge of the upperpart feathers.

Both photos are from the South Cape May Meadows, NJ, the Least Sandpipers this week, the yellowlegs a couple weeks ago.

Monday, August 22, 2016


Flight? Not. As in not this morning, Monday August 22, 2016. Front passed too late, stormy to our north, blah blah blah - and no warblers. So tomorrow? Other than that the winds are going to swing to the NE, which is less good, yes.

Yet another predictor of big flights is simply, whatcha got in the pipe? Meaning, if you've had two weeks of lousy migration weather (and we in Cape May have), then the pipe is full of birds ready to come. Hopefully.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Flight? Flight.

[Graphical weather forecast from Sunday, August 21 2016 at about 9:15 a.m., courtesy of NOAA. Click to enlarge.]

An additional very useful tool in the hocus pocus of predicting bird migration is the National Weather Service's graphical forecast, like the one above. I mainly look at the second row, which shows forecast wind direction and velocity. In fall, what I want to know three things:

1. When is the wind going to come around to northwest (as it invariably does at least for a little while when a cold front crosses the cape)? Above we can see that sometime in the middle of the night Sunday that will happen. This is good, but it would be better earlier. However, we also need to consider conditions well to the north, up to several hundred miles, because that is our "sending zone:" the place our Monday birds will be coming from. It looks like the front will only clear the western part of New York and New England in time for birds from those areas to migrate Sunday night, which is a bit of a bummer.

2. When the wind does shift, what will it's speed be? I like to see speeds in the teens - strong enough to drift birds to the coast (and therefore also cause them to engage in re-directed morning flight). Wind in the 20's or higher can be too strong for some migrant landbirds.

3. How much of a west component will the wind have and how long will it last? It looks like beginning around midnight Sunday night, there will be plenty of west component until the middle of Monday night, when the little flags on the graph start leaning to the right - i.e. east. This is also a bummer, because it means Tuesday will be less good than it would have been if the winds had stayed west.

The forecast above is actually about perfect for a hawk flight, except for one thing: the date. There will be hawks in Cape May on Monday - Ospreys, harriers, an eagle or three - but not the piles of hawks there would be if this was a forecast for mid-September or later.

The upshot for Monday: definitely a flight of landbirds, but perhaps not as many as if the front were to fully clear the northeast early in the night. Then hawks. A good day.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday: Children

[I watched and admired as this Common Tern parent, right,  flew past its offspring as the mewing baby begged on the beach. No fish until you fly, kid. 10 passes later the kid made a short, weak, but brave flight, and was rewarded on landing with an Atlantic Silverside, a very common baitfish in our waters right now, called spearing by fishermen. Stone Harbor Point this morning, click to enlarge.]

“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” 
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Monday, August 8, 2016

Hocus Pocus

Sometimes the Hocus Pocus migration prediction magic actually works.

[Northern Waterthrush in morning flight at Higbee Beach WMA, NJ Sunday morning.

Only, it's not magic at all, in fact it is relatively simple stuff to know when a good day is coming (predicting truly massive flights is less easy, but still sometimes possible.) You look at the date - early August, OK, what species are likely migrants now? (see blog below.) You look at the weather map and charts - when is a cold front going to pass through Cape May? Will the winds turn to northwest before nightfall or at least sometime in the night? Plan to go birding the morning after. And, if you want, check the weather radar before you go out to gauge the extent of migration.

[Velocity weather radar at 2:40 a.m. Sunday morning, August 8, 2016, from Dover, DE. Blue colors are birds flying towards the station, hot colors are birds flying away. Notice they avoid flying over the water; this radar image with a "bite" out of it on the east side is a great predictor for birds on the coast in fall. The blob at the bottom right is a rain squall associated with the cold front that passed.]

[A bit of a surprise, this male Tennessee Warbler on Sunday morning was among the earliest southbound Tennessee's ever recorded at Cape May, right in front of the concrete platform in the first field.]

As of now, the next little hit of migrants seems likely Tuesday-ish next week, but that's 8 days away, so don't hold me to it. Dribs and drabs until then. Yesterday morning I ran into about 40 individual warblers of 8 species, and heard of at least two other warbler species seen by others. Not to mention a couple dozen Eastern Kingbirds, Orchard Orioles, waxwings, etc. And the fall mosquito crop seemed not to be abroad yet, though there are still deerflies around. . .

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Dowasaurus, Other Shorebirds, Thoughts About Sunday

[This Long-billed Dowitcher, right, with a Short-billed Dowitcher at left, has been hanging around the South Cape May Meadows for a few days. Click to enlarge photos.]

I wrote about dowitcher i.d. last week, but the above bird (a different individual from last week's bird) has a couple striking features. First, it's big, bulky, large-headed, thick-necked - these are not insults, but if you flick your eyes back and forth between the two birds you'll see the usefulness of these field marks. This Long-billed also has a very long bill, with an unusual curve at the tip that is accentuated by the fact it is holding some tasty morsel.

[Six species in one photo - can you name them? Answer in a future blog.]

Both the meadows and Cape May Point State Park are in great shape for shorebirds, and should stay that way barring torrential rain, which can drown the moist soil habitat. Even better, look what's coming tonight:

[The sort of weather map you want to see, even if it is only August 6. A cold front (the blue line with triangles facing southeast) is forecast to clear Cape May tonight. Migrant songbirds should be behind it.]

What can we expect, songbird migrant wise, on August 7 in Cape May? Plenty of Yellow Warblers, for sure. Right on time for Lousiana Waterthrush. Fine for a Prothonotary Warbler or two, or Worm-eating Warblers, Ovenbirds, Black-and-white Warblers, and of course American Redstarts. Maybe the very scarce Cerulean Warbler? Some Orchard Orioles should be moving. We'll see.

[More and more juvenile Laughing Gulls are appearing away from the colonies, e.g. this one in the parking lot at Cape May Point State Park. They're out in the rips, too - time to remind ourselves that not all dark-colored birds chasing terns are jaegers. . . laughers do it too.]