Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dicky Birds

 [The bird of the day at Higbee Beach, for me, was Black-and-white Warbler.]

After an hour on the dike, I was pretty sure Higbee was going to s-u-u-uck, pardon the vulgarity. But Tom, Sam and I detected like 2 Yellow Warblers, a few Bobolinks, and not much else. I did have a probably Connecticut Warbler first thing, but don't ask me to explain why I think that's what it was. . . .

Anyhow, I left the dike and began probing the first field while mosquitoes were probing me, in a t-shirt and no bug spray, it's not like I haven't been to Higbee about a zillion times in September and should know better about the mosquitoes. The first field was pretty much dead, with one friendly Ovenbird and a Black-and-white Warbler and not much else.

I almost walked straight back to my truck to head somewhere there might be birds, but opted to check New England Road. Simply walking east from the main Higbee lot is sometimes a good idea. And it sure was today, I hit a little flock of family-grouped chickadees and titmice, and a bunch of birds had coalesced around them, including 4 --winged things, i.e. a good looking female Golden-winged Warbler, a good-looking male Blue-winged, and two hyrbrids, a basic Blue-winged with yellow in the wing bars and a more conventional "Brewster's." These were with a handful of American Redstarts, Black-and-whites, gnatcatchers, Red-eyed Vireos and such. The flock moved back towards the tower field (to the left as you look south from the parking lot), and of the Vermivoras only the Blue-winged with yellow in the wing bars was relocated. The center path, the one between the tower field and the first field, was really pretty birdy, with most of the above species plus local breeders and a single empid that I'm calling a Least Flycatcher. I gather the Golden-winged at least has been around since Wednesday.

I got talking with Leslie, who comes to Cape May from the U.K. every autumn, and while we were enjoying the Black-and-white Warblers, she remarked that Black-and-white was the first wood-warbler she'd ever seen - and she saw it in the U.K.! Funnily, Black-and-white was an almost-first warbler for me (first was, what else, Yellow-rumped). I was a kid fly-fishing in northern NJ, oh my goodness like 35 years ago,  and this funny little black and white striped thing creeping around a streamside tree trunk so intrigued me I went home, found a bird book, looked it up, and never looked back - a birder was born.

Tomorrow I'll be in the kayak, where I know not at the moment, but it's a falling tide, good chance for a free ride out and back on the incoming from somewhere. I'm tempted to make my way to the Brown Booby near Jarvis Sound, but the intracoastal waterway on Labor Day weekend in a kayak? With camera? It's gonna look like the boating scene from Caddy Shack out there by noon, but in theory I'll be off the water and driving home to hole up by then.

[A dicky-bird's dicky bird - hatch year Indigo Bunting at Higbee.]

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