Sunday, September 16, 2012

About What You'd Expect

[Ovenbird, first thing in the morning at Higbee Beach WMA, Cape May, NJ. It's always fun to see these strange little warblers during migration - to me it's like seeing a different animal than the forest bird singing teacher teacher TEACHER TEACHER in springtime. Now they're quiet, mysterious. This is a cropped image at ISO 6400 for the photographers in the crowd, taken when it was almost dark. Click to enlarge all images.]

In a very typical Vince Elia understatement, today the birds were about what you'd expect for September 16 in Cape May. Really good, in other words, though the winds fizzled overnight, so while landbirds were pretty strong at Higbee and Cape May Point State Park, hawks did not materialize. That wind link is a cool little realtime map, by the way, fun!

My day began with nocturnal listening - observers hooked into the nocturnal flight calls listserve reported the heavy migration that was also obvious on radar, and indeed, along Delaware Bay I heard about 15 calls a minute, with many Swainson's Thrushes, a few Gray-cheeked Thrushes, Veeries, and miscellaneous warblers. I also heard two American Bitterns squawk their nocturnal flight note, which sounds like, well, squawk, or awwk.

The thrushes heard near dawn were food for thought, because you know they put down somewhere, and yet good luck finding them. We saw one Swainson's and heard a couple Veeries at Higbee, and that's it, thrush wise.

[Magnolia Warbler at Higbee this morning.]

At Higbee, there were many birds in the fields the first couple hours of daylight, and they were passing less frantically than usual thanks to the absence of wind. I had about 17 warbler species on the day, and most were at Higbee, though the state park added a few birds. I opted to skip morning flight, instead wandering the fields with my son Tim and many, many mosquitoes.

[My first southbound Ruby-crowned Kinglet of fall, at Cape May Point State Park today. Shades of October.]

[I think this female Blackburnian Warbler was my favorite bird of the day, in part because it spent so much time working a persimmon tree with fruits and turning leaves the color of its breast. Red Trail, Cape May Point State Park.]

 [The rare bird of the morning, a Clay-colored Sparrow that hung out at the brushpile along the dune trail at Cape May Point State Park. Tell from Chipping by the strong face pattern, especially the white malar and strong dark moustachial line, and the buffy breast. Something was going on at the brushpile, in the form of bugs coming out of it, because birds were on it all the time, including up to 5 Yellow Warblers at once and a similar number of Palm Warblers.]


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