Monday, October 8, 2012

A Feeling of November, and Finding Birds that Cooperate

 [My first Winter Wren of autumn chimp-chimped in the swamp along the railroad tracks in the back of the Beanery, Cape May, NJ before clambering up a leaning tree next to me. These guys can be like mice, not shy but creeping about in the brush and forest debris where you can't see them. Dark brown, shorter tailed and with a more obvious eyebrow than House Wrens, which have been common lately. Click to enlarge photos. ]

With temperatures staying in the 50's, and flocks of Pine Siskins and occasional Purple Finches in the air, it felt later in fall than it is today. A couple other late season migrants added to that feeling, those being my first Winter Wren and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers of the Cape May fall, both at the Beanery.

After joining a gathering of friends at Coral Avenue to watch Tree Swallows swirling over the dunes and Parasitic Jaegers harass the Forster's Terns and Laughing Gulls in the rips, a passing Eastern Meadowlark reminded me for some reason that I hadn't been to the Beanery in a while - probably because the Beanery is a good place to see meadowlarks.

It's also a good place to just creep about slowly, getting close to birds and watching them do what they do with generally less interference from other birders, a consideration on a holiday weekend in Cape May. I love birding with other people, but it has it limits, especially when you're trying to get pictures. Birders often complain about photographers scaring birds, and with good reason sometimes, but birders can be good at scaring birds, too.

A few warblers lingered at the Beanery, and I was in the right place at the right time for a distant look at the Swainson's Hawk that started at the hawkwatch and in a few minutes found its way up past Cameron at the Higbee dike and apparently "left the building," or at least the island, Cape Island that is. A persistently calling Gray-cheeked Thrush even let me have a brief look at it, though not a photo. Without trying particularly to run up a list I found 68 species in an hour and a half, pretty fun and a sign of a good day of migration. Even if it felt like November.

 [I saw both species of nuthatch catch and eat Red Admiral butterflies this morning. This White-breasted Nuthatch, much the scarcer species on Cape Island, especially this year, was at the Beanery. Click to enlarge photos.]

[A cooperative Tennessee Warbler in habitat you don't find them in in spring - a rank, weedy field of goldenrod and aster at the Beanery. This habitat is rich in insects, and can be better than the cedars or even "magic" Siberian elms of Cape May for some species, like Tennesees, Nashvilles, and the ever elusive Orange-crowned and Connecticut Warblers.]

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