Sunday, October 21, 2012

Why Never to Say, "Just a Yellow-rump"

 [Yellow-rumped Warbler, part of the masses sweeping through Higbee Beach WMA, Cape May, NJ in waves this morning. Click to enlarge photos.]

When confronted with a Yellow-rumped Warbler, my first response has long become, "I've never seen THIS Yellow-rumped Wabler before." An entire book could be written about the Yellow-rumped Warbler, not the species, but the one right there dashing past in morning flight with its thousands of brethren. Where did it hatch - Quebec? Maine? Alaska, even? Where will it winter, here in NJ or coastal North Carolina or. . . ? How many swipes from Sharp-shinned Hawks will it need to evade to get there?

No, don't take Yellow-rumpeds for granted. This is a special bird.

My daughter asked me how many were in the flight in Cape May this morning. I pondered a moment and said, 50,000. Shortly after the text message came through that Cameron had counted 20,000 in the first hour alone. Fantastic! Palm Warblers and a few Blackpolls and other species spiced the flight, but it was overwhelmingly dominated by this ubiquitous bird.

 [Two Yellow-rumpeds glean insects from an aster along the center trail at Higbee. I counted 100/minute passing through just this 20 foot wide space shortly after sunup.]

Hundreds of Pine Siskins and dozens of Purple Finches called overhead in Cape May ths morning, and a decent raptor flight was buildling.

 [Adult female Northern Harrier in front of the Cape May lighthouse this morning. Streaked below, without the tawny cast of a juvenile harrier.]

[This Eastern Meadowlark flew along the dunes at Capa May Point State Park this morning.]

In case anyone's wondering why I tweeted that today would be a big flight: Northwest winds hadn't started Friday night, which precluded a decent flight then. But the air cooled and northwest winds from the high pressure system building over the region blew all day Saturday and all night Saturday night. This is the weather pattern that most reliably puts birds in Cape May in the fall: an overnight of west-northwest winds after a period without them. Now, to get out there and find that Evening Grosbeak!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, nice shots. 50,000 Yellow-rumped Warblers, I bet that was a sight to see, cool. We don't have many of them here in South Carolina but I spotted one this morning under our rose bush hunting.

    Caught On Camera