Saturday, November 24, 2012

Winding Down Fall with a Couple Rarities. . . and Some Beer

 [Ash-throated Flycatcher at Higbee Beach WMA, Cape May, NJ this morning. Click to enlarge photos.]

"I had just a remarkable morning today, Don," said Michael O'Brien when we met looking for the Greater White-fronted Goose that Tom Reed had seen drop into Lily Lake in Cape May (which we found, in the company of 4 Cackling-ish Geese, though those kept morphing into small but regular Canadas, which then made the white-fronted look too big - a story for another blog, maybe.)

"Yes? How so?" I asked.

"I saw almost no birds. I walked around the point looking for finches and there was nothing flying, no blackbirds, no robins, no finches. Maybe just a couple things, like one Yellow-rump, but essentially nothing."

This was almost identical to my experience at Higbee, where I went at a whim in the post-frontal strong west northwest wind of the morning, brought by the front that passed maybe a bit too late last night, but one that a month ago surely would have meant birds, birds birds. Higbee is where you go after a front first thing in the morning August-October, but in November I'm more prone to work the point or the Beanery.

The well is almost empty, the well from which pour birds from the north. So dry, in fact, that yesterday, instead of normal birding, we took a foggy ferry ride to Lewes, Delaware and from there drove on to Rehoboth and the wonderful Dogfish Head Brewpub and some wonderful eats and take-home Dogfish Head microbrews, one of which (the rare Burton Baton) graces the table next to me as I write (so don't blame me if I start slurring my words). Michael, Louise Zemaitis, Beth and I did bird about Cape Henlopen on the way back, encountering a fun little troop of maybe 8 Brown-headed Nuthatches, and Red-breasted, and other this and thats. . .not much, but enough. And gannets behind the ferry on the way home, at almost arm's length.

But this morning, with the front and a precious day off, I had to drag my lazy self out of bed and at least try the day, even thought the radar said little had flown. November, rarity month, come on Don, move it. Literally the first bird I set binoculars on was a Purple Finch, and the third was a Yellow-breasted Chat, both in the tower field at Higbee Beach WMA. But after that. . . .cardinals, Field Sparrows, white-throats, and eventually a text message from Tom that led us to the white-fronted goose.

I'd run into Nick Kontonicolas at Higbee, and we parted wishing each other an Ash-throated Flycatcher. Nick got the wish, with a great find on a bird that proved elusive, though we refound it briefly for a photo and a quick look before it disappeared, as far as I know, for good for the day. Michael and I had a flock of Red Crossbills at the entrance to the Higbee Field as we walked in, flyovers only.

 [Greater White-fronted Goose tells the Canadas what it thinks, Lily Lake, Cape May, NJ this morning.]

[The star bird of Cape Henlopen State Park, DE, a Brown-headed Nuthatch entertains us there yesterday. Combines well with Dogfish Head beer, brewed right there in Delaware. . .]

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