Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Dawn to Dusk

 [And the first bird of 2013 was. . . Northern Mockingbird, the neighborhood bird whose tshack narrowly beat out the White-throated Sparrows. That was pre-dawn - the one in this photo came later, at 108 Yale Avenue as we waited for the Townsend's Warbler to appear. Click to enlarge all photos.]

Bird 'til you drop. Well, not quite, but it's been some time since I put in a full day behind the binoculars, and even today doesn't technically count, since we broke for breakfast around 10. By which time challenging birds like Townsend's Warbler (continuing at 108 Yale), Canvasback (third plover pond) and Northern Goshawk (flying over Cape May with a Bald Eagle close by) had "fallen" to the list.

Okay, I'll admit it, birding for a list can be fun. Which is why, after breakfast, we made sure to seek out the Cape May Harbor Western Grebe, and then bolted 10 miles north to find a remarkably cooperative Western Tanager with its companion adult male Baltimore Oriole.

 [Townsend's Warbler, dawn at 108 Yale in Cape May Point, NJ.]

 [The startling color of an adult male Baltimore Oriole in Cape May Court House, NJ, near the junction of Hand Ave. and Dias Creek Road. That this bird is an adult suggests it has wintered here before, as a youngster - for many birds, the first place they successfully winter becomes the place they return to for the duration of their lives. Which makes one wonder about the apparent adult male Western Tanager found nearby - was it here last year, too?]

[Male Western Tanager in Cape May Court House today.]

At three p.m. we got back home and with 91 species on the list, I realized 100 was a completely reasonable target for this New Year's Day, with a trip to Stone Harbor and environs to finish the day. And there the birds cooperated, from the reliable Horned Grebe in Hereford Inlet through, 13 birds later, the 37 Red Knots foraging on the beach at Stone Harbor Point. Happy New Year! Now, will we continue with this Big Year style of birding, or not?

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