Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Chilly Ocean Drive Morning

 [Feet in icewater: Sanderling, today at the Ocean Drive toll bridge, near the Two Mile Beach Unit of Cape May NWR, NJ. Click to enlarge all photos.]

I don't know why I keep thinking I'll find an Iceland Gull in Cape May. I mean, I have before, and others have this very year, but both white-winged gulls (Iceland and Glaucous) seem to be jinxed for me at present. The fish plants along Ocean Drive near the big toll bridge to the Wildwoods are among the gull-iest places I know in Cape May County, but no luck, at least no rare gulls. How many Herring Gulls must one look at first to see one of these northern beauties?

You can believe in jinxes or not, but if there aren't jinxes, how come some birds come easy and others don't come at all? I went through a period, believe it or not, where I couldn't get out of the way of a Saw-whet Owl - happy condition, indeed. Same thing with Curlew Sandpiper. But jinxes just. . . suuck. I love white-winged gulls, too. Someone will find one tomorrow, or probably found one today.

No matter. I like surprises, like the Sanderlings walking on the ice at the Two Mile bridge, or the very funny female Common Eider that apparently had bonded with a little flock of Atlantic Brant there, unexpected away from the ocean.

 [Female Common Eider with Brant, near Two Mile Beach today.]

It was cold. The birds responded it various ways. With the Cape May NWR's Two Mile Beach Unit's ponds mostly frozen, the ducks were concentrated it what open water there was, and a little flock of 15 Pied-billed Grebes concentrated there. 30 American Oystercatchers huddled against the wind at Stone Harbor - 26 degrees is cold for an Oystercatcher.

And for me. I actually broke out the warm gloves, after freezing my fingers trying to take pictures bare handed. One of my favorite winter tricks is to leave my gloves on the dashboard, with the defrost running full blast - wonderful to slip your hands into a warm pair of gloves!.

 [Some of the 15 Pied-billed Grebes at the Two Mile Beach ponds, with a couple Ruddy Ducks for company.]

[This bright Yellow-rumped Warbler made me warm. You can see why their Latin name is Dendroica coronata . . .crowned.]

[Greater Yellowlegs at Nummy Island, one of 8. Yellowlegs have been around, but there were Killdeer about, and more Horned Grebes than usual. Were the latter northbound things? Or things driven south by cold and snow?]

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