Saturday, March 23, 2013

Another March Day

 [Male Pine Warbler forages on the ground in Cape May Point State Park, NJ this morning. Click to enlarge all photos.]

With the wind windy and the temp in the 30's and whitecaps on Delaware Bay, it sure still felt like March this morning, and I drove to Cape May Point thinking, yeah, there'll be like 2 birds around. And then when I saw two Laughing Gulls at the Cape May Ferry Terminal, I thought, great, there they are, my two birds.

I repeated the two-bird sentiment when I bumped into Scott Whittle along Lincoln Avenue, who agreed, it's March. When I told Scott I was headed over to the state park, he said, "Find some Pine Warblers or something." And happily, I did. One was the drabbest of females chipping along the blue trail, a good candidate for examination with Scott's new warbler book in hand - when it comes out, I'll compare his and Tom Stephenson's photos with the one below, and read their i.d. tips. This is a great practice, looking up supposedly familiar birds in new guides.

 [Always a good quiz warbler: female Pine Warbler, Cape May Point State Park today.]

Besides the Pine Warblers, there were birds around. If two Ospreys constitute a movement, then there was a movement of Ospreys at the point in the northwest wind. Northwest is just always good at the point. Though most ducks have moved out, a diverse smattering remains around Cape May, and the shovelers were courting and doing their funny, chuckling "dook - dook" calls.

 [Male Northern Shoveler shows his powder blue wing patches, revealing the similarity of this bird to Bue-winged Teal. Cape May Point State park today.]

 [Osprey overhead takes a look at the photographer before. . .]

 [. . .whirling and plunging for a sunfish in Lighthouse Pond. Note the band on the left leg.]

Besides the Ospreys and the Pine Warblers, a real sign of spring was an American Crow carrying a stick, i.e. building a nest. It flew off with its mate, headed to the interior of the state park.

[This young Harbor Seal was hauled out on the beach at the state park in CApe May. It moved and looked around, but I'm not sure if it was feeling entirely well.]

[I met a nice couple at the ferry terminal while I was photographing these Laughing Gulls. They asked if the gulls were Laughing or Bonaparte's, and after I told them I got thinking about all of the reasons I used to tell they were not Bonies that would be unavailable to a new birder, because the reasons involved cues only experience gives. Like, a Bonie wouldn't be standing on a piling, and would look obviously tiny, and wouldn't have a full hood yet at this time of year. The couple had been puzzled by the black looking bill, which is typical of newly arrived Laughers (it will turn red). And I thought what a lousy observer I am because I didn't really look the gulls over much at all. I'm sure I didn't look at a single detail like bill or leg color or back color or tertial crescent or any of that, but I'm sure Laugher's larger jizz penetrated my skull.]

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