Saturday, August 3, 2013

Cape May Meadows Fly-bys

 [This Prothonotary Warbler's flight note, a loud, clear, rising seep, drew my camera skyward just in time. It wasn't a bird I was particularly thinking about this morning at the South Cape May Meadows, NJ, but I'll take it! Click to enlarge all photos.]

Better to be lucky than good - how many times have I said that? Often, so while I may not be lucky with rare terns in Cape May this year (missed the Roseate by minutes yet again), I could hardly be disappointed with a morning at the South Cape May Meadows that included flyover Prothonotary Warbler in the starring role, plus Northern Waterthrushes, Yellow Warblers, American Redstarts. . . August is fall migration in a big way, and it was good just to be out looking. One thing to always remember in Cape May, and elsewhere, is that all the little birds flying overhead are something. They may not be the standard small bird flying overhead, like a goldfinch or House Finch, either, especially early in the morning when birds may still be ending their overnight migration and looking for a place to settle down. The upshot is, try to get on any little bird flying over, it may be a good warbler!

Other than the shorebirds feeding in the east "pool" at the meadows, most of the action was in the air today. Of the shorebirds, a single Stilt Sandpiper was the best = rarest thing I could muster, but watching Semipalmated Sandpipers quibble with each other, or Lesser Yellowlegs delicately forage, is fine shorebirding.

Other highlights included:

 [Continuing a theme of juveniles: this is a juvenile Green Heron, showing the nice, new feathers, all in the same good condition, and buffy feather edgings, marks of other juveniles featured in posts below.]

 [Juvenile Little Blue Heron, a fly-in at the meadows this morning. The dark tips to the flight feathers are a good way to separate this bird from a Snowy Egret, but be sure to notice how narrow they are - they tend to disappear on the folded wing, especially against a dark background. The bicolored bill and green legs are additional clues. A group of migrating herons I saw later at the meadows included about a dozen Snowy Egrets and a single Tricolored Heron.]

[The primaries of Forster's Terns get worn by late summer, and turn dark, causing potential confusion with Common Tern. On this Forster's, notice how dark the outer two primaries are against the newly growing inner primaries.]


  1. I guess you missed the "Black Rail" too...

  2. That's not an adult Forster's though, right Don? I believe, if I remember Kaufman's "Advanced Birding" correctly, that would likely be a 2nd summer... I don't think an adult's outer primaries would get that dark... nor do I think they'd have a black bill and have lost their entire cap now... I could be wrong, I guess...

    1. I think you're right about it being a second summer, I don't remember about the wing molt and should have paid attention to what the capped birds were doing wing wise, it seems to me they haven't started molting or at least haven't gotten this far. And no, I did not see any rails. . . ooh boy