Sunday, October 13, 2013

Coop takes Merlin (!) And Other Big Sit News

None of us had ever seen anything ever take a Merlin before, but if you wait long enough at Cape May, you see things you don't expect. So it was that this Merlin, seemingly invincible as it wove a crazy path across the sky in the high winds above the state park, was snatched from mid-air by a Cooper's Hawk. From the height of aerobatic skill to a meal for one bad-ass Coop. Wow, and then some. No human reflexes could catch a Merlin from mid-air, and mine weren't good enough to even catch the event on film. 
A bunch of us were gathered on the hawk watch platform for the annual Big Sit, which was going well from the standpoint that at least it wasn't raining and we were solidly over 100 species by mid-morning, but the wind was whistling out of the east to the point where there were whitecaps on Bunker Pond, and no record number would be posted today. Good birds were around, though, including two sneaky Common Gallinules picked by Michael O'Brien as they skulked in the Bunker Pond reeds. Gallinule thus became year bird # 300 for NJ for me. Finally got that milestone behind me.
Tonight's going to be the first night in several days without rain, and the wind is supposed to stay out of the northeast but at least moderate to the mid-teens. I'm more than a little curious about what might migrate tonight, and what will wind up in Cape May in the morning. 
 [Dickcissel feeding near the hawkwatch platform at Cape May Point State Park during the Big Sit today. Click to enlarge photos.]

 [Peregrines found the east wind to their liking.]

[This Eastern Meadowlark was bird number 99 of the Cape May Big Sit.]

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