Monday, February 17, 2014

A Chilly but Fruitful Cape May Point State Park Walk + Cape May CBC Results

 [Yellow-rumped Warbler forages for cedar berries on the ground at Cape May Point State Park, NJ today.  Click to enlarge photos.]

The truck's thermometer read a chilly 24 degrees when I arrived at Cape May Point State Park this President's Day morning.  The lot was largely empty of cars, and I expected bird activity to be minimal, but was pleasantly surprised, especially wherever there were Eastern Redcedars bearing fruit.  There, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Cedar Waxwings, Eastern Bluebirds, and even a couple Purple Finches foraged. The warblers seemed very ground-focused today, presumably looking for dropped berries, while the others stayed in the trees.

[Cedar Waxwing lives up to its name: it's in an Eastern Redcedar tree and is showing the red waxy feather tips that give it its name, and also age it as at least in its second life year - at least 1 1/2 years old - waxwings in their first year of life do not show the waxy tips.]

In other news, thanks are due to Louise Zemaitis, who compiles the Cape May Christmas Bird Count and who shared the following summation.  The count was held on December 15, 2013, and shows what a winter diversity of birds Cape May offers.

"We recorded a total of 161 species, plus 2 recognizable forms and 8 count week species.

Winter 2013-2014 will long be remembered for snowstorms and Snowy Owls. It is hard to remember the relatively mild weather in December when we were watching hummingbirds, warblers, and buntings. What may have been most memorable about the CBC was the diversity of species and the many write-ins.

Unusual species seen include: King Eider (3), Sandhill Crane (6), Spotted Sandpiper (1), Glaucous Gull (1), Eurasian Collared-Dove (2), Snowy Owl (5), Ruby-throated Hummingbird (1), Archilochus sp. (1), Rufous Hummingbird (2), Western Kingbird (1 on count day, 2 seen together count week), White-eyed Vireo (1), Sedge Wren (1), Lapland Longspur (2), Lark Sparrow (1), and Indigo Bunting (1).

New to the count were Black-and-White Warbler (count week in 2012) and Blue Grosbeak. The cumulative total for the Cape May CBC stands at 270.

Record high numbers include: Northern Shoveler (184), Northern Pintail (225), Wild Turkey (92), Forster’s Tern (64), Merlin (11), and Cedar Waxwing (754)

Additional count week species seen were Tundra Swan, Eurasian Wigeon, Osprey, Lesser Yellowlegs, Marbled Godwit, Short-billed Dowitcher, Long-eared Owl, and Baltimore Oriole.

The 2013 count was the 93rd for Cape May. The next Cape May CBC will be held on December 14, 2014."

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