Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Walk Around the Meadows

[With almost more than a mouthful, this Caspian Tern captured a sunfish so large it had to fly to a safe place to perch on the ground, and struggled with it for over five minutes before downing it. South Cape May Meadows, NJ August 23, 2014. Click to enlarge photos.]

East winds Saturday night and morning made for not much in the migration department, but there were plenty of shorebirds and other things to look and wonder at in the South Cape May Meadows Saturday morning.  A Tricolored Heron was a highlighted, as were hunting terns and a mix of sandpipers including a few Pectorals and Solitaries.

[This American Oystercatcher is an adult because, among other reasons, it is molting its wing feathers in late summer.  Youngsters have new flight feathers that last until the following year.]

[American Copper, South Cape Meadows on Saturday.]

[This is the hind end of a rose mallow bee covered in pollen, which it is bringing to its nesting hole in the path at the South Cape May Meadows for its larvae to feed on when it hatches.  Each hole is occupied by a single bee, though the holes are often found in clusters. The link given is worth a read, they have a fascinating life history.]

[This jewelweed flower photo was supposed to have a hummingbird nectaring on it, but the hummer didn't cooperate.]

Sunday, August 3, 2014

White Ibis in Cape May

 [This juvenile White Ibis at the South Cape Meadows, Cape May, NJ was a delightful evening surprise today.]

[The juvenile White Ibis was flighty, and eventually took off headed east.]

What Happened to the Freiday Bird Blog?

"What happened to the Freiday Bird Blog?"  Enough people have asked me that question since I took most of June and all of July off from posting to the blog that I'm finally inspired, on this rainy Sunday morning without much else to do, to put pen to paper again, so to speak.
I was about to say something like I haven't been getting out much, haven't been getting many good photos, haven't seen anything outstanding to write about since June until just yesterday, August 2, when an American Avocet flew by me, Mark Garland, my wife Beth, son Tim and his companion Allison as we birded at Cape May Point State Park in a light drizzle.  The avocet was high and headed south and no decent photo was possible, but it looped around the point and may still be in the area. Perhaps the pools at the Higbee Beach WMA dike would be a good place to check for it?
Anyhow, I was about to write something like I haven't seen or done much worth writing about, but when I finally downloaded the last month + of photos off the camera I find that not to be true.  I'll let the photos tell the story below. Let's just say the blog took a little summer vacation, maybe because I've been busy with work and life, maybe because I've had a bit of the summer blues which now that southbound migration has begun and we can look forward to new birds every day, well hopefully those blues will move on.
To begin the "summer vacation" story, in late June I had time for an amble around Cape May Point State Park, which at that time had mainly the usual locals, bird wise, plus, much less usual for June, singing Yellow-throated Warbler and Northern Parula.
 [Blue Grosbeak at Cape May Point State Park, June 28, 2014.  Several males sang there that day, more than are usually there, it seemed to me.]

[Least Tern, Cape May Point State Park, June 28, 2014.  Some Least Terns have already headed south (as I write on August 3), they pull out early. I haven't heard how their nesting colony on the South Cape May beach faired this year.  I do know several pairs of American Oystercatchers successfully raised young, but that Piping Plovers have had an abysmal year in Cape May County with, if I've heard correctly, just one nesting pair.]

[Little Wood Satyr, Cape May Point State Park, June 28, 2014.]

In mid-July, Beth and I took our annual camping trip up in north Jersey at High Point State Park with Michael O'Brien and Louise Zemaitis.  This is one of my favorite places on earth. Despite the July time frame, when many birds are too busy feeding young to sing much, we had 57 bird species just from our campsite! 

 [Black Bears are often a bonus in High Point.  This cub was one of three with a sow there during our July camping expedition.]

 [Moonrise over the Kittatinny Ridge in High Point State Park, as seen from our campsite.]

[Lovely, fresh Mourning Cloak at the Kuser Natural area, High Point State Park in mid-July.  This animal may survive to and through the winter, emerging next spring - Mourning Cloaks are one of a few butterflies that overwinter as adults.]

Later in July, Beth and I had occasion to travel to the Tampa, Florida area, mainly to see family, but we did get a little birding in:

 [White Ibis are yard birds around Tampa.]

 [Gray Kingbird at Weedon Island Preserve, FL.  It was good to get this bird back in the file of search images, since they show up, albeit with extreme rarity, in Cape May occasionally.]

[Limpkin at Lettuce Lake Park in Tampa, FL, where they are common.  We don't get these in Cape May, at least not yet.]

Finally, on July 25 we joined the Cape May Bird Observatory Friday evening walk at the Cape May Meadows to see old friends, both human and bird.  The highlight for me was a Bobolink flying over, a sure sign of more southbound birds to come.

[Black Skimmer at the South Cape May Meadows, NJ July 25, 2014.]

So there you have it, that's where the Freiday Bird Blog has been while on summer vacation.  I'm hoping to write more regularly - and more importantly, to get out and bird and enjoy life more regularly again now, so stay tuned.