Sunday, July 12, 2015

July: Thoughts and Pictures from Here and There

[Wait, it's fall on July 9? This Ovenbird at Cape May Point State Park thought so. Vince Elia, who birds the park almost every day, told me he hadn't had one there since the second week of May, so this bird was a migrant. Click to enlarge photos. . . and for the photographers, this one was at ISO 6400, 1/200th . . . Nikons can do a few things pretty well.]

There's been a lot of chatter over the airwaves (jerseybirds, Cape May Field Birders, Keekeekerr) about fall migration. Jeesh, it's July. But even I am rushing the season - or not.  We can long for and love the migrants, but the bird residents are doing cool stuff right now, raising families, molting. . . a lot to be learned, and not just about birds.

[Southbound migration of Eastern Willets is pronounced in July, e.g. this group, part of a 22 bird flock, over Stites Sound back of Avalon, NJ on July 5, 2015.]

On the summer resident breeding birds, I saw my first fledged juvenile Forster's Tern of the season at the South Cape May Meadows, well away from the nearest breeding colony, on July 9, and flying juvenile Laughing Gulls can now be seen in the back bays, and soon will be appearing farther afield.

[This juvenile Great Black-backed Gull, right, with attending parent, has mostly fully formed feathers, but look at the back end - no flight feathers yet.  Part of a colony inland from Townsend's Inlet, NJ, the young GBBG's could not yet fly, and began escaping by swimming when I landed my kayak, prompting me to leave the colony right away.  No sense disturbing these birds, though one could easily argue that the world be better off with fewer GBBG's - if one were a tern, coot, migrating flicker, duck, or anything else that these predacious gulls attack. July 5, 2015.]

[The Herring Gulls in the same colony are behind the Great Black-backeds' schedule, with only downy chicks on July 5, 2015.]

[I was seeing what I though was an unusual number of Common Terns west of Avalon/Townsend's Inlet on July 5th, until I came upon a new-to-me nesting colony next to the Herring/Great Blacked-backed colony. One might worry about how the terns will protect their offspring from the big gulls, but there were over 30 terns, and I watched the group kick the snot out of a few passing gulls. . .]

[We interrupt this butterfly count for. . . I participated in the annual Cape May butterfly count on July 7, working a section of the bayshore north of my Del Haven, NJ home.  Didn't find many butterflies (due to mosquito spraying? Lack of habitat?), but there were consolations.]

[Black Racer on High's Beach Road during the butterfly count.]

[And the rarest thing I've found lately, an albino Gray Squirrel on High's Beach Road during the July 7, 2015 butterfly count. Fascinating, and fun.]

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