Friday, January 24, 2020

Wandering Around Cape May

[Harris's Sparrow at a private Cape Island feeder this morning. Thank-you to the homeowners, and the venerable Keith Seager gets an assist. Interestingly, it seems to my eye to be an adult winter, not a first winter, which is what the "magic field" bird last fall apparently was. A fancy yard bird indeed.]

It had been a looong time since I'd seen a Harris's Sparrow in NJ, something like 34 years (god I'm old), which was a bird near Black River WMA found, I think, by David Harrison, and I'd never seen one in Cape May, so forth I set. HASP is a pain to see, I've seen them in the west but if you look at their range map you will find they are not typically places birders normally go much. My son says he's going to look for one at the Katy Prairie in Texas this weekend.

It was a kick talking with Keith Seager about birds, bird declines, insect declines, and cedar islands on the edge of Delaware Bay, which often sit on shell middens left by Native Americans. There's one midden on the bayshore a solid hike north of my house.

After that I wandered about the island on foot, locating the continuing Pine Warbler and finally tracking down the long-staying Ash-throated Flycatcher at Cape May Point State Park. The flycatcher actually called a very few times, and I also found the PIWA by its chip.

Other than that it was the usual suspects. Sometimes what you don't find is also interesting, my current poster child in that department is Mourning Dove, which seem decidedly scarce here this winter. Not that I'm worried, MODO's are remarkably fecund so if they did have a bad year, they'll bounce back.

My list for the island, save the HASP, is below.

 Cape Island - south of canal, Cape May, New Jersey, US
Jan 24, 2020 8:15 AM - 1:08 PM
Protocol: Traveling
5.0 mile(s)
44 species

Brant (Atlantic)  12
Canada Goose  186
Mute Swan  26
Wood Duck  1
Northern Shoveler  2
Gadwall  17
American Wigeon  6
Mallard  328
Ring-necked Duck  41     Actual count
Lesser Scaup  1
Bufflehead  24
Hooded Merganser  1
Virginia Rail  1
American Coot  2
Killdeer  2
Greater Yellowlegs  1
Great Blue Heron  1
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Downy Woodpecker (Eastern)  1
Northern Flicker  4
Ash-throated Flycatcher  1     Continuing, calling lightly, single burry notes, soft “Bert.” About six notes over 15 minutes. Washed out yellow belly, rufous tail. Pale wing bars. Whitish gray throat. Upright posture, roughly NOCA sized but slender, more elongated.
Blue Jay  8
American Crow  4
Carolina Chickadee  2
Winter Wren  1
Carolina Wren  16
European Starling  6
Gray Catbird  2
Brown Thrasher  2
Northern Mockingbird  2
Hermit Thrush  1
American Robin  22
House Sparrow  22
House Finch  15
Fox Sparrow  2
Dark-eyed Junco  8
White-throated Sparrow  26
Savannah Sparrow  4
Song Sparrow  2
Red-winged Blackbird  10
Common Grackle  10
Pine Warbler  1     Continuing.
Yellow-rumped Warbler  42
Northern Cardinal  4

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