Sunday, April 29, 2012

Before the Levee Breaks...

By Luke Musher

As the weather continues to be poor for migration, birding continues to be relatively slow around Cape May county.  The wise bird-master and much revered veterinarian-in-training, Ryan Ford, came into town today to bird with me.  We started the morning off at Higbees Beach, expecting it to be slow, and had an okay morning anyway.  2 Ruby-throated Hummingbird, an American Redstart and an Indigo Bunting were first of years for us.  We also had a few Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Black-and-white Warbler, Great-crested Flycatcher and the ubiquitous Prairie Warblers were other good spring birds.  There were a number of White-throated Sparrows around as well, which, for whatever reason, was fairly surprising to me.
Prairie Warbler, Higbees Beach, Cape May, NJ
Prairie Warbler, Higbees Beach, Cape May, NJ
Indigo Bunting, Higbees Beach, Cape May, NJ
After Higbee we birded around Cape Island, but to be honest not too much of note was around.  We checked everywhere from Sunset Beach to Poverty Beach to Bunker Pond to the Beanery to the Meadows.  The only birds of note were a Prothonotary Warbler at the Beanery, Purple Sandpipers at the Canal jetty at Higbees beach, and the 3 Eurasian Collared-Doves at their usual spot.
Ryan told me that he has had trouble getting photos of Red-winged Blackbirds.  Of course he didn't take his camera out for the meadows so I took this one just to rub it in.
We then drove north through Wildwood, checking the coast guard ponds, Two-mile landing, and back bays, but turning up very little.  We made our way north to Nummy Island where a number of shorebirds were hanging out.  The only highlight here were about ten Whimbrel and a beautiful breeding plumage Red Knot in the few hundred other shorebirds that included Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitchers, and Black-bellied Plovers.  
Red Knot (middle) with other shorebirds, Nummy Island, NJ
Red Knot, Nummy Island, NJ
After that we head to Beaver Swamp to look at ibises - ibi? - with the hopes of pulling out a White-faced.  When we arrived somebody claimed to have seen one, and perhaps he did.  We looked for a LONG time, but most of the birds were far out and the heat distortion made it that much more difficult. Lots of Glossy Ibis, though, so definitely lots of potential.  I'll probably be back.  A Pine Warbler and singing Yellow-rumped Warbler were present in the patch of woods at the end of the trail.

Our last stop of the day was Heislerville.  I was glad to see that the water levels had dropped a little since the last time I was there, though they still seemed high.  Some shorebirds were present, though nothing of note - Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers, Dunlin, and Short-billed Dowitcher.  26 Black Skimmer were roosting on the middle island with the Herring, Ring-billed, Laughing, and Great Black-backed Gulls, and Forster's Terns.  Heading back out along the dirt road, we saw our FOY Orchard Oriole.

Tonight, as I'm now looking at the radar, I'm thinking tomorrow we should get a number of new birds as the flood gates open tonight.  I'm sure Drew Weber at Nemesis Bird will have a post on the night's migration in the AM.  Until then, happy birding folks and check out the radar right now!
Radar Right Now (~9PM) from NOAA website. 

1 comment:

  1. Cool photos and thanks for the link! The radar is finally back up and last nights was pretty interesting.