Saturday 10 October 2015

Cape May: The first 2 and a bit days

Arrived at Cape May late afternoon on Wednesday 07 October 2015. The Point had been spared the flooding caused by a nor'easter and the weather was warm and dry. An early evening visit to CMBO  Northwood produced several Yellow-rumped Warblers, Eastern Phoebe, Red-eyed Vireo and the marshes of nearby Cape May Meadows yielded several American duck species with plenty of Swamp Sparrows and a lone Bobolink in the grassy edges.

Thursday  08 October 2015 dawned to light NW winds, the direction birders at Cape May pray for in autumn. A 2 hour stint at Higbees Dike saw a decent and varied morning flight. Whilst it was dominated by Yellow-rumped Warblers, as is typical for the time of year, I picked out Northern Parula, Blackpoll, the 2 'eastern' Black-throateds and Palm Warblers. Other Warbler species were noted by birders with much more experience. Northern Flickers were on the move as were 2 or 3 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. Small groups of Cedar Waxwings, Red-winged Blackbirds, a 'farting' Dickcissel, single Dark-eyed Junco, a Baltimore Oriole, both Kinglets and a couple of American Pipits added to the variety of the visible migration. Later at the Hawkwatch platform within Cape May Point State Park  Northern Harrier and Merlin offered close views to the masses, and the skies held many Cooper's Hawks with a few Sharp-shinned Hawks as well, all mixed in with the Turkey Vultures. An adult Bald Eagle to the north could well have been a local bird. The pond by the Hawkwatch platform, Bunker Pond, held American Wigeon,  both Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail and Gadwall. A 'twitch' on the island to the Cape May Meadows mid afternoon to take in the juv-1st w Hudsonian Godwit. It had arrived earlier in the day and then survived a Cooper's Hawk attack. At times other goodies, namely either a Wilson's Snipe, Yellow-crowned Night Heron or a visiting Eurasian Wigeon (that joined a small group of its American cousins) were in the same field of view as the Godwit. An adult Caspian Tern with a begging youngster in tow distracted the onlookers as they gave several close passes allowing for a few flight shots to be taken

Friday 09 October and 10 mph S winds, not good for visible migration. Slim pickings during the day. Higbees was quiet early morning but an excursion to the old Ponderlodge Golf Course at Villas, now known as Cox Hall Creek, produced perched up Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and White-breasted Nuthatch. Back on Cape Island and the Hawkwatch was slow during the hour or so I was there mid pm, but 3 passage Peregrines were nevertheless nice to see. A Ruddy Duck on Bunker Pond added to the trip list. Nearby a Brown Creeper was on show and I managed to pick up single Blackpoll and Pine Warblers amongst the marauding Yellow-rumped Warblers hanging around Cape May Point. The trio of 'Hudwit', YC  N Heron and Eurasian Wigeon continued at the Meadows which also sported an imm. Little Blue Heron trying to pass itself off as a Snowy Egret. A Common Nighthawk was in the air just before dusk here. Lightning to the south west as dusk fell heralded a cold front on its way, which soon encroached and knocked out power on some/all? of Cape Island at around 8.30pm during an electrical storm. Thankfull, power now restored.

It was also nice to catch up with the Cape May birding scene, good to be back. Saturday is the big sit, hope I can help.