Monday, 28 November 2016

Last chance

23 September 2016

Cape May

A final Higbee Meadows start was quickly interrupted by three large birding groups that encouraged me to move on from the platform. I decided to search the second field for yesterday's Connecticut Warbler, just incase it was still around. A Grey-cheeked Thrush hopped into view briefly on the island but was chased away by a Cardinal.  The Scarlet Tanager was still hiding in the vines and the White-eyed Vireo was still along the woodland edge. A few Yellowthroats gave hope as the odd American Redstart, Black and White, Parula and Red-eyed Vireo flew over. There was no sign of the Connecticut but a Lincoln's Sparrow flushed from the Millet at the end of the field and showed briefly. Northern Flickers and Red-bellied Woodpeckers flew over and a Cooper's Hawk and 2 Sharpies hunted around the fields. A Merlin tried unsuccessfully to surprise a group of a dozen Northern Flicker. 

Gray Catbird
I returned to field 1 and walked up the island, flushing a small pale sparrow from the field edge, a Le Contes. I walked through the gap and found a number of birds feeding along the western edge being watched by a small group of birders from the path opposite. I stood still and quietly to see what would show. Two Chipping Sparrows were among the Indigo Bunting and American Goldfinches. A number of Yellowthroat were also feeding along the edge hopping into view at times. A couple of Red-eyed Vireo, an American Redstart and a Parula added variety. Grey Catbirds and Cardinals were also in the hedge and a Downy Woodpecker showed briefly. A small group of Yellowthroats started to show along the edge, just as a passing Merlin caused most of the birds to flush, so I wandered back down the hedge to the path and tried the second field border, hoping to stumble on the Connecticut. With no sign I walked back up to be told that moments after I left the island the Connecticut Warbler showed down the end and flicked into the wood. Bugger. 

Chipping Sparrow

Red-eyed Vireo

I returned to the area to find nobody looking - everyone, and I mean everyone, including all three groups had seen it - except me. After standing along the edge staring into the woods I remembered a path into the wood and walked a short way in. Pishing produced a White-eyed Vireo and a Yellowthroat plus the usual House Wren and Carolina Wrens. I walked back out to find a couple, one in a bright white T shirt and the other in a flourescent-green jacket, looking at the bushes and consulting their iPhone. I was told they had been looking at something the whole time I'd been in the wood. I walked closer to discover they'd had the Connecticut warbler, in full view, and exactly where I'd been standing just minutes earlier. Double bugger. 

I checked along the hedge for another 40 minutes seeing maybe 6 Yellowthroat but not the warbler. We tried later in the day again but the sun had come out reducing feeding activity and making viewing more difficult. Maybe next time.....

Sunday, 27 November 2016

My Cape May Nemesis returns

22 September 2016

Cape May

Early start at Higbees Meadows. First bird was an Ovenbird that appeared in full view in front of the viewing ramp, followed by a Blackpoll Warbler that hopped slowly past. Warblers and Vireos started to pass with increasing regularity and speed. Those that stopped were mainly Parula and American Redstart, with Black and White also well represented. The odd different species also appeared, but not in any numbers. 

The bird I most wanted to see, largely as it eluded me last time and is a skulker, was Connecticut Warbler. A few were seen last time flying over at the morning flight but I never looked onto one, and quite frankly I wanted more than a flight view. I had walked all the trails checking every Yellowthroat, with which they often associate. I'd walked behind a local birder who turned left when I turned right - he'd seen one hop up in front of him within 30 paces. I'd got close, but not connected - some unfinished business.

This trip they'd had a couple fly over at the morning flight, and the ringers had caught one by the State Park, so they were coming through. As I walked the Meadows this morning news came through that one of the locals had just seen one in field 3. I raced down and walked the field edge towards them. As I got close a Yellowthroat flicked into view, but nothing else, before I reached them. They'd been watching it as I approached and it was with the Yellowthroat. I turned and walked the edge again. This time the Yellowthroat flicked up and a second bird flew low away into deeper cover. It didn't show. Just then a lady arrived and showed me a photo of the bird that had been shared on WhatsApp. Already the experts were commenting and it wasn't positive news. They all agreed it wasn't a Connecticut, but if not I couldn't see what else it was. Unfortunately this distracted me and I went looking elsewhere. 

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 2
Blue Grosbeak 3
Scarlet Tanager 2
Indigo Bunting 5
American Goldfinch 30
Northern Flicker 7
Downy Woodpecker 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2
Gray Catbird 20
Brown Thrasher 3

Black and White Warbler

Parula Warbler 50
Black and White Warbler 15
Magnolia Warbler 2
Prairie Warbler 1
Palm Warbler 15
Common Yellowthroat 12
Blackpoll Warbler 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler 1
American Redstart 15
Ovenbird 1

Parula Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Red-eyed Vireo 35
White-eyed Vireo 2
Tree Swallow
Bald Eagle 2
Northern Harrier 2
Merlin 3
American Kestrel 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 2
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture
Swainson's Thrush 1

Swainson's Thrush

Willow Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Alder Flycatcher 1
Willow Flycatcher 1
Eastern Wood Peewee 1
Great-crested Flycatcher 1
Red-breasted Nuthatch 2
Tufted Titmouse 7
Carolina Chickadee 
Carolina Wren

Prairie Warbler

Northern Harrier

Later the negativity lifted and all agreed it was a Connecticut in an odd pose. Bugger! I returned to the field and walked the edge, but it was getting later and hotter and even the Yellowthroats were becoming skulky. I did manage to find a few Empids hiding in the vegetation.

Spent early afternoon on Higbees Beach. 3 Great Egret came in off. A juv Bald Eagle, a Peregrine, 2 Merlin, and American Kestrel and 7 Osprey flew over. Also Royal, Forster's and Common Terns plus Laughing, American Herring, GBB Gulls. Tree Swallows and Palm Warblers. 

I returned to Higbee Meadows in the evening and walked the field edges, but this failed to produce the Connecticut Warbler again despite much effort right up until dusk. I did manage to find a showy Alder Flycatcher and a smart Lincoln's Sparrow in the last field just as the light faded.

Empidonax Flycatcher 3
White-eyed Vireo 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Yellowthroat 7
Cooper's Hawk 1
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher
Lincolns Sparrow 1

 A large moth landed briefly

Palm Warbler

Common Yellowthroat
Alder Flycatcher - a very approachable bird

Alder Flycatcher - a second less approachable bird
Brown Thrasher

Thursday, 24 November 2016

A day I never wanted to end

21 September 2016

Cape May


When the day starts with a showy Ovenbird you know its going to be good....
Finally a showy Ovenbird

A snapped record of a Nashville Warbler
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Blue-winged Warbler 1
Nashville Warbler 1
Palm Warbler 3
Tennessee Warbler 2
Yellowthroat 10
Black and White Warbler 10
Parula Warbler 25
Prairie Warbler 2
Ovenbird 1
White-eyed Vireo 6
Red-eyed Vireo 15
Philadelphia Warbler 1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 4
Blue Grosbeak 2
Indigo Bunting 3
American Goldfinch 20
Chimney Swift 2
Tree Swallow 20
Merlin 4
Osprey 5 
Northern Flicker 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker 7
Downy Woodpecker 1
Scarlet Tanager 1
Gray Catbird 60

White-eyed Vireo

Gray Catbird

Rea's Farm
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
Brown Thrasher 1
Gray Catbird 3

South Meadows
Eurasian Wigeon 1
American Wigeon 8
Blue-winged Teal
Green-winged Teal
Great Egret 5
Snowy Egret 3
Pectoral Sandpiper 3
Lesser Yellowlegs 8
Greater Yellowlegs 10
Cooper's Hawk 1
Merlin 1

Least Sandpiper

A Merlin catching dragonflies over the South Meadows
Small Yellow - a scarce butterfly here
Solitary Sandpiper
Snapping Turtle

Snowy Egret
American Wigeon

Eurasian Wigeon
Lesser Yellowlegs
Greater Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs

Lily Lake
This evening Lily Lake really came good. On our previous trip to Cape May our evening visits always produced a classy display of warblers in the lakeside bushes and gardens. This time it had not been as good with fewer birds and harder work. Tonight that changed, good numbers and some real class. The highlight of the whole trip occurred when a stunning Blue-headed Vireo appeared near the Observatory. While watching it moved up into some large Poplars. As I followed it through the lower branches it hopped out of view behind the trunk. As I walked further along the road the vireo hopped out following the same line. However as I raised my bins it had mysteriously turned into a Yellow-throated Vireo! With Red-eyed, White-eyed and Philadelphia also in the bushes it was a fantastic end to another great day.

Cape May Warbler 1
Pine Warbler 1
Blackpoll Warbler 1
Magnolia Warbler 2
Prairie Warbler 1
Black and White Warbler 4
Parula Warbler 10
Nashville Warbler 1
Northern Waterthrush 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2
Eastern Wood Pewee 1
Great-crested Flycatcher 1
Red-eyed Vireo 6
Philadelphia Vireo 1/2
Yellow-throated Vireo 1
Blue-headed Vireo 1
Bobolink 8
Cedar Waxwing 30
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Peregrine 1
Merlin 5
America Kestrel 2
Coopers Hawk 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Bald Eagle 2
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture
Osprey 20
Green Heron 1
Tree Swallow 20
Downy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 1
Belted Kingfisher 1
American Robin 5
House Finch 1
Catbird 1
Blue Jay 3
Scarlet Tanager 1

Wilsons Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
White-eyed Vireo

Yellow Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Parula Warbler

Prairie Warbler

Female Black-throated Blue Warbler

Female American Redstart
Blue-headed Vireo

Cape May Warbler

Philadelphia Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo

Parula Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Blue-headed Vireo
What an absolute stunner!

Cape May Warbler

Parula Warbler

Male American Redstart
Wow, Wow, Wow!

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-headed Vireo about to transform...
It pops out the other side of the tree trunk and turns into a Yellow-throated Vireo

Another stunning looking bird
Downy Woodpecker