Friday, January 2, 2015

Cape May 1/2--White-winged Dove

Shari & I drove down to Cape May to continuing kicking off our year list. The last couple of times we went down on the first we had 67 species with a lot of stops plus driving up the coast. Today, we did it rather leisurely and still came up with 55 species, including some tasty specimen.

Our first surprise was a Tundra Swan on Bunker Pond, in with the mutes. It had its head tucked into its shoulder but even just seeing the eye and a little yellow dot at the base of the bill was enough to give us the i.d. We see them so many of them so often around here that it's funny to get your first on down in Cape May where they're scarce but not considered rare.

After a nice walk around the park, tallying 38 species, we drove over to what I call the "college streets." At the corner of Yale & Coral we ran into a couple from North Carolina making their first visit to the Cape. They were in search of the same rarity as we were. Another birder pulled up, asked what were looking for and said, basically, "Here, I'll show you."

Buried deep in the boughs of a holly tree, if you stood in just the right place and looked in at a certain angle you could see a White-winged Dove, a bird that seems to be appearing more often in NJ, especially around Cape May--we had one there last year on the first. We even managed a photo of it:
White-winged Dove
Photo: Shari Zirlin
Previous to this sighting we saw an Osprey, a very late bird, fly overhead with a fish in its talons. Since Osprey make their living diving into water to get fish, hanging around in the winter, when the water freezes, is not a great strategy, but so far this winter has been fairly mild. Later we saw the bird eating its prey atop a utility pole at the corner of Lincoln & Lehigh.

Cackling Goose (right)
After lunch we stopped by the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge, otherwise known as "the meadows." I had a target bird here too, and since it was reported near the observation deck, we reversed our normal walk and started at the end of the trail. Another birder was just descending when we arrived. He confirmed the target was there. Now to find it. I set up the scope and just by accident focused in on some geese. One of which turned out to be yet another Cackling Goose. I hadn't realized they were visiting the meadows too, but a look through the alerts shows the bird(s) in attendance for at least a week.

This is the bird I was looking for: A Redhead.
My fellow birder said there were 3 in the marsh. I always say I only need 1 and later came up with a hen to make two. The photos are little grainy, but they'll do.

A quick trip to Sunset Beach and its crumbling concrete ship where we added 1 hen Common Eider to the day list completed our day--except for the pigeons we saw on a wire at the Parkway's Exit 0

Species                 First Sighting
Cackling Goose     Cape May Meadows
Canada Goose     Cape May Point SP
Mute Swan     Cape May Point SP
Tundra Swan     Cape May Point SP
Gadwall     Cape May Point SP
American Wigeon     Cape May Point SP
American Black Duck     Cape May Point SP
Mallard     Cape May Point SP
Northern Shoveler     Cape May Point SP
Northern Pintail     Cape May Point SP
Green-winged Teal     Cape May Point SP
Redhead     Cape May Meadows
Ring-necked Duck     Cape May Point SP
Common Eider     Sunset Beach/Concrete Ship
Surf Scoter     Cape May Meadows
Black Scoter     Cape May Point SP
Bufflehead     Cape May Point SP
Hooded Merganser     Cape May Point SP
Ruddy Duck     Cape May Point SP
Pied-billed Grebe     Cape May Meadows
Double-crested Cormorant     Cape May Point SP
Great Blue Heron     Cape May Point SP
Black Vulture     Cape May Point SP
Turkey Vulture     Cape May Point SP
Osprey     Cape May Pt--Coral & Yale
Cooper's Hawk     Cape May Point SP
Red-tailed Hawk     Cape May Point SP
American Coot     Cape May Point SP
Ruddy Turnstone     Cape May Meadows
Sanderling     Cape May Meadows
Bonaparte's Gull     Cape May Meadows
Ring-billed Gull     Cape May Point SP
Herring Gull     Cape May Meadows
Great Black-backed Gull     Cape May Meadows
Rock Pigeon     GSP Exit 0
White-winged Dove     Cape May Pt--Coral & Yale
Mourning Dove     Cape May Pt--Lincoln Ave
Belted Kingfisher     Cape May Point SP
Red-bellied Woodpecker     Cape May Point SP
Downy Woodpecker     Cape May Point SP
American Crow     Cape May Meadows
Tree Swallow     Cape May Point SP
Carolina Chickadee     Cape May Point SP
Tufted Titmouse     Cape May Point SP
White-breasted Nuthatch     Cape May Point SP
Carolina Wren     Cape May Point SP
Ruby-crowned Kinglet     Cape May Point SP
American Robin     Cape May Point SP
Northern Mockingbird     Cape May Pt--Lincoln Ave
European Starling     Cape May Point SP
Yellow-rumped Warbler     Cape May Point SP
White-throated Sparrow     Cape May Point SP
Northern Cardinal     Cape May Point SP
House Finch     Cape May Point SP
House Sparrow     Cape May Pt--Coral & Yale

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