Morning Flight – 20 August 2014

 By the data tallied below you can see that it wasn't a flight day. One hour after sunup a few waves of Eastern Kingbird moved forces to the north and the southeast. I wonder what they will look like they are up to tomorrow, perhaps it'll be continued trolling for warm, insect-laden corridors and sassafras treetops. Similar weather is forecast for tomorrow AM that is preceding a decent sized high pressure-low pressure battle originating in the western Altlantic Ocean with the potential to affect us birdwise.

       Weather and time: mostly clear; 66–76ºF; winds E at 5-7 mph; 5% cloud cover; very good; 0617 sunrise; 2.25 hours.
       Morning Flight Count totals

Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)  88
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea)  7
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)  2
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  24
Northern Waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis)  4
American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)  2
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  1
warbler sp. (Parulinae sp.)  1
Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus)  1
Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)  2
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  41

Today's full list can be viewed at:

The ever so slightly migratory (??)...
Think about it over a kingbird intermission

Northern Mockingbird, in juvenile plumage. (Photos by: Glen Davis)

Morning Flight – 19 August 2014

Today was light in the Morning Flight department. There weren't too many neotropical migrants present (but when can you have TOO many!?) and even fewer seemingly interested in flying for this counter. Flight direction was quite variable and across the board-- more on this below. House Finch led the trickle, and there was a small but present movement of shorebirds, swallows, and blackbirds.

       Weather and time: mostly clear; 64–77ºF; winds E at 10 mph; 20% cloud cover; visibility excellent; 0616 sunrise; 3.25 hours.
       Morning Flight Count totals

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)  2
Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)  7
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea)  4
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  1
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)  1
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  29
Northern Waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis)  10
Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia)  1
Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea)  1
American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)  3
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  8
Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis)  1
warbler sp. (Parulinae sp.)  2
Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus)  28
Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)  1
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  48
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  3

Today's full list can be viewed at:

So where does the Morning Flight Project, sponsored by Swarovski Optik, take place?  At the diked impoundment at Higbee Beach WMA (Wildlife Management Area), or just the 'Higbee Dike' to those familiar with it.

As seen from space.......

Hey, that's better! Now we can see the Cape May penisula.

The birds and birders are really closing in now

Everything south of the Cape May canal, including the Coast Guard base around the harbor, is called Cape Island.

That gray slab of mud that the arrow points to is the impoundment, itself.

On days with favorable conditions the night before to bring nocturnal migrants to the area, most species counted at Morning Flight are heading north, often following the contours of ground features, and pass within about 200 meters of the counting location. The birds that are counted, at least, are within 200 meters. Birds are not limited to north-ward paths however, and on a day such as today a variety of flight directions were observed.

Which way will the birds be headed on your first visit?

Morning Flight – 18 August 2014

 The night's radar portended a good showing at the dike this morning. While a discernible migration was at hand, the early morning calls of out-of-limit Bobolinks and the altidutinous 'zeep' calls of likely Yellow Warblers gave suspicion that there might have been some birds missed due to these open, gentle conditions. The flight from the early morning built momentum and seemed to peak between 45 and 90 minutes after dawn. A smattering of warblers, mixed with a few Red-eyed Vireos and Downy Woodpeckers started off the peak time, and was to be finished off by a nice showing of Baltimore Orioles (28 for the day). Groups of Eastern Kingbird, young House Finch, swallows, Red-winged Blackbird, and House Sparrow were also to be seen.

You know it's a good day in Cape May when your friends come up to see the flight with you. Doubly good when you are encased in sweet Swarovision EL bins supplied by our sponsor Swarovski Optik!

       Weather and time: mostly clear; 64–77ºF; winds NNE at 5-10 mph; visibility excellent; 0615 sunrise; 4.25 hrs.
       Morning Flight Count totals:

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)  8
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  3
Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus)  2
Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)  198     southbound movement
Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus)  7
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  3
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  100
Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorum)  2
Louisiana Waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla)  1
Northern Waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis)  13
Blue-winged Warbler (Vermivora cyanoptera)  1
Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia)  5
Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea)  1
American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)  31
Northern Parula (Setophaga americana)  1
Blackburnian Warbler (Setophaga fusca)  1
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  28
Prairie Warbler (Setophaga discolor)  3
warbler sp. (Parulinae sp.)  13
Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)  6
Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus)  193     southbound movement
Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)  28
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  77
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  5
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  13

Today's full list can be viewed at:

Yellow Warbler  calls on a glide; Photo by: Tom Reed

Bank Swallow, known around the globe as Collared Sand Martin (Riparia riparia); Photo by: Glen Davis

The mother of all hunters... and shots! Sphecius speciosus, the cicada killer wasp by: Tom Reed

Morning Flight – 17 August 2014

 Dawn broke on day two of the Morning Flight Project with good visibility, a cool breeze from the southwest, and a smattering of landbirds putting in the ole' morning flight try.  Being my first day of counting, I sure was excited to!  Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were the most obvious and numerous of these, with 33 counted.  The environs around the dike harbored more migrants hanging around such as about 115 Eastern Kingbirds and 3 Tennessee Warblers, all adults. Other highlights were a close-passing Black Tern, juvenile Peregrine Falcon, and the juvenile male Cooper's Hawk that greeted me before dawn. I look forward to the experiences I know to expect from the dike in the upcoming weeks.  I hope to see you there with me!

       Weather and time: mostly cloudy; 68–76ºF; winds southwest at 8-10 mph; visibility excellent; 0615 sunrise; 4.25 hrs.
       Morning Flight Count totals:

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 33
Louisiana Waterthrush - 1
Northern Waterthrush - 2
Louisiana/Northern Waterthrush - 1
Black-and-white Warbler - 1
American Redstart - 4
Yellow Warbler - 4
warbler sp. - 2
Bobolink - 3     southbound
Orchard Oriole - 1

Today's full list can be viewed at:

These four Laughing Gulls vying for a tasty morsel was mirrored by the efforts of the four humans (and one dog) at the dike trying the same for a songbird engaged in morning flight behavior. Photo by:  Glen Davis

Black Tern right over the road.  Photo by: Glen Davis