Hawkwatch - Monday, September 25, 2017

The winds finally shifted to the East today; therefore, raptor movement was quite slow today. But we still witnessed bouts of drama out there! Merlins sure are sassy.

This Sharp-shinned Hawk (bottom) was just minding his migrating business
when this Merlin (top) came in to say hi.
Oh, they seem to be getting along nicely.
Just kidding. They hate each other. 
Apparently, these two Merlins can't get along either. Drama queens.

Cape May
Cape May Point, New Jersey, USA
Daily Raptor Counts: Sep 25, 2017
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Species            Day's Count    Month Total   Season Total
------------------ ----------- -------------- --------------
Black Vulture                0              0              0
Turkey Vulture               0             81             81
Osprey                      53           1764           1764
Bald Eagle                   0            124            124
Northern Harrier             2            165            165
Sharp-shinned Hawk          48           4652           4652
Cooper's Hawk               18            460            460
Northern Goshawk             0              0              0
Red-shouldered Hawk          0              1              1
Broad-winged Hawk            6            270            270
Red-tailed Hawk              0             45             45
Rough-legged Hawk            0              0              0
Golden Eagle                 0              0              0
American Kestrel            13           3168           3168
Merlin                      17            622            622
Peregrine Falcon            16            145            145
Unknown Accipiter            0              1              1
Unknown Buteo                0              0              0
Unknown Falcon               0              4              4
Unknown Eagle                0              0              0
Unknown Raptor               0              0              0
Mississippi Kite             0              1              1

Total:                     173          11503          11503
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Observation start time: 05:00:00 
Observation end   time: 16:00:00 
Total observation time: 10.17 hours

Official Counter:        Melissa Roach


Click here for the full eBird checklist: eBird checklist, y'all

Seawatch - Sunday, September 24, 2017

Today was even slower than yesterday for the majority of the day, although a late afternoon flight of scoters made the end exciting.  350 Black Scoters, with 14 Surf Scoters mixed in, were tallied; a good early-season flight.  A distant shearwater sp. early morning and a Parasitic Jaeger mid-day were also highlights.  Only 288 cormorants were seen.
Also of interest were a Brown Trasher and a Red-eyed Vireo that flew in off the ocean in the afternoon.  They were blown out to sea overnight and must have had a long and exhausting journey back to land.

To see the day's totals, check out Trektellen.org http://www.trektellen.org/count/view/1747/20170924
For all species seen, check out my eBird checklist for the day: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S39376026

-David

Hawkwatch - Sunday, September 24, 2017

Despite the southern component of winds, today's raptor movement racked up throughout the morning and afternoon hours. Much of the raptor flight took place to the far north of the platform, often near the limit of binocular view. Even with the distant flight, several raptors were seen flying quite close to the platform.

Several Northern Harriers and Osprey were seen flying by at dawn. Some of the last raptors of the day were Merlins and Peregrine Falcons flying by at eye level.

Immature Northern Harrier


Glossy Ibis

Merlin


Immature Peregrine Falcon 

River Otter foraging in Bunker Pond this morning

We found this balloon on Bunker Pond today. This was the first of three balloons (flying litter) seen today.
Please do not let balloons go.
Today's totals

Hawkwatch - Saturday, September 23, 2017

It was yet ANOTHER fun-filled raptor day yesterday with over 1,200 birds passing through Cape May. Although dominated by Sharp-shinned Hawks, we also saw our first big push of Cooper's Hawks as well as an increase in Northern Harriers.

Cape May
Cape May Point, New Jersey, USA
Daily Raptor Counts: Sep 23, 2017
-------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Species            Day's Count    Month Total   Season Total
------------------ ----------- -------------- --------------
Black Vulture                0              0              0
Turkey Vulture              26             81             81
Osprey                     170           1663           1663
Bald Eagle                  24            117            117
Northern Harrier            63            157            157
Sharp-shinned Hawk         475           4337           4337
Cooper's Hawk              204            423            423
Northern Goshawk             0              0              0
Red-shouldered Hawk          0              1              1
Broad-winged Hawk           28            225            225
Red-tailed Hawk              2             41             41
Rough-legged Hawk            0              0              0
Golden Eagle                 0              0              0
American Kestrel           174           3131           3131
Merlin                      54            594            594
Peregrine Falcon            18            106            106
Unknown Accipiter            0              1              1
Unknown Buteo                0              0              0
Unknown Falcon               0              4              4
Unknown Eagle                0              0              0
Unknown Raptor               0              0              0
Mississippi Kite             0              1              1
 
Total:                    1238          10882          10882
----------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Observation start time: 05:00:00 
Observation end   time: 17:00:00 
Total observation time: 10.83 hours
 
Official Counter:        Brett Ewald

Seawatch - Saturday, September 23, 2017

Today was a considerably slower day than yesterday, highlighted by a Parasitic Jaeger.  Only 547 cormorants were tallied, compared to almost 3000 yesterday.  An early White-winged Scoter, scaup, and a few Surf Scoter were also notable.

To see the day's totals, check out Trektellen.org: http://www.trektellen.org/count/view/1747/20170923

- David

Hawkwatch - Friday, September 22, 2017

Today was just about as great of a day as you can reasonably ask for in Cape May! A day of plentiful raptors, bounding flickers, darting warblers, and swirling swallows surrounded by beautiful scenery and great company.

Before I write any further, take a quick look at who is writing this blog post—it’s not Erik or Melissa! That’s right, it’s Andrew Dreelin, one of your friendly neighborhood interpretive naturalists. Erik was away at a cousin’s wedding in Wisconsin, and Melissa was counting at morning flight, so I got called up to the big leagues today!


A kestrel-like sunrise of warm orange and pale blue-gray greeted me at the platform as I set up for the day, complimented by a backdrop of warbler flight calls. Today was the third day of sustained north winds following hot on the heels of Wednesday’s mega flight of American Kestrel and Sharp-shinned Hawk (you can read more about that day here), so there were high hopes for the day may bring.


Today’s flight was similarly composed of great kestrel and sharpie numbers, echoing Wednesday’s movement. As morning rose, the flight was diffuse; sneaky kestrels popped up over the dunes behind and overhead. But as the day progressed, consistent cloud cover and 5-10 mph NW winds over the course of the day kept temperatures and the flight low, making for an excellent day of hawkwatching. Thanks to the conditions, the flight lines soon crystallized nicely in classic Cape May fashion: a northbound raptor stream moved right to left across Bunker Pond while falcons flew down the dunes by the ocean, sometimes cutting north across the pond and joining the rest, at other times heading out over the Delaware Bay.

Although the day was dominated by American Kestrel (723) and Sharp-shinned Hawk (409), we had a notable uptick of several species with our single-day season high of four different species. There was nary a Buteo to be seen except for a lone, local Red-tail, but we did have 197 Osprey 31 Northern Harrier, 110 Merlin, and 18 Peregrine Falcon! Certainly those highs will be shattered later in the season since many more birds of those species are headed our way, but it’s still a wonderful sign of the inexorable march of fall.

Many highlight species like Northern Harrier also made close passes to be enjoyed by the crowds on the platform. Even though each of the four gray ghosts we saw today stayed distant from us, the pumpkin-orange of this female type individual stood out well as it circled low overhead before clearing away across the parking lot. 


Unlike the relatively confiding harriers, nearly all of the day’s Merlin behaved in characteristic uncooperative fashion by rocketing down the dune line or over the conifers! This individual flew by one unaware gentleman on the dune crossing who has not yet become attuned to the spectacle of migration in Cape May.


 While the raptors were a fantastic spectacle, part of what makes Cape May so exceptional is the supporting cast of migration that on certain days can threaten to steal the show. In the morning hours and throughout the day, several hundred warblers dropped across my scope view and down into the State Park, a humbling and awesome sight. This Cape May Warbler zipped by behind the platform around midday, one of the few flyovers identified that day.


 Cape May wouldn’t be complete without rarities though. A bonus White-winged Dove made two separate passes by the HawkWatch Platform, first picked by Scott Whittle and then later by interpretive naturalist Ben West! This was the second individual of the season, complementing the individual I found on opening day, so it was also the second time that we cranked up Stevie Nicks’ classic “Edge of Seventeen” on the platform in celebration. 


That just about rounds out the day, so I’ll sign off with the classic Peregrine Falcon across the Cape May lighthouse photo. Few other sightings are as emblematic of fall and migration in Cape May!


Today’s count wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing support from my fellow seasonal staffers, the Cape May community, and all of the visiting birders who passed through. Special thanks go out to Erin Rawls, Melissa Roach, Brett Ewald, Ben West, Carolyn Rubinfeld, Scott Whittle, Tom Johnson, and too many more to name! See y’all on the platform!

You can view the full day’s sightings at the eBird checklist here: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S39350067

-Andrew

Cape May
Cape May Point, New Jersey, USA
Daily Raptor Counts: Sep 22, 2017
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Species            Day's Count    Month Total   Season Total
------------------ ----------- -------------- --------------
Black Vulture                0              0              0
Turkey Vulture               0             55             55
Osprey                     197           1493           1493
Bald Eagle                   0             93             93
Northern Harrier            31             94             94
Sharp-shinned Hawk         409           3862           3862
Cooper's Hawk               25            219            219
Northern Goshawk             0              0              0
Red-shouldered Hawk          0              1              1
Broad-winged Hawk            0            197            197
Red-tailed Hawk              0             39             39
Rough-legged Hawk            0              0              0
Golden Eagle                 0              0              0
American Kestrel           723           2957           2957
Merlin                     110            540            540
Peregrine Falcon            18             88             88
Unknown Accipiter            1              1              1
Unknown Buteo                0              0              0
Unknown Falcon               4              4              4
Unknown Eagle                0              0              0
Unknown Raptor               0              0              0
Mississippi Kite             0              1              1

Total:                    1518           9644           9644
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Observation start time: 05:00:00
Observation end   time: 17:00:00
Total observation time: 11.1 hours

Official Counter:        Andrew Dreelin


Seawatch- Friday, September 22, 2017

It was a good first day of the Seawatch season, highlighted by a close northbound Manx Shearwater.  While the northwest winds kept the birds pretty far offshore, nearly 3000 Double-crested Cormorants were tallied.  The majority of the birds moved in the first few hours of the day, but there were flocks scattered throughout the day.  A good showing of Red Bats, Northern Flickers, Monarchs, Merlins, and other non-waterbirds kept the day diverse and exciting throughout.

To see the day's totals, check out Trektellen.org: http://www.trektellen.org/count/view/1747/20170922

Also, feel free to check out the eBird checklist for all the non-seabirds and photos of the Manx! http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S39338483

Make sure to check out what birds are being seen in real-time over on our website: http://www.njaudubon.org/SectionCapeMayBirdObservatory/MigrationMonitoringProjects/LiveData.aspx

Please stop by anytime between now and December 22, sunrise to sunset, between 8th and 9th street in Avalon to witness the amazing spectacle of visible migration in Cape May!

-David


Morning Flight - Friday, September 22, 2017

The songbird flight was dominated by Northern Flickers yesterday morning with a smattering of other goodies mixed in. Some of those goodies included an American Pipit, Dickcissel, and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Sure looks like fall is just around the corner!

Morning Flight Songbird Count for 9/22/2017
Species Count today Season total Season maximum
North South North South North only Date(s)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1 0 74 27 12 8/20
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1 0 1 0 1 9/22
Northern Flicker 310 98 323 102 310 9/22
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1 0 528 31 135 8/20
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1 0 2 0 1 9/21
American Robin 0 4 44 13 12 8/20
American Pipit 1 0 1 1 1 9/22
Cedar Waxwing 29 0 2256 92 607 9/10
Northern Waterthrush 6 1 601 90 48 8/25
Black-and-white Warbler 3 0 848 33 326 9/8
Tennessee Warbler 2 0 220 0 172 9/8
American Redstart 10 2 18203 222 12244 9/8
Northern Parula 34 8 916 23 481 9/8
Magnolia Warbler 1 0 125 5 63 9/8
Blackpoll Warbler 1 0 74 0 23 9/8
Palm Warbler 8 0 23 15 8 9/8
Savannah Sparrow 5 0 16 0 5 9/17
Indigo Bunting 3 2 63 17 6 8/16
Dickcissel 1 0 8 9 2 9/1
Bobolink 1 0 2547 5066 507 9/9
Red-winged Blackbird 1 21 1946 1524 316 8/24
Baltimore Oriole 1 0 189 46 70 9/1
American Goldfinch 9 0 35 7 11 9/15

Your daily dose of Bald Eagle from the dike. The local eagles seem to love looking out over their kingdom from the other side of our dirt pile.

One of the many Northern Flickers flying right past the count.

Here's one of those funky flickers with a splash of pink in his normally yellow flight feathers. You can see lots of these tie-dye flickers throughout the fall here but don't jump to the "hybrid" word; the pink feathers are diet-related.

My FOS (first-of-season) Yellow-bellied Sapsucker flying away.

American Pipit enjoying the glamorous dirt pile.

Hawkwatch - Thursday, September 21, 2017

Time to play catch up with the blogs: the birding has just been TOO good the past few days - who has time for blogs??

Normally, I only count the Hawkwatch on Mondays and Tuesdays, but was happy to take the Thursday shift while our ever-friendly Erik is out of town. While no where CLOSE to being as good as Wednesdays amazing flight of 3,850 raptors, we still enjoyed an excellent movement of birds (859) with loads of Sharp-shinned Hawks and American Kestrels. We were also treated to a single Wood Stork circling over for quite some time.


Cape May
Cape May Point, New Jersey, USA
Daily Raptor Counts: Sep 21, 2017
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Species            Day's Count    Month Total   Season Total
------------------ ----------- -------------- --------------
Black Vulture                0              0              0
Turkey Vulture               0             55             55
Osprey                      68           1296           1296
Bald Eagle                  12             93             93
Northern Harrier             5             63             63
Sharp-shinned Hawk         528           3453           3453
Cooper's Hawk               42            194            194
Northern Goshawk             0              0              0
Red-shouldered Hawk          0              1              1
Broad-winged Hawk           27            197            197
Red-tailed Hawk              4             39             39
Rough-legged Hawk            0              0              0
Golden Eagle                 0              0              0
American Kestrel           130           2234           2234
Merlin                      35            430            430
Peregrine Falcon             8             70             70
Unknown Accipiter            0              0              0
Unknown Buteo                0              0              0
Unknown Falcon               0              0              0
Unknown Eagle                0              0              0
Unknown Raptor               0              0              0
Mississippi Kite             0              1              1

Total:                     859           8126           8126
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Observation start time: 05:00:00 
Observation end   time: 16:00:00 
Total observation time: 10.33 hours

Official Counter:        Melissa Roach

The classic shape of a Sharp-shinned Hawk overhead.

This Merlin was neat with some obvious molt in the wings and tail. 

And our biggest falcon, the Peregrine. Their migration should be gearing up soon.

It's not only raptors! One of the Cape May Wood Storks just as it passed a Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Hawkwatch - Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Today was a day of fast-paced raptor migration that was seemingly endless. Gusty northwest winds took hold overnight and prevailed through the entire day. From a lavender and orange sunrise through the golden-pink colors of late afternoon, it was a memorable day of Sharp-shinned Hawks and American Kestrels galore. Aiming one’s binoculars to the north provided rivers of Sharp-shinned Hawks that went on for hours. This is where the bulk of the migrating raptors were seen. Among the masses of Sharp-shinned Hawks in that direction were movements of fluttery-winged American Kestrels topped with a few canopy-shearing Merlins. To the east were distant kettles of sharpies and kestrels, bounding in the wind gusts while gathering over downtown Cape May. These dense clusters of raptors would eventually make their way to the northeastern viewing limits of the hawkwatching platform. To the south are the sand dunes, where small falcons notoriously zip by with stealth and effortless maneuverability. Lines of up to 17 American Kestrels were seen at one time, making their way around the hawkwatch following this sand dune-lined flight path. Some but not all of them flew along the backside of the lighthouse. In addition to the raptors being seen from all level directions, flight lines of sharpies and kestrels were also seen overhead too, with many of them coming from the downtown area. It was a spectacle of chaotic migration, and it was incredible to count and witness.

A female American Kestrel flies by with those slappy banana peel-like wingbeats.


It’s hard to describe the thrill of counting these birds. Like other hawkwatches, the Cape May Hawkwatch is essentially a migratory “toll booth” where the counter identifies and counts all of the migrating raptors. A day like today keeps you on your toes as you try to savor (or count) every raptor that moves through. Thank goodness for those sport clickers! They really help tally the birds up fast, without the worry of counting the flow of raptors in one’s head as mixed kettles pass on by. You scan one portion of the horizon, then another direction, followed by another direction. Being at Cape May, you scan over your shoulder to check for those falcons barely squeaking by over the dunes, then you scan overhead. Then you do it all over again, all day long. Part of the excitement from today was the magnitude of raptors flying through, and part of the excitement was due to the speed at which these birds were seen flying by.

Immature Sharp-shinned Hawk


Today’s raptor total came to 3,850 raptors, of which consisted mostly of Sharp-shinned Hawks and American Kestrels. The intensity of the flight made some milestones over recent years of the Cape May Hawkwatch.  The 1,056 American Kestrels observed produced the highest single day total of this species since 2005. The 2,682 Sharp-shinned Hawks seen produced the single highest day total since 1998.

Black Skimmer, skimming for food on Bunker Pond.

A total of 3 Wood Storks were seen today!

Today's totals.



Back to back days of northwest winds are in the forecast. There should be good flights of raptors in the days to come. See you at the hawkwatch!