Sea Watch Tuesday December 22, 2009

Ladies and gentlemen, that's a wrap. The beginning of winter has finally arrived, and with it so too has the end of the fall counting season here at Cape May. It was certainly an enjoyable autumn of counting seabirds (not to mention all the other birds), and I know Nick joins me (from Maryland) in saying a big "Thank you!" to the Cape May birding community, all the visitors to the Avalon seawatch, and the CMBO for helping to make it so.

(all photos copyright Doug Gochfeld)
The star of the final day, an adult Black-headed Gull (top), wth an adult Bonaparte's Gull below it

The spiffy drake Common Goldeneye that dropped into the seawatch briefly this morning

Can you ID the mid-dive Scoter?

It wouldn't be a fitting end to the season without a photo of these guys

There was no Alcid for the conclusion of the seawatch, nor did the Gannet number overtake the Cormorant number, but the season did end with at east one very notable, and for a change cooperative, bird. From sunrise onward Bonaparte's Gulls were making their presence felt in a big way, and at around 9:40 in their distant midst all of a sudden an adult Black-headed Gull appeared. Over the next several hours it stayed in view most of the time, and it eventually moved closer and more than satisfactory views were had by all the visitors (5) who came out for the last day of the Seawatch.

Long-tailed Ducks were again moving in good numbers, especially for the first 3 hours after sunrise, and Red-breasted Mergansers were no slouches today either. Highlights on the water included a single drake Common Goldeneye showing off very nicely in the bright sun for a brief period, and a couple of Horned Grebes around the inlet. A single Red Knot heading south in the company of 3 Black-bellied Plovers was the first I've seen in a while at Avalon, and the flock of 7 Wood Ducks heading into the inlet from out over the ocean was a bit of a surprise as well. Non-waterbird wise there were a couple of notables: American Pipit, Savannah Sparrow, and the last raptor I saw during the counting season (I know one hawk counter who'd love this) was a juvenile Northern Harrier booking south well offshore through the swathes of Bonaparte's Gull.

Below is the list from today, and below that are the totals from the year:

Location: Avalon Seawatch
Observation date: 12/22/09
Notes: Final day of the Seawatch. Clear skies, west wind (~12+ MPH). BHGU
stayed around from when it was found (~9:30 AM) until dusk at which time it was
roosting on the ocean just outside the inlet.
Number of species: 43

Brant 11
Canada Goose 176
Wood Duck 7
American Black Duck 58
Mallard 11
Lesser Scaup 2
Common Eider 2
Surf Scoter 239
White-winged Scoter 38
Black Scoter 332
Long-tailed Duck 164
Bufflehead 2
Common Goldeneye 1
Red-breasted Merganser 57
Red-throated Loon 387
Common Loon 27
Horned Grebe 2
Northern Gannet 175
Double-crested Cormorant 36
Turkey Vulture 5
Northern Harrier 1
Black-bellied Plover 3
Red Knot 1
Sanderling 20
Purple Sandpiper 18
Dunlin 4
Bonaparte's Gull 563
Black-headed Gull 1
Ring-billed Gull 289
Herring Gull 697
Great Black-backed Gull 14
Carolina Wren 1
Northern Mockingbird 1
European Starling X
American Pipit 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Savannah Sparrow 1
White-throated Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco 1
Northern Cardinal X
Red-winged Blackbird 2
Boat-tailed Grackle 49
House Sparrow X

SEASON TOTALS (all-time high numbers in bold, all-time low in italics)
Snow Goose 2684
Brant 3554
Canada Goose 5593
Goose, sp. 42
Tundra Swan 96
Wood Duck 822
Gadwall 43
American Wigeon 124
American Black Duck 2323
Mallard 456
Mallard/Black Duck 70
Blue-winged Teal 104
Northern Shoveler 42
Northern Pintail 2858
Green-winged Teal 7077
Canvasback 10
Redhead 0
Ring-necked Duck 49
Greater Scaup 623
Lesser Scaup 557
Scaup sp. 334
Aythya, sp. 325
King Eider 5
Common Eider 851
Harlequin Duck 13
Surf Scoter 110987
White-winged Scoter 895
Black Scoter 122090
Dk-wing Scoter 85543
Scoter sp. 4618
Long-tailed Duck 1793
Bufflehead 634
Common Goldeneye 58
Hooded Merganser 115
Common Merganser 0
Red-breasted Merganser 1549
Ruddy Duck 21
Red-throated Loon 63066
Common Loon 1477
Loon sp. 15
Horned Grebe 29
Red-necked Grebe 1
Northern Gannet 119001
Brown Pelican 635
Double-crested Cormorant 119888
Great Cormorant 78
Americam Bittern 0
Great Blue Heron 875
Great Egret 521
Snowy Egret 182
Little Blue Heron 3
Tricolored Heron 9
Egret sp. 0
Green Heron 1
Black-crowned Night-Heron 0
Glossy Ibis 1
Laughing Gull 6731
Bonaparte's Gull 1259
Ring-billed Gull 19425
Herring Gull 13847
Iceland Gull 0
Lesser Black-backed Gull 7
Great Black-backed Gull 2676
Black-legged Kittiwake 2
Gull, sp. 812
Caspian Tern 114
Black Tern 0
Common Tern 113
Forster's Tern 2919
Royal Tern 1092
Tern sp. 0
Black Skimmer 280
Parasitic Jaeger 71
Jaeger, sp. 1
Razorbill 0
Alcid, sp. 0
Cackling Goose 1
Pacific Loon 1
Cory's Shearwater 1
Black-headed Gull 1
Dabbler sp. 404
American Oystercatcher 770
Duck sp. 685
Teal sp. 8
Red Knot 1
Killdeer 1
Pied-billed Grebe 2
Greater Shearwater 1
American Coot 1
American Black Duck x Mallard 1
Willet 1

TOTAL 713968

And now I sleep.

Sea Watch Monday December 21, 2009

If you're the kind of person who gets excited about counting really distant Canada Goose flocks (and c'mon, who isn't?) than man was Monday your day. For the rest of you it would have been a rather slow day, although the always exciting Herring Gulls were moving throughout. The highlight came at the crack of dawn with two Bald Eagles chasing each other around more than a mile out over the ocean. Long-tailed Ducks were the only other waterbird that moved in notable numbers, with over a hundred.

Well, the intern house is now down to one person left, and the Seawatch is down to one day left. The real drama today will be seeng if there's a Gannet flight that would make this the first season ever where more Gannets (all time high for a a season) were counted than Cormorants (all time low for a season), and seeing if we can break our Alcid shutout. Today should be interesting regardless...

Snow Goose 3
Brant 7
Canada Goose 1,264
American Black Duck 141
Mallard 39
Greater Scaup 3
Lesser Scaup 6
Common Eider 24
Surf Scoter 226
White-winged Scoter 59
Black Scoter 68
Dark-winged Scoter sp. 52
Unidentified Scoter 7
Long-tailed Duck 124
Common Goldeneye 3
Red-breasted Merganser 78
Red-throated Loon 137
Common Loon 24
Northern Gannet 74
Double-creasted Cormorant 14
Great Cormorant 3
Great Blue Heron 2
Bonaparte's Gull 24
Ring-billed Gull 439
Herring Gull 271
Great Black-backed Gull 24
Duck Sp. 14

Sea Watch, Sunday December 20, 2009

Well, today was my last official day of counting. It turned into a sunny, though a bit of a nippy day with the wind.

Nothing particularly amazing or rare popped up for my last day. I had a Great Egret and I had a large flight of Canada Geese. Other than that it was a day like any other at the Sea Watch, plus the snow.

Here is the list of birds seen today:

Snow Goose 142
Canada Goose 1072
Brant 182
American Black Duck 48
Mallard 31
Common Eider 2
Surf Scoter 105
White-winged Scoter 17
Black Scoter 111
Scoter Sp 304
Long-tailed Duck 45
Bufflehead 4
Common Goldeneye 2
Red-breasted Merganser 85
Red-throated Loon 121
Common Loon 10
Northern Gannet 231
Double-crested Cormorants 39
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 1
Bonaparte's Gull 19
Ring-billed Gull 90
Herring Gull 24
Great Black-backed Gull 2
American Oystercatcher 1

Sea Watch, Saturday December 19, 2009

Can the Sea Watch be said to be snowed out, if the counter makes it through only to find that there is no snow on the ground in Avalon (I saw green lawns!), and more of a mix of rain and salt spray coming at you at 30mph, than of snow?

I will say no (we'll just call it an early day), since technically there was 30 minutes of survey conducted in which...

30 Scoter sp
15 Ring-billed gulls
5 Red-breasted Mergansers

...went south. I say "went south" because I would say with the exception of the gulls, that the other birds were unwillingly blown south after fighting to make ground heading into the inlet, but giving up the struggle. Their were some birds that were able to fight their way back to the inlet, like a few Long-tails, a loon, or some tenacious Red-breasted Mergansers, but most (again except gulls) gave up.

It was blowing hard enough for the Long-tails to hover temporarily as they decided between which raging wave they wanted land on the water after and be next to the jetty. Today would have been a fun day to be an albatross with the wind, percipitation, and torrent of waves, and to ride it all with out much effort.

From what I hear on the radio, it is supposed to only get worse as the day goes. I am not sure how much snow we will get here, but I may not be able to safely make it to the Sea Watch tomorrow for my last official day, before the swing counter takes his last days up there. Tomorrow will probably be the first day in Sea Watch history that we get snowed out. What a year it has been to be the Sea Watch counter.

Sea Watch, Friday December 18, 2009

I'd like to start out by saying it is finally nice to see the change around in the marine mammals up at Sea Watch. At the beginning of the season I would usually see the local Bottle-nose Dolphin pod almost on a daily basis, but as the weather turned cooler the headed south. It has been several weeks since I last say them, but today, as winter is upon us I say my first Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina vitulina; east coast subspecies) of the season.

And with winter almost upon us and a winter storm heading our way, it is time to discuss today's one unusual, and rather intellectually challenged, bird. Late this evening I saw a lone Brown Pelican flying North. As Steve, the Sea Watch naturalist, would say "What! Are you serious? C'mon!" This individual is a bird of very little brain; and that is all I have to say on that.

Otherwise my day was rather nice, though it was colder to start out the day than the previous two days, it was not as windy. With the wind shifting from the NW to NE the day did not turn into another big Goose day, but rather it favored the Red-throated Loons (almost 2,000 today) and to a lesser extent Northern Gannets.

Speaking of Gannets, I failed to mention this yesterday, but we broke a Sea Watch record yesterday for the high count of Gannets in a season. Yesterday we topped the Gannet count with a total 117,328 Gannets counted for the season. With today's count we continue to set a new record with a total of now 118,521 for Gannets this year. With four more days of Sea Watch left, we may yet break 120,000 Gannets.

Also, of another number milestone for this season, we broke 700,000 birds counted for this season today. Thanks to yesterdays big push of birds, we made it to this marker before the end of the season; there had been doubt if we would make it to 700,000 or not, but I am glad we did.

Another note concerning today; I had to use "Gull sp" for a gull I saw off in the distance today. It looked to be of the white-winged variety, so Ivory Gull (did it come back?), Iceland, or Glaucous Gull popped to mind, but given the distance, heat waves, and the fact that I saw it only for a split second before it disappeared south I would be hard pressed to put a positive id on the bird. But for those of you doing the Christmas bird count in Cape May County, be on the look out for white gulls! (If we are lucky maybe the Pelican will turn around for Sunday's Christmas Count)

Here is the break down of today's count:

Canada Goose 73
Brant 73
American Black Duck 26
Mallard 32
Northern Pintail 1
Greater Scaup 1
Surf Scoter 679
White-winged Scoter 16
Black Scoter 819
Dark-winged Scoter 94
Scoter Sp 860
Long-tailed Duck 84
Bufflehead 6
Common Goldeneye 3
Hooded Merganser 1
Red-breasted Merganser 68
Red-throated Loon 1811
Common Loon 23
Northern Gannet 1193
Double-crested Cormorants 56
Great Cormorant 1
Bonaparte's Gull 1
Ring-billed Gull 88
Herring Gull 127
Great Black-backed Gull 36

Sea Watch, Thursday December 17, 2009

Today was a bit cooler and and also a stronger breeze than yesterday out of the NW, but the birds were still flying.

We actually had a rather large flight of over 14,000 birds today.

Here are the numberd from today:

Snow Geese 1550
Canada Goose 744
Brant 95
American Black Duck 39
Mallard 10
Northern Pintail 5
Green-winged Teal 1
Lesser Scaup 2
Scaup sp. 19
Surf Scoter 417
White-winged Scoter 13
Black Scoter 966
Dark-winged Scoter 168
Scoter Sp 702
Long-tailed Duck 106
Bufflehead 14
Common Goldeneye 6
Hooded Merganser 4
Red-breasted Merganser 47
Red-throated Loon 503
Common Loon 12
Horned Grebe 1
Northern Gannet 7846
Great Cormorant 4
Great Blue Heron 10
Bonaparte's Gull 2
Ring-billed Gull 574
Herring Gull 381
Great Black-backed Gull 24

Sea Watch, Wednesday December 16, 2009

Today was a beautiful sunny day at Avalon, with a breeze out of the WNW making for a slightly chilly day.

The WNW wind brought a good movement of geese, (Snow, Canada, and Brant), as well as a good movement of cormorants and scoter.

The only bird seen today of special note was a Killdeer that fly by south directly above me, so I got a good look at the double black bands on its neck.

Here is the list of birds seen today:

Snow Geese 288
Canada Goose 890
Brant 187
American Black Duck 30
Mallard 1
Green-winged Teal 8
Lesser Scaup 1
Scaup sp. 5
Common Eider 2
Surf Scoter 418
White-winged Scoter 3
Black Scoter 674
Long-tailed Duck 63
Bufflehead 2
Hooded Merganser 2
Red-breasted Merganser 32
Red-throated Loon 350
Common Loon 13
Northern Gannet 979
Great Blue Heron 1
Bonaparte's Gull 9
Ring-billed Gull 218
Herring Gull 274
Great Black-backed Gull 22
Killdeer 1

Sea Watch Tuesday December 15, 2007

Juvenile American Redstart that hung out all day in front of the Apartments on 1st Ave. between 7th and 8th Streets. (photo copyright Doug Gochfeld)

Today started off foggy at Avalon, and stayed Overcast all day, although the lack of precipitation and not very cold temperatures made for relatively pleasant watching conditions. There was a strong early push that seemed to be mostly the residual left over from yesterday (Red-throated Loons, Gannets, White-winged Scoters). Surf Scoters were moving in impressive numbers for the date, and some notables were a single drake Northern Pinail, a Wood Duck, and 4 Laughing Gulls.

The seabird of the day however was a Gull that got away (literally, into the fog); The looks at the bird were suggestive of a juvenile Sabine's Gull, but due to the combination of distance, fog, and darkness, juvenile Black-legged Kittiwake, a much more expected species at this date, could not be ruled out with certainty. There WAS, however, a bird at the seawatch that is probably even more unusual than either of those Gulls for this particular date: none other than a juvenile American Redstart. It was calling (chip note, not flight call) for most of the day from across the street from the parking lot, and seemingly in view for much of that time.

Also of note from off the data sheet were 8 Semipalmated Plovers foraging on the jetty, and 40(!!) Purple Sandpipers. The most exciting moment of the afternon came when an adult male Peregrine Falcon came in and tried unsuccesfully to decrease that Purple Sandpiper number by one. Peregrines performing aerial displays are always a fun sight. We're now into the last week of the Seawatch, so if you've been planning on heading up there all season and just haven't made it quite yet, you've got seven more days!

Location: Avalon Seawatch
Observation date: 12/15/09
Number of species: 41

Snow Goose 5
Wood Duck 1
American Black Duck 7
Mallard 5
Northern Pintail 1
Green-winged Teal 5
dabbling duck sp. 1
Greater Scaup 4
Lesser Scaup 6
Common Eider 8
Surf Scoter 1775
White-winged Scoter 35
Black Scoter 345
dark-winged scoter sp. 48
scoter sp. 39
Long-tailed Duck 42
Red-breasted Merganser 31
duck sp. 25
Red-throated Loon 1434
Common Loon 16
Northern Gannet 881
Double-crested Cormorant 8
Great Cormorant 1

Turkey Vulture 1
Peregrine Falcon 1
Black-bellied Plover 1
Semipalmated Plover 8
American Oystercatcher 8
Ruddy Turnstone 3
Sanderling 8
Purple Sandpiper 40
Dunlin 6
Bonaparte's Gull 35
Laughing Gull 4
Ring-billed Gull 55
Herring Gull 115
Great Black-backed Gull 42
gull sp. 1 (Either juvenile Sabine's Gull or juvenile BLKI)

Rock Pigeon X
Carolina Wren 1
Northern Mockingbird 1
European Starling X
American Redstart 1 Juvenile, hung around (usually conspicuously)
between 7th and 8th street all day
White-throated Sparrow 1
Boat-tailed Grackle 8
House Sparrow 7

Sea Watch Monday December 14, 2009

It was a beautiful day at Avalon today, and for once good weather was accompanied by a good flight. Species that were moving all day (to the musical sounds of the local Long-tailed Ducks for a good portion of it) included Red-throated Loons, Northern Gannets, American Black Ducks, Scoters, and Oldsquaws themselves. There was also a nice pickup of White-winged Scoters at the end of the day which included at least 3 double digit flocks. Horned Grebes continued their late straggle, and hopefully it's a sign that other late-season movers (i.e. Razorbills and White-winged Gulls) will be here shortly. On the "not-counted but still of interest" front the aggregation of Purple Sandpipers making the rounds of the area jetties has now reached 34 individuals. The only notable raptors were singles of Merlin and Peregrine Falcon.

Location: Avalon Seawatch
Observation date: 12/14/09
Number of species: 39

Brant 4
Canada Goose 27
American Wigeon 3
American Black Duck 225
Mallard 41
Green-winged Teal 5
dabbling duck sp. 4
Greater Scaup 1
Lesser Scaup 2
Aythya sp. 53
Common Eider 5
Surf Scoter 605
White-winged Scoter 66
Black Scoter 225
dark-winged scoter sp. 51
scoter sp. 143
Long-tailed Duck 73
Hooded Merganser 3
Red-breasted Merganser 20
duck sp. 98
Red-throated Loon 2599
Common Loon 15
Horned Grebe 4
Northern Gannet 1982
Double-crested Cormorant 89
Great Cormorant 2
Great Blue Heron 4

Turkey Vulture 4
Merlin 1
Peregrine Falcon 1
American Oystercatcher 1
Sanderling 8
Purple Sandpiper 34
Dunlin 6
Bonaparte's Gull 69
Ring-billed Gull 104
Herring Gull 1172
Great Black-backed Gull 59
gull sp. 4

Rock Pigeon X
European Starling X
Yellow-rumped Warbler 3
White-throated Sparrow 1
Boat-tailed Grackle 9
House Sparrow 8

Sea Watch, Sunday December 13, 2009

Despite the rain and bit of a head wind their were birds still moving, though not nearly as many as yesterday's count.

There was no huge movement of gulls before the rain came in, and they did not seem inclined to start moving in big numbers once the rain arrived. It also seems the rest of the birds were of a same mind.

To pass the time and to fight off weather induced negative attitudes; a one man caroling concert was given to baffeled Buffelheads, Loons, and Long-tailed Ducks. It obviously did not do anything for the birds, but I enjoyed myself. And to pass the time for when the bird movement really slowed, a new Sea Watch song was composed to the tune of " The 12 Days of Christmas;" its called "The 12 Hours of Sea Watch." I will spare you the lyrics for now.

Here's the list of birds seen today:

Canada Goose 70
Brant 1
American Black Duck 14
Mallard 4
Green-winged Teal 8
Greater Scaup 5
Lesser Scaup 13
Common Eider 10
Surf Scoter 305
White-winged Scoter 24
Black Scoter 346
Dark-winged Scoter 10
Long-tailed Duck 76
Bufflehead 18
Common Goldeneye 1
Hooded Merganser 1
Red-breasted Merganser 84
Red-throated Loon 242
Common Loon 13
Horned Grebe 4
Northern Gannet 260
Great Blue Heron 2
Bonaparte's Gull 3
Ring-billed Gull 244
Herring Gull 140
Great Black-backed Gull 24

Sea Watch, Saturday December 12, 2009

Well, today was a lot more agreeable than yesterday, with the winds staying calm through most of today.

There was a strong movement of gulls yesterday and today, and well I'll let the numbers speak for themselves. Today was the first day that we had Horned Grebes, Hooded Mergansers, and Common Goldeneye in any good numbers this season; now that we are almost through the new birds are finally arriving.

Today turned into a rather large day number wise for December, hitting the just over 10,000 birds. Besides the gulls, we had a good movement of Canada Geese, Gannets, and Red-throated Loons.

Here is the break down of today's count:

Snow Goose 179
Brant 125
Canada Goose 827
Tundra Swan 35
Wood Duck 1
American Black Duck 90
Mallard 13
Green-winged Teal 15
Greater Scaup 8
Lesser Scaup 17
Scaup sp. 30
Common Eider 14
Surf Scoter 67
White-winged Scoter 2
Black Scoter 127
Scoter sp. 161
Long-tailed Duck 256
Bufflehead 27
Common Goldeneye 31
Hooded Merganser 29
Red-breasted Merganser 51
Red-throated Loon 883
Common Loon 25
Horned Grebe 7
Northern Gannet 829
Double-crested Cormorant 193
Great Cormorant 1
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 1
Bonaparte's Gull 72
Ring-billed Gull 3,316
Herring Gull 2,079
Great Black-backed Gull 216

Sea Watch, Friday December 11, 2009

TODAY WAS COLD! But the birds were still flying.

I am defrosting; here is the break down:

Snow Geese 20
Canada Geese 90
Brant 5
American Wigeon 4
American Black Duck 100
Mallard 78
Green-winged Teal 8
Ring-necked Duck 1
Aythya 9
Canvasback 10
Greater Scaup 75
Lesser Scaup 195
Scaup Sp 42
Surf Scoter 60
Black Scoter 8
Scoter Sp 155
Long-tailed Duck 63
Buffelhead 51
Hooded Merganser 1
Red-breasted Merganser 17
Red-throated Loon 28
Common Loon 8
Northern Gannet 186
Bonaparte's Gull 61
Ring-billed Gull 2182
Herring Gull 1417
Great Black-backed Gull 250
Gulls sp 300
Dabbler sp 97

Sea Watch, Thursday December 10, 2009

Today was a rather blustery day with winds coming out of the West.

Today I had a good movement of Snow Geese, and I had some diversity of ducks moving as well, including Mallards, Black Ducks, Gadwall, Pintail, Green-winged Teal, and Greater and Lesser Scaup. The highlight birds of the day were a Parasitic Jaeger and Merlin.

Here is the break down of today's count:

Snow Geese 230
Canada Geese 14
Brant 14
Gadwall 9
American Black Duck 94
Northern Pintail 12
Green-winged Teal 12
Greater Scaup 13
Lesser Scaup 7
Common Eider 1
Surf Scoter 214
White-winged Scoter 7
Black Scoter 137
Long-tailed Duck 25
Red-breasted Merganser 19
Red-throated Loon 344
Common Loon 8
Northern Gannet 40
Great Blue Heron 2
Bonaparte's Gull 1
Laughing Gull 5
Ring-billed Gull 132
Herring Gull 74
Great Black-backed Gull 1
Parasitic Jaeger 1
American Oystercatcher 1

Sea Watch, Wednesday December 9, 2009

Today started off with with torrential down pours, but it did not get as windy as the weather men called for. The rain eventually cleared after the third hour, and the gradually the sun broke through.

It was not exactly a high count today, with only a little over a 3,000 birds, it still was not a bad day. Half of the birds seen today were Surf Scoter. The other highlights of the day were a male and female pair of Harlequin Ducks and over 700 Herring Gulls moving today.

Here is the break down of today's count:

American Black Duck 2
Green -winged Teal 13
Lesser Scaup 2
Common Eider 9
Surf Scoter 1573
White-winged Scoter 25
Black Scoter 383
Long-tailed Duck 11
Buffelhead 3
Red-breasted Merganser 77
Red-throated Loon 21
Common Loon 6
Northern Gannet 23
Bonaparte's Gull 25
Ring-billed Gull 54
Herring Gull 717
Great Black-backed Gull 39

Sea Watch Tuesday December 8, 2009

All photos copyright Doug Gochfeld 2009

Other than an early push of Northern Gannets, today was a relatively slow one, although not tremendously boring. The highlight of the afternon might have been two Northern Harriers having an aerial duel for a while over Sea Isle City. Despite the slow daily count, we did hit and pass 100,000 Northern Gannets for the season, which isn't too shabby. Also the Harlequin Duck and at least 10 Purple Sandpipers were still around today. In lieu of any unusual birds, enjoy the photos above from the last couple of days at Avalon.

Location: Avalon Seawatch
Observation date: 12/8/09
Number of species: 38

Brant 31
Canada Goose 17
American Black Duck 124
Mallard 5
Green-winged Teal 2
Greater Scaup 1

Common Eider 4 Northbound early
Harlequin Duck 1 Probably the same continuing adult male, seen only
early in the morning
Surf Scoter 227
White-winged Scoter 16
Black Scoter 324
dark-winged scoter sp. 234
scoter sp. 96
Long-tailed Duck 9
Bufflehead 6
Hooded Merganser 2
Red-breasted Merganser 14
duck sp. 4
Red-throated Loon 1833
Common Loon 9 (6 migrants)
Northern Gannet 3468
Double-crested Cormorant 197
Great Cormorant 3
Great Blue Heron 3

Turkey Vulture 14
Bald Eagle 2
Northern Harrier 2
Black-bellied Plover 27
Sanderling 20
Purple Sandpiper 10
Dunlin 650
Ring-billed Gull 101
Herring Gull 472
Great Black-backed Gull 43

Rock Pigeon X
Carolina Wren 2
American Robin 2
European Starling X
Boat-tailed Grackle 26
American Goldfinch X
House Sparrow X

Sea Watch Monday December 7, 2009

Not quite a day that will live in infamy, but it was an interesting flight at Avalon nonetheless, starting out with low numbers and decent diversity and changing over to high numbers but mostly of Gannets and Red-throated Loons. A flock of 17 White-winged Scoters was the most of them I've seen together so far this season. Singles of Parasitic Jaeger and Forster's Tern were nice birds for the date, and 3 Common Goldeneye included my first male of the season.

Location: Avalon Seawatch
Observation date: 12/7/09
Notes: WNW/W/WSW Winds
Number of species: 34

Brant 43
Canada Goose 6
Wood Duck 1
American Wigeon 5
American Black Duck 22
Mallard 29
Northern Shoveler 11
Green-winged Teal 118
Lesser Scaup 1
Aythya sp. 15
Common Eider 17 One male flying north
Surf Scoter 686
White-winged Scoter 26
Black Scoter 1162
dark-winged scoter sp. 623
Long-tailed Duck 41
Bufflehead 8
Common Goldeneye 3
Hooded Merganser 9
Red-breasted Merganser 27
duck sp. 23
Red-throated Loon 1995
Common Loon 15 (7 migrants, the rest sitting on the water)
Northern Gannet 8003
Double-crested Cormorant 195
Great Cormorant 1

Turkey Vulture 15
Peregrine Falcon 1
Semipalmated Plover 2+
Sanderling 30
Purple Sandpiper 10
Dunlin 600
Bonaparte's Gull 1
Ring-billed Gull 196
Herring Gull 358
Great Black-backed Gull 109
Forster's Tern 1
Parasitic Jaeger 1

Sea Watch, Sunday December 6, 2009

Today was the first day that the initial temperature at the beginning of the count was below 30 degrees; lets hope winter is here to stay so those dabbling ducks get a clue and migrate.

I had a good movement of Red-throated Loons today, and I also had an unexpected movement of several hundred cormorants. Two birds of note I had was a Harlequin Duck and a Lesser Black-backed Gull. But what made my day was hearing a Common Loon call, not from the water, but in flight behind me and having it fly directly over; I've never had heard a loon call in flight so it was one of those special moments of wonder.

Here is the break down of the day's count:

Canada Goose 24
Brant 59
American Black Duck 22
Green -winged Teal 24
Greater Scaup 1
Scaup Sp. 13
Common Eider 27
Surf Scoter 321
White-winged Scoter 7
Black Scoter 573
Long-tailed Duck 23
Buffelhead 7
Red-breasted Merganser 18
Red-throated Loon 2195
Common Loon 19
Northern Gannet 40
Double-crested Cormorant 403
Bonaparte's Gull 3
Ring-billed Gull 454
Herring Gull 221
Great Black-backed Gull 20

Sea Watch, Saturday December 5, 2009

To be honest, today was not as bad as I thought it was going to be because today's rain was rather on the light side and the wind was not blowing out of the North or NE. With the rain slanting in from the NW I was able to use the little construction trailer near where I usually conduct the count as a weather block; had it not been for the trailer I probably would be whistling a different tune.

The weather being what it was though did not make for a big migration day, with the days total under 1,500 birds. There was a good movement of Brant, Red-breasted Mergansers, and Long-tailed Duck today, in addition to the movement of a few hundred Scoter through the course of the day. Special birds of note today were a Great Cormorant and another Royal Tern (the same individual from yesterday?).

Here is today's break down of the count:

Brant 272
American Black Duck 8
Lesser Scaup 11
Common Eider 13
Surf Scoter 303
White-winged Scoter 10
Black Scoter 257
Long-tailed Duck 103
Buffelhead 3
Red-breasted Merganser 121
Red-throated Loon 119
Common Loon 9
Double-crested Cormorant 31
Great Cormorant 1
Bonaparte's Gull 2
Ring-billed Gull 15
Herring Gull 11
Great Black-backed Gull 1
Royal Tern 1

Sea Watch, Friday December 4, 2009

Today was a better migration day than yesterday was with a slight NW wind, and being a little cooler as well.

We had a good movement of Red-throated Loons through out the day, and they made up the majority of today's count. There was a late movement of Herring Gulls and Ring-billed Gulls in the evening. But the highlight birds of the day was a Royal Tern and a female Common Goldeneye.

Here is a list of birds seen today:

Wood Duck 1
American Black Duck 40
Common Eider 32
Surf Scoter 266
White-winged Scoter 7
Black Scoter 144
Long-tailed Duck 48
Buffelhead 21
Common Goldeneye 1
Red-breasted Merganser 12
Red-throated Loon 2400
Common Loon 40
Northern Gannet 17
Double-crested Cormorant 178
Great Cormorant 5
Laughing Gull 3
Ring-billed Gull 398
Herring Gull 601
Great Black-backed Gull 78
Royal Tern 1

Sea Watch, Thursday December 3, 2009

It is official, there are now only two Cape May bird counters left to finish out the season; our beloved part-time Hawk counter left us today. Take care, Melissa!

Today was a pleasant surprise considering the amount of rain that was forcasted to dump today, that is until last minute. It turned out to be a rather warm day when the sun was out, but it was a strong SW winds throughout the day.

The day started out with a few hundred birds each hour, but by the end of the fourth hour, migration dropped off and for the next 5.5 hours no hour had more than a hundred birds counted. So, today was a slow day.

Part of the time was passed counting Monarch butterflies, of which there were three.

The Sea Watch also had two immature Bald Eagles, and a Cooper's Hawk that flushed up a few hundred gulls from the inlet.

There were no birds of particular note, except perhaps a flock Pintail.

Here is a list of birds seen today.

Canada Goose 3
American Black Duck 5
Northern Pintail 9
Greater Scaup 1
Scaup sp. 6
Surf Scoter 140
White-winged Scoter 2
Black Scoter 127
Long-tailed Duck 5
Buffelhead 6
Hooded Merganser 3
Red-breasted Merganser 16
Red-throated Loon 420
Common Loon 18
Northern Gannet 761
Double-crested Cormorant 21
Great Cormorant 1
Laughing Gull 1
Ring-billed Gull 34
Herring Gull 23
Great Black-backed Gull 58

Sea Watch, Wednesday December 2, 2009

We are in the final weeks of the Sea Watch and we are looking forward to any alcids that might show up. Unfortunately, today was not an alcid day, but we did have a few things of note.

A Harlequin Duck landed by the jetty again today; we had a late showing of Pintail; we had a late Parasitic Jaeger and late flocks of Cormorants; we more than doubled our total Shoveler count for the year in one flock of 15; and we set a new season record for White-winged Scoter in one day of 91.

Here is the lost of birds seen today:

Brant 2
American Black Duck 1
Northern Shoveler 15
Northern Pintail 2
Green-winged Teal 61
Greater Scaup 6
Lesser Scaup 43
Common Eider 20
Surf Scoter 537
White-winged Scoter 91
Black Scoter 594
Long-tailed Duck 20
Buffelhead 42
Red-breasted Merganser 43
Red-throated Loon 2557
Common Loon 16
Horned Grebe 3
Northern Gannet 840
Double-crested Cormorant 42
Laughing Gull 24
Ring-billed Gull 246
Herring Gull 143
Great Black-backed Gull 55
Parasitic Jaeger 1

Sea Watch Tuesday December 1, 2009

The Seawatch was jumpin' this morning, and it kept on doing so until well after the sun had set. The bulk of the flight were Red-throated Loons and Gulls (Ring-billed and Herring), but diversity was excellent as well, with 35 species of migrant waterbird tallied. Purple Sandpipers continue on the jetty, and there was a noticeable movement of Turkey Vultures over Sea Isle City today as well. It was certainly an auspicious start to December.

Location: Avalon Seawatch
Observation date: 12/1/09
Notes: Clear, Sunny, West winds.
Number of species: 56

Brant 57
Canada Goose 27
Wood Duck 8
Gadwall 8
American Wigeon 6
American Black Duck 162
Mallard 14
Northern Shoveler 7
Green-winged Teal 57
Ring-necked Duck 12
Greater Scaup 7
Lesser Scaup 9
Aythya sp. 7
Common Eider 12
Harlequin Duck 2 (One was with 4 Green-winged Teal, the other was with a
small mixed flock of Black and Surf Scoters.)
Surf Scoter 343
White-winged Scoter 3
Black Scoter 1918
dark-winged scoter sp. 538
Long-tailed Duck 55
Bufflehead 10
Hooded Merganser 10
Red-breasted Merganser 25
duck sp. 9
Red-throated Loon 7975
Common Loon 6
loon sp. 1 (Pacific/juvenile Red-throated. Just after official sunset)
Northern Gannet 1265
Double-crested Cormorant 80
Great Cormorant 3

Great Egret 8
Turkey Vulture 31
Bald Eagle 1 (juvenile)
American Kestrel 3
Peregrine Falcon 2
Semipalmated Plover 2
American Oystercatcher 6 (3 migrants)
Ruddy Turnstone 8
Sanderling 600
Purple Sandpiper 8
Dunlin 300
Bonaparte's Gull 5
Laughing Gull 28
Ring-billed Gull 2751
Herring Gull 1832
Great Black-backed Gull 100
Forster's Tern 10
Royal Tern 1 (Juvenile)
Parasitic Jaeger 1 (Southbound juvenile)

Carolina Wren 2
American Robin 3
European Starling 200
Yellow-rumped Warbler 3
White-throated Sparrow 1
Red-winged Blackbird 20
Common Grackle 1
Boat-tailed Grackle 15
House Finch 2
American Goldfinch 1
House Sparrow 10