Morning Flight - 1 September 2012 & Meet The Team!

The first day of September brought a nice passage of Cedar Waxwings and Bobolinks (best Bobolink flight so far this fall), but few warblers, despite ten species represented.  Notable for its absence, not a single Black-and-white Warbler was seen; Yellow Warblers (4) were also few-and-far-between, with as many Tennessee Warblers (4) today.  Considering the relatively poor flight conditions for small songbirds, a surprising number of Red-breasted Nuthatches (53) flew out this morning, all heading north.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 11
Eastern Kingbird - 19
Philadelphia Vireo - 1
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 53
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - 3
American Robin - 2
Cedar Waxwing - 508
Tennessee Warbler - 4
Northern Parula - 1
Yellow Warbler - 4
Cape May Warbler - 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 1
Blackburnian Warbler - 1
Blackpoll Warbler - 2
American Redstart - 21
Northern Waterthrush - 21
warbler sp. - 9
Bobolink - 727

Total = 1389

Other highlights included at least 11 Brown Pelicans and the Morning Flight's first Tricolored Heron of the season.

The graph below compares Red-breasted Nuthatch numbers from the Morning Flight during the past ten years (2003 - 2012), noting that the 2012 count is only 20% complete.  These data suggest that Red-breasted Nuthatch flights typically occur every 2-3 years (although back-to-back in 2004 and 2005), with some interim years nearly devoid of irrupting birds.  For instance, two years (2006, 2011) only had single-digit season counts (9 and 1, respectively).  This year's movement of Red-breasted Nuthatches (476) is already the 4th-highest total ever, and it's just September 1st.

Meet the Team! 

This season's stellar team of Counters and Interpretive Naturalists are just getting started, so here's a quick introduction to the faces you can expect to see this season - please come and say hello to them all!

Alyssia Church
Alyssia is the George Myers Interpretive Naturalist this fall. She holds both a BS and MS degree in Geography from The Pennsylvania State University with a focus on Geographical Information Systems and Wildlife Conservation.  She first came to Cape May in the Fall of 2010 as one of the Hawkwatch Interpretive Naturalists for CMBO and last fall she worked as the Field Research Assistant for the Cape May Raptor Banding Project. She has worked in Maine, New Jersey, and central Pennsylvania conducting wildlife research with a strong focus on birds. Alyssia has been birding ever since she could pick up a bird guide and is very passionate about educating others about the natural world around them and the importance of conservation.  When she is not out and about enjoying the great outdoors you can find Alyssia competing at amateur ballroom and latin dance competitions.

Julia Druce
Hello, I am the 2012 field technician with the Monarch Monitoring Project. For the past 3 years I've been working with various species of butterflies, ranging from from sulphurs to checkerspots, with a variety of scientists and research projects, covering molecular evolution to physiological ecology. I'm very excited to have the chance to learn about the ecology of the monarch, which is such an iconic and unique species! I find butterflies so fascinating because of the stunning amount of variation between species as well as within species. This makes butterflies a great system for answering diverse questions about how the natural world works. I'm planning on beginning graduate school soon. Ultimately I would like to work as an entomologist at a museum. Other subjects that I am excited about include moths (especially tiger moths and hawk moths), the Arctic (which has its fair share of butterflies), and working sheepdogs.

Elizabeth (Libby) Errickson
Libby is a May 2012 graduate from Delaware Valley College with a degree in Wildlife Conservation & Management. Although hailing from York, Pennsylvania, Libby is no stranger to South Jersey as she has been living in Atlantic City the past two summers. She first came to Cape May on an Ornithology class field trip two years ago, and is thrilled to now be working here as an Interpretive Naturalist for the Hawkwatch platform. Libby fell in love with birds the moment she saw a Resplendent Quetzal for the first time in Costa Rica at age 16, and her greatest dream is to one day be able to work in Quetzal research and conservation. She plans on attending graduate school sometime in the near future to get her Master's in Tropical Ecology. When she's not in Cape May devoting her life to birds, Libby's favorite hobbies include kayaking, fishing, Scuba diving, and riding her horse, Sam. Libby's favorite bird that she sees from the Hawkwatch on a regular basis is the Pied-billed Grebe.

Erin Lehnert
Erin came to CMBO after working for the National Park Service at Isle Royale National Park as a herpetologist for three seasons, where assisting with Common Loon banding projects got her hooked on birds. In addition to her enthusiasm for all things feathered, Erin enjoys playing the piano and cello, arts and crafts, backpacking, and reading. A native "Yooper" of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, winter is Erin's favorite season with all the opportunities for sledding and building snow statues, in addition to broomball and hockey. Erin is a recent graduate from Michigan Technological University in Michigan's Upper Peninsula with a bachelor's degree in Biology with an Ecology concentration, and in the future she hopes to continue her education with a master's degree in avian behavioral ecology.

Tom Reed
Tom is the Primary Hawkwatch Counter for the 2012 season. He volunteers as one of MBO’s Associate Naturalists, is a member of CMBO’s World Series of Birding team, and contributes to Tom has conducted extensive fieldwork throughout southern New Jersey on behalf of various organizations and government agencies, and was the 2011 Avalon Seawatch counter. He also holds the New Jersey "big year" record and is the founder of the Mizpah Christmas Bird Count. Tom is a 2011 graduate of Rutgers University and holds a B.S. in Environmental Policy.

Cameron Rutt 
At the age of nine, Cameron Rutt began birding, what his parents thought would be nothing more than a passing interest. But whatever trains and dinosaurs lacked, birds possessed. He has been captivated by birds ever since and this once-hobby has now blossomed into a full-blown vocation. Cameron is an inveterate field biologist, working seasonally wherever the birds provide compensation. He has now worked eleven different field jobs since 2005, across seven states and three countries. This includes nearly a year in Borneo (Malaysia), nest-searching for passerines and near-passerines in a montane rainforest; a summer in Barbados to sample songbirds for avian malaria; a stint of shorebird banding on Alaska’s North Slope; and six months on Laysan (Northwestern Hawaiian Islands), where he assisted with the translocation of Millerbirds. But after counting raptors at Hawk Ridge, Minnesota, he's decided that if he must count birds, they better be songbirds, and counting warblers is better still. Cameron completed his undergraduate degree in Biology in 2008 and (eventually) plans on returning to school for higher education. When not birding, he still enjoys traveling, as well as writing, volleyball, and ultimate frisbee.