Morning Flight – 29 August 2014

A look at NEXRAD radar last night revealed heavy bird migration occurring over portions of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, including here at Cape May. Light northwest winds gradually shifted to the north as the night progressed, and these conditions remained constant through the start of this morning's count.

A strong first hour was dominated by American Redstarts, with nearly 400 passing through before 7:30am-- though these would soon take a backseat to the steady parade of Baltimore Orioles that came bouncing up the dirt road in front of the dike. It was a good morning for both species, and the day's total of 130 Baltimore Orioles could go down as the season high. A lovely Summer Tanager and a delightful duo of Scarlet Tanagers added a couple more splashes of color, and a Red-breasted Nuthatch was a nice treat (and the first I've seen this fall). We enjoyed a few of the less-common, regular warblers such as Canada, Ovenbird, Cape May, and Tennessee, but the star of the show was a Black-throated Gray Warbler that shot past at 7:15am! This individual represents the 10th or so recorded in Cape May County, three of which have flown past the dike.

Other interesting birds included a White-rumped Sandpiper, 5 Common Nighthawks, 5 Northern Harriers, a Broad-winged Hawk, and 2 Willets.

Summer looks to stage a late-season comeback over the holiday weekend, so it might well be that songbird flights are again on the light side for the next few days. However, any day is a good day to visit at this point in the season. Diversity is on the rise, and you just never know when a big surprise might magically appear...

       Weather and effort: mostly sunny; 59–72 ºF; winds N->NE at 10 mph; 10->30% cloud cover; very good visibility; 0627 sunrise; 4.25 hours. Observer: Tom Reed.
       Morning Flight Count totals
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)  14
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens)  2
Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)  346
Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus)  7
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)  1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea)  54
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  16
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  314
Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) 2
Northern Waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis)  52
Blue-winged Warbler (Vermivora cyanoptera)  1
Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia)  38
Tennessee Warbler (Oreothlypis peregrina)  3
American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)  561
Cape May Warbler (Setophaga tigrina)  8
Northern Parula (Setophaga americana)  2
Magnolia Warbler (Setophaga magnolia)  3
Blackburnian Warbler (Setophaga fusca)  3
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  52
Chestnut-sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica)  11
Black-throated Blue Warbler (Setophaga caerulescens)  15   
Prairie Warbler (Setophaga discolor)  1
Black-throated Gray Warbler (Setophaga nigrescens)  1
Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis)  2
warbler sp. (Parulinae sp.)  77 
Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra)  1
Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea)  2
Blue Grosbeak (Passerina caerulea)  3
Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)  6
Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus)  106
Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)  130
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) 39
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  10

-Tom Reed

[Black-throated Gray Warbler: the warbler that thinks it's a chickadee. This is a very exciting bird to see in Cape May (or anywhere in the East), and this is also the first time one has been seen here in August. Most previous records of the species are from September and October. Photo by Tom Reed.]

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