Monday, 22 September 2014

Amazing migration

NW winds mean migration. Birds migrating south are pushed towards the coast and are then funneled south until they hit the Delaware Bay. This means that they stop at Cape May providing some great migration.

Today started at Higbees Wood. A series of tree fringed meadows hold migrant warblers overnight before they continue south. The sight and sound of birds leaving the trees and heading off was both spectacular and frustrating as they all sounded the same and impossible to ID!

Although many of the local birders said it was quiet it was pretty good to me. Good numbers of warblers were being seen although they were pretty hard to see in the thick woodland although we did catch up with black throated blue, black & white, magnolia, wilsons warblers along with summer tanager, parula and 6 American redstarts.

A quick look around the Meadows found 8 stilt sands, 11 lesser yellowlegs and 3 killdeer but it was evident that there was a big raptor movement especially kestrels so we headed for the Hawk Watch.

We had missed quite a lot of birds in the morning but there were still loads of raptors moving. Most obvious were the American kestrels, many of which showed incredibly well passing low over the watchpoint. Good numbers of merlins were seen too. They were very dark compared to the ones at home and were often seen catching dragonflies over the pools just like a hobby! In 2hrs we logged 99 American kestrel, 8 merlin, 14 sharp shinned hawk, 10 osprey, 2 peregrine, 9 bald eagle, 2 northern harrier, 2 red tailed hawk, 2 coopers hawk and a broad winged hawk. We found out later that the CMBO counters logged over 500 kestrels during the day!!

The final stop of the day was the tree lined streets around the CMBO centre. Feeders and drip pools attract in birds really close with the main attraction being the warblers. We had black & white and parulas drinking and bathing to a few feet!
Warblers added to the trip list included Cape May, chestnut sided, blackpoll and black thoated green. I think we will be going back there again :-)

Pics 1-3 Higbees Wood
Pics 4-5 Cape May Meadows
Pic 6 mixed flock of lesser yellowlegs and stilt sandpipers
Pic 7 CMBO centre

Sunday, 21 September 2014


Probably went to bed too early last night as we were up well too early being still on UK time.

The plan of the day was to visit several of the main birding sites to get the lay of the land.

A pre-breakfast seawatch and mooch around the local area got us back into the swing of US birding.  Loads of black skimmers, laughing gulls and royal terns were roosting on the beach. The scrubby dunes produced the 1st warblers, a fine yellow and a palm and some pools behind help a small group of least and semi palmated sandpipers.
I managed resist a massive yank brekkie before heading off to the Hawk Watch platform.

I was quite surprised at how many people were there with bins. There were clearly a few birders twitching the whiskered tern but most didn't really have a clue. The pools infront of the platform held blue winged teal, lesser yellowlegs, great egret and pied billed grebe. Raptors were pretty slow with the weather not ideal but we did manage Coopers, sharp shinned and red tailed hawks,  bald eagle, American kestrel, black vulture, peregrine, merlin and tons of osprey. The trails were pretty quiet but we did manage 6 red eyed vireo, belted kingfisher and a female black duck.

Higbee Beach wasn't what I was expecting.  I didn't expect it to be so wooded and finding anything would be a challenge.  It was very quiet and a struggle to find anything but we did manage 2 northern waterthrush, yellow eyed vireo, ovenbird and a corking black and white warbler.

The raptor watchers are predicting some decent winds for the next couple of days so fingers crossed. ..

The Eele has landed

Well we have finally made it to Cape May.
Nice smooth flight with US Airways went well but as usual I couldn't sleep. Landed pretty much on time but immigration was the usual pain in the arse taking pretty much 2hrs to get through. Many of the other people who were queuing were meant to be getting connecting flights, most of them missed them!

Getting the car was pretty easy too, a nice flash VW but as usual the scary 1st few miles are the scariest as you remember which side you need to drive on and what the hell everyone else is doing!! We thought we had missed our road but it was a false alarm. We even managed to get the 1st birds on the list. Feral pigeon, Canada goose and night heron.

Cruise control and the Interstate fit together perfectly and within 2hrs were in our apartment in Cape May.

Sadly we arrived after dark but sitting out on the balcony I can hear the sea only 50m away!!

Hope to keep my blog going daily but its early to bed. There is birding to do in the morning and I'm knackered!

Friday, 19 September 2014


It seems to have been one of those weeks.
Stories and online messages of bird-filled bushes along the coast had me full of optimism at the start of the week that I was going to find something decent.

NE winds and foggy conditions seemed to be perfect but despite being out every morning before work it didn't seem that it was going to happen. Gypsy Lane, Brancaster and Titchwell were all tried with very little reward. It did seem rather strange that Gun Hill had a stack of birds but just a few miles to the west, nothing. I do believe some of is down to the lack of coverage in these other areas. Birding is dead, long live pager chasing!

Anyway, I digress.

Today was my last day and chance to find anything before my hols and as luck would have it, I had to go out on the reserve to 'check something' this afternoon. A walk along the east trail hedge produced a lesser whitethroat and then I flushed a tree pipit out of the grass strip by the hedge. Not bad :-)

I decided to check the scrub on the tank road as it is often good for warblers.
As soon as I started pishing a bloody barred warbler flew up into a tree right in the open before diving into some elders. I tried to call Dave who was still birding somewhere close but he didn't answer. I saw the bird again briefly but not again after that.
About 10 mins later Dave called to say that he had seen a probable barred warbler on the carpark but couldn't relocate it.

We searched for my barred but it wasn't to be found. There were a few song thrushes dropping in, a single redwing and probably 2 garden warblers too.

It was very pleasing that the effort paid off even if I was skiving a bit!!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Just a few pics

Been trying to get out and about a bit more recently and take a few snaps.
Bit of a cheap blog post but I thought I would pop on a few recent piccies :-)

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Lovely Evening

Even before the report of a white rumped sandpiper on the fresh marsh (heard reports ot was a juv sanderling!), I had decided to go into the reserve for the evening. A really good choice as the weather was beautiful.

A sit on the main path for a bit gave fantastic views of a juv little stint feeding within 10m of the path with a little group of ruff. Stunning little birds although it was a bit too mobile to get some decent photos.

Most of the ruff were feeding behind the islands so I went to Parrinder Hide do a count. 95 is a good count for this time of year

I didn't count everything but had :-

3 juv little stint
5 golden plover
Juv sanderling
140 avocet
13 spotshank
32 dunlin
2 water rail
268 teal
2 greenshank
5 juv curlew sand
113 LBB gull
3 knot
2 Chinese water deer

Thursday, 28 August 2014

A good day

Wasn't expecting the rain whe I went in early this morning but it did seem to drop in a few birds. The carpark area has been alive with blackcaps recently and there were 20-30 there this morning. Later on, 4 whinchats appeared in the field beyond the gates.

Chris and I were working in the beach area but jammed in on a pied fly with a feeding flock at the start on the main path. Plenty of swallows still moving and 11 eider on the sea was all we had for the rest of the morning.

Just as we were heading back, Dave radioed to say a great white egret had been seen on the reedbed pool. Were were close by but the bird wasn't showing. We dropped our tools off at the office and headed into the reedbed for a closer look. The access was very wet (after the rain) and there were lots of nettles and brambles but we did confirm the bird was still there.
It was fairly mobile during the rest of the day and showed really well this evening.

Waders seemed to be on the move again with 5 green sands, 3 juv curlew sands, juv little stint and 78+ ruff this evening.

Surprise sighting of the day was of 4 red deer (1 calf) in the back roads near Docking!