The nerds are busy. We are in the midst of closing on the Villas houses, plus gearing up for our second trip to the World Series of Birding which will be held on May 14th this year. We have entered in Cape May county only in order to reduce drive time and increase our chances of getting to hotspots multiple times throughout the day. I have been organizing the spreadsheet this week and using the Internet to track sightings of non-migrant species in order to pinpoint some locations.
Next week, the scouting begins in person. We will be driving around the county to get a feel for the amount of time it takes to get from site to site as well as whether reliable birds can be found. One thing we learned from last year is that we need to pay close attention to the tides in order to get shorebirds, gulls, and terns at the sites that we should expect them.
We hope to raise $500 or more for NJ Audubon with the help of your pledges. Here's how it works: you pledge a certain amount per bird (say 50 cents) and then we try to get as many birds as possible in order to increase the amount of your donation while trying to beat the 5th graders from last year. We will report back to you on Sunday to let you know how much you owe. Here is a link to the PLEDGE FORM. Please fill it out and send to me (linda at npowerpa.org - replace the "at" with @) We already have a few pledges, so thanks!
See a theme in the posts? Well we may not be religious here at the PBN blog, but it has been a Good Friday for me so far. I had 2 more FOS birds this morning that I had to enter as "rare" in my eBird report.
The first was that little ray of sunshine himself - Mr. Yellow Warbler! Gorgeous bright yellow bird flitting around a tree at the top of Lemon Hill. He stayed around so long that I left him, went to find Barbara and Sammy, came back and still watched him for another 5 minutes.
The second great find of the morning was on the other side of the mansion on Lemon Hill - which isn't a prairie at all but had a Prairie Warbler. Again, this bird was a decked out male in full breeding plumage. He was hanging around with 2 Palm Warblers and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Unfortunately, he didn't grace us with his wonderful song but we did get great views.
Not bad for walking the dogs. The weird thing to notice isn't what is coming, but what isn't going. Juncos are still on Lemon Hill and still at my feeders. When will they leave? Shouldn't they get the hint when they see all of these strangers showing up that they better get a move on up north? Hmmm.
After the wild weather that we had last night, the sun came out this morning and off we went. Roxy and I headed out to Pennypack Trust - one of our local patches - to see what the wind blew in last night. We ended up with 41 species including so many Palm Warblers that we stopped counting. I entered 40 into eBird. Our FOS Brown Thrasher and Northern Parula too.
This morning was a perfect outing to get us excited about our second World Series of Birding effort that is coming up on May 14th. That's right, the Bird Nerds are entering the WSB again. We are not going to let those 5th graders beat us again this year! We promise. Although it's a statewide contest, we have decided to enter as a LGA - Limited Geographic Area - and only bird Cape May County. We think we can get a lot of birds in the county and it will cut down on the driving time as well as keep us close to our new house(s) so we can pop in for food and bathroom if needed.
In fact, we are so confident that we can identify more birds this year, that we are even using the event to fundraise for Cape May Bird Observatory. We hope that you will pledge a few cents per species that we identify on May 14th. Our goal is set at 130 species this year. You could also pledge a few dollars for our overall effort by pledging a fixed amount for the effort regardless of how many species we see. Here is a link to the pledge form. Please print it out, fill it in, and email to me (linda at npowerpa.org - replace the at with @). Pledge Form In fact, get friends, family, coworkers to pledge too.
We will be updating you on our scouting and plans in the coming weeks.
Woohoo. We made the FatBirder top 1000 this week thanks to all of you reading the blog. It's not that we get anything for it, but I like to think that all of this typing is being read by someone, so thanks for reading. Otherwise, I could just call my mother on the phone :-)
On to the birding story for this week. The big news is no secret - birds are on the move northward. We had our FOS (that's birdnerd for First Of Season) of the following:
And there are more on the way everyday. Lori and Tara are headed down to Florida and should get plenty of migrants there. Then they will be heading our way.
We went to the shore last Sunday to check out the house(s) and do some birding. The weather was a bummer and not conducive to good photos, but we got a good list anyway with around 50 species. Tons of Common and Red-throated Loons and Gannets around the point and concrete ship, which are always a joy.
We also had a few good sparrows including a life bird for Di and Barbara - White-crowned sparrow. Here are some photos including a mystery sparrow that we still cannot identify. Please post a comment (below) with your thoughts.
Mystery Sparrow - photo #1
Mystery Sparrow - photo #2
Forster's Tern - passing a fish to his love interest
If you go to Stone Harbor Point any time over the next few months, you'll notice my handy work. Well, mine and about 15 other volunteers, that is. I helped the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ to put up fencing and signs to protect bird nesting habitat on Stone Harbor Point. We basically strung line between PVC posts and put up these signs (not a great photo):
The "fence" is supposed to keep people away from Piping Plover, Oystercatcher, and Least Tern nests along the point. The volunteer project started at 10 AM but I was there early so I took the opportunity to take some photographs of Ruddy Turnstones, tons of Dunlin and Sanderlings along the water and resting on this jetty:
Here is a pair of Oystercatchers that didn't seem very skittish. One of the volunteers was a nice young girl that was doing a school project. The Oystercatcher was one of the birds that she was hoping to see. Well she got to see a few.
Click to enlarge this next photo. The similarity between this birds legs and Connie's is striking! Good thing we'll be at the beach alot this summer so she can get a tan.
I spent about 20 minutes crouching next to the jetty waiting for the sun to come out from behind some clouds when I heard a crash behind me. I turned around to see this Herring Gull dropping a conch shell onto the rocks from about 8 feet in the air, then grabbing it to drop it again. Seagull fun, I guess.
The gull with his prize
Picking up the shell
Shell is still in the air
The other interesting note from the day is that an injured harbor seal was rescued from the point by the Marine Mammal Stranding group. The seal's progress can be checked Here. He (or she) is #75.