Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Saturday/Sunday lifer-rama at Cape May

A flock of double-crested cormorants flies over the Nature Conservancy's refuge area, which used to be known as "the meadows."

Despite the rainy conditions on Friday and most of Saturday, I made my goal of 20 lifers (plus another 11!) at Cape May. At one point on Sunday morning at Higbee Beach, we stood in front of two or three trees for like half an hour with bird after bird landing there and sharp-shinned hawks flying overhead. I was kinda hoping to see a kill, but we were spared any carnage. We finally had to surrounder our sweet spot to the next group of birders, or we might still be there today.

My lifers list:
American Wigeon
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Pintail
Northern Shoveler
Ruddy Duck
Snowy Egret
Pectoral Sandpiper
Black Skimmer
Surf Scoter
Bonaparte's Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Laughing Gull
Royal Tern
Forster's Tern
Northern Harrier
Peregrine Falcon
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Yellow-rumped Warbler (finally!)
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blue Grosbeak
Blue-headed Vireo
Clay-colored Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Common Yellowthroat (finally!)
Purple Finch (finally!)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
In total, I saw over 75 species during the weekend, which isn’t bad considering the amount of rain we had. UPDATE! Thanks to Patrick, I've adjusted my count to 31 lifers with that pectoral sandpiper (photo below). Now my lifelist count is now officially at 152, since I got serious about birding in 2006 and started keeping a lifelist.

It seems like it’s been a lot longer than that, but maybe that's because I’ve been looking at birds since I was a kid. I would never have guessed I'd come so far so fast (or it seems far and fast to me, anyway).

I ate some great food, made some good friends, got a copy of Kingbird Highway (which Taryn at Houghton Mifflin was kind enough to give me), and learned a ton about raptor ID, not to mention birding fieldcraft. I also met Pete Dunne, got some neat t-shirts for Kat and Em and me, and got a nice new comfy strap for my binocs.

I’ll be thinking back to this trip for a long time, always with a certain wistfulness right along with the joy. I miss Cape May, and I miss the birds.

Here are a few shots I got on Saturday:

a mated pair of American wigeons; I love their little call:
Sanderlings on the beach:

Pectoral sandpipers (thanks, Patrick!):

My best shot yet of a great blue heron:

Birdchick gives a presentation on blogging:

There were many people there who were geniunely curious and then excited about the prospect of getting on the Web. Directly to Birdchick's right is Mike of 10,000 Birds. What a great guy; he's the one who really started the whole bird-blogging scene. I handed out my card to several people during the festival; if you're one of them, visiting my blog for the first time, hello!

Sunday was another eventful day; I had a lot of trouble, however, with my batteries. Still, I'll try to post some Sunday photos later.


Patrick Belardo said...

Hey Delia,

Nice photo of a Pectoral Sandpiper. The general shape and that distinct margin between the streaky throat and upper breast and the white underparts is a good field mark. Plus, I saw some there at the State Park so I know they were around. :) I hope it's a lifer! The one behind it is probably another Pectoral. I'm glad you had fun in CM. I love it down there and it was fun meeting you and birding together.

dguzman said...

WHOOT! Make that 31 lifers, folks! Thanks, Patrick! We (the two Susans and Laura and I) stood there for at least ten minutes with the Stokes guide trying to figure out what kind of sandpiper it was. We finally gave up. Thanks for the ID! I'll fix the caption!

Carolyn H said...

Pectoral sandpiper is your mystery bird. They have a very defined "bib" that's pretty diagnostic. Congratulations!

Carolyn H.

FranIAm said...

That is so great Delia. These photos are wonderful.

I love egrets and herrons. I don't know that much about birds, but I do know I love to see them and identify the few that I can.

You are my bird coach and I love it!

It makes me happy to know you found this great group of bird bloggers- that is wonderful.

Blogging makes for great community and support all around!

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Great shot of tha blue heron. What a beautiful bird.

dguzman said...

Thanks, Carolyn! I need to check out your blog.

Fran, happy to help! You've got plenty of birds to see in NYC including Pale Male, the red-tailed hawk near Central Park.

Thanks, Dr. Monkey. I love 'em too!

FranIAm said...

Oh I live in suburbia and have a big yard with a lot of birds, wild turkeys included!

And I am in the process of moving further upstate to Albany NY, so some new birds maybe?!

Mary C said...

That's an impressive life list, Delia! Love your photos, too. Since I don't think I've ever seen a pectoral sandpiper - yet - I'd say that was a great photo. Taken with your new point and shoot? ;o)

dguzman said...

Fran, whether you'll get new birds depends on whether the habitat changes significantly. If there are woods nearby at your new place but not at the old place, for instance, you'll get some more woodland species (i.e. warblers). Plus even the kinds of trees you'll have will draw different kinds of birds. So I would say you'll probably see some different birds just by virtue of moving out of suburbia, but only because I'm guessing you'll be in a less urban area.

Mary C--yup, all the photos were taken with the new Kodak Z711. It held up really well, though I'll feel better once the batteries start behaving.