Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cape May - Sea Bird Watch

The Cape May Bird Observatory counts many different kinds of birds during the fall migration. Up at Avalon along the seawall, they have a sea bird count. They have a presentation at 2:00 where they show you how they identify these birds from such a great distance.  

This is Atlantic City in the background. This image was taken with my 300-800mm at 800 mm.  That bird in the center is a northern gannet.   I've left this as shot so you can see what the bird counters are seeing.  Yes, they identify these birds when they are just specs.  It is amazing!

I've cropped down so you can see it better.  To identify northern gannets here you look for large white birds with these black tips on their wings.  The body shape is much more elongated and sharp both the body and the wings than a white pelican would be.  The smaller dots are greater black-winged gulls (which are the largest gull), so you can get an idea of how large these gannets are.

 Double crested cormorants fly by in large flocks.  They are identified by the patterns the flocks make. While they sometimes do get into a V shape, they never maintain it.  They are always rearranging the pattern and snaking out.

Here is a closer look as they flew overhead - note the elongated head and still a different pattern in the sky.

I did crop this one down so you could see the three birds in the distance - they were surf scoters. You really need a scope to make the id between white winged scoters, black scoters and surf scoters.  The sea bird counter has a high powered scope to see more detail on the wings and face to make a good id for the count.  They have a different counter for each bird that they click as they see them.

This young gull was hanging out,  not bothered by the birders nearby. 

I spent about an hour two different days at the Sea Bird Watch and saw:

Double crested cormorant
Black duck
Black bellied plover
Ring bill gull
Great black-backed bull
Black scoter
Surf scoter
Herring Gull
Northern Gannet
Greater Scaup
Brown pelican

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