In 45+ years of birding, I've never experienced anything like the spectacle
of Cape May Warblers that enthralled 5 of us this morning. Today was VCE's
annual Birdathon, and I gladly took advantage of the opportunity to bird
from dawn to dusk. Without question, warblers stole the show, and Cape Mays
played a starring role. We found more than 20 individuals, and 15 of these
were spectacularly concentrated in two flowering ornamental cherry trees in
a Kendall Station yard. We stood for 30 minutes, mouths agape, watching
them at close range as they foraged on insects in and among the blossoms. A
stunning male Bay-breasted appeared, and a Nashville joined the throng.
I returned 10 hours later at 7 pm, and there were still 13 Cape Mays
foraging industriously and quietly, this time joined by 2 hummingbirds and
a male Baltimore Oriole. They were still going strong when I left 20
minutes later. About 2/3 of the birds were males.
Overall, we found 98 species today, all but one (a Swainson's Thrush on
Norford Lake Road) in Norwich. Eighteen warblers also included Tennessee,
Magnolia, Canada and Wilson's. An Eastern Meadowlark at Pirouette Farm on
Hogback Road was unexpected, as was the pair of N. Mockingbirds there. With
water levels on the Connecticut River again high, shorebirds were scarce,
though 4 Short-billed Dowitchers roosting in shoreline vegetation below the
Ledyard Bridge were a surprise. They were still there at 8 pm, but I
watched them fly off to the north, calling, at 8:25 pm, clearly beginning
the night's migration.
A great day to be out!
Vermont Center for Ecostudies
PO Box 420 | Norwich, Vermont 05055