Townsend’s Warbler, King Eider, Razorbill, Black-legged Kittiwake, Western Tanagers (X2!)
With some vacation time left to use or lose with work, I decided to try for some of the recent rarities reported in/near Cape May. I started the morning off at Cape May Point looking for the on-going, rare western visitor, Townsend’s Warbler. A couple laps around the Yale block and I finally got a nice look at it in the entry way parking lot right across from the lighthouse. It didn’t stay long and I was bummed not to get a photograph (I stayed for quite a while after trying to re-find it with no luck) but excited to actually see it.
Then, I headed towards the beach by the St. Mary’s dune platform to look for a reported King Eider. I hadn’t seen King Eider in NJ, and the previous day also had reports of Dovekie and Razorbill from this location, so my interest was high. The King Eider (along with 4 other Eider) was drifting not far off the beach when I arrived, and there were a group of sea watching birders all heavily scanning the horizon. Apparently, a possible Pacific type Loon was seen before I got there and birders were hoping it showed again. While there, I saw quite a few Razorbill (at least 5 in the short time I was there) while a mentioned total for others was in the 20s . I also got a good look at a Black-legged Kittiwake (others there had seen 3-5, and this was the only one I have ever seen from shore) in the distance approaching a fishing boat along with quite a few Red-throated Loon and Scoter. We also had an interesting event with a dark bird that apparently died or was injured that sort of spun and landed that proceeded to float past our location. No one was quite sure what it was but it could have been an alcid or a land bird of some sort even.
Finally, I headed out of town and decided to stop by Cape May Courthouse for a reported Western Tanager. When I arrived the bird had been seen but it was mentioned that this might be a second bird as it was a female or at least, not the bright male that others had seen. I actually got to see both birds actually with the bright male working a tree right by the intersection of West Hand and Dias Creek Road. Awesome! Also had two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers working the same tree. Not a bad day at all thanks to good info from NJ Birders!