04 November 2007

Outer Cape 10/29-10/30

I don't think there should be any inaugural post shenanigans, so on to the birds!

I spent a few days with my wife on the Outer Cape, visiting a few places along the National Seashore and Monomoy Island NWR. I hadn't been out there in years, and she had never been. The beaches on the Atlantic side of the Cape are much different than the ones in Falmouth and Mashpee, which I'm used to. Less rocky, wider, and of course the towering dunes on many of them.

This little guy was the cause of a little embarrassment for me, but I'm a big believer in learning from your mistakes and helping others learn from your mistakes. So here goes: There were a number of these little guys running over the beach. Clearly a plover. I'm still a novice at this; I've only been birding for less than a year. And birding is about nothing if it isn't about trying to solve the puzzle of seeing a new bird. I saw this plover

wandering around. There were also others that had very dark backs and bills with a little bit of orange at the base of the bill. I came to the conclusion that this plover was a banded form of Piping Plover and the others were Semipalmated Plovers. When I posted my day's list to eBird, I got a warning that the Piping Plover was not a normal bird to see on the Cape in late October. An eBird reviewer soon wrote me to ask, very nicely, if I had any evidence that this was, in fact a Piping Plover. After looking at my photo he corrected me: this was also a Semipalmated Plover and the banded form of Piping Plover doesn't occur on the Cape. So new birders take note and old birders think back on your early mistakes that made you better!

When Kellie and I went to Monomoy we spent some time trying to figure out what this raptor was:

As we were debating, three young people all decked out for a very professional bird count (possibly rangers?) loudly walked by and flushed our bird down the beach. Not wanting to interrupt or be interrupted, we continued on a little while before we heard one of them shout "Evening F***ing Grosbeak!" Unfortunately I missed the bird, but I figured I would use his elation to ask him what we had been looking at before. He confirmed that it was a young Peregrine Falcon. I still think his nickname for the grosbeak should be accepted by the American Ornithologists' Union, or at least a special consideration be made for the Evening Grosbeak Alpha Code, EVFUGR perhaps?

A picture of a basic plumage Black-bellied Plover to leave you with.

No comments: