Thursday, November 25, 2010

New Jersey Birding - Part 2

On Sunday morning, November 21st, we started off the day by going to Reed's Beach in Cape May. It was prety slow, and there wasnt too much around, but we did find 5 Boat-tailed Grackles perched in the top of a tree.

Boat-tailed Grackle
Next, we drove over to the Cape May Hawk Watch at Cape May Point State Park. They were having a fairly slow day as far as actual raptors migrating out of Cape May and crossing the Delaware Bay, but plenty of raptors were soaring around. The highlight of the morning was a sub-adult Golden Eagle that first appeared to the northeast, soaring and slowly made its way a bit closer to us for some good looks. Other raptors seen included Red-tailed Hawks (even the famous luecistic one named Lucy that has been hanging around Cape May Point for a while, check out a picture of her at this link), Sharp-shinned Hawks, Cooper's Hawks, a Peregrine Falcon, Red-shouldered Hawks, Northern Harriers, and both vultures. We also searched through the large flock of waterfowl at the various ponds around the state park in hopes of finding one or both of the Eurasian Wigeons that had been reported there on and off for quite a while. We were not able to find them, but it was ncie to see the other ducks at close range.

Golden Eagle (sub-adult)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (juvenile)


Northern Shoveler

Drew Weber drove down to Cape May and joined us for some birding for the rest of the day, until a report of the Anna's Hummingbird in PA sent him back. The whole gang, with Drew now included, drove over to the Nummy Island area. Shorebirds were present in good numbers, but they were WAY out on a mudflat, so could only be seen "well" through a scope. New trip birds here included Willet, American Oystercatcher, Semipalmated Plover, and Marbled Godwit. We then made the quick jump over to Stone Harbor Point to search the dunes for Snow Buntings and Lapland Longspurs. However, out over the ocean hundreds of Northern Gannets, Red-throated Loons, and scoters were migrating past which distarcted me while everyone else continued to search the, I ended up missing the 15 or so Snow Buntings that Drew, Josh, and Tim found. Luckily both Josh and Tim needed Snow Bunting as a life bird. I was pretty content with seeing the gannets and loons though. There were also some shorebirds on the beach that let me get in close for some photos.
Northern Gannet
Semipalmated Plover

For the fourth day of our trip, on the 22nd, we really didnt have anything planned, so we figured we would just spend some more time at the Avalon Sea Watch, since we all had a great time there. So after a quick stop at Higbee Beach (where bird activity was basically nonexistent) we drove over to Avalon. As we expected, Northern Gannets, Red-throated Loons, and scoters were still pushing through in massive numbers. Other highlights of the Sea Watch were some Purple Sandpipers, a banded Sanderling, and getting to see many species of waterfowl flying past on their way south.
Ruddy Turnstone with line wrapped around its leg/foot

Sanderling with leg band

Surf Scoters migrating past
Finally, it was the 23rd, and we had to head home. We decided to take the Cape May-Lewes Ferry across the Deleware Bay and then stop at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge before officially heading back to PA. The ferry ride was fantastic. I have ridden the ferry many, many times in the past, but the bird life seen on this particular trip was better than ever. Constant groups of Red-throated Loons flew past the front of the ferry; a few Common Loons; stream after stream of Surf and Black Scoters passed by. Thousands of Northern Gannets were literally everywhere you looked; diving behind the boat, sitting on the water, flying in the distance....they were everywhere. All the Northern Gannet age classes were present too, which was nice to see. By far the best bird of the ferry ride was an adult Parasitic Jaeger that I spotted flying out in front of the ferry, heading south very low to the water. This was a lifer for everyone in our group, except me.
Northern Gannet
Red-throated Loon

Common Loon

By 10:30am we were at Bombay Hook NWR. We basically had the whole place to ourselves and it was loaded with birds. At an observation tower near the start of the auto tour loop, we spotted a group of about 250 American Avocets, along with a few Marbled Godwits, Long-billed Dowitchers, and Dunlin. There were tons of waterfowl around. We searched pretty hard for the Barnacle Goose and White-fronted Goose that had been reported there earlier in the week, but couldnt find them. I did manage to spot a Cackling Goose among all the Canada Geese though, which was a lifer for a few of my friends. Other highlights of Bombay Hook were thousands of Snow Geese, a juvenile Little Blue Heron, Tundra Swans, and the shear number of individual waterfowl.
Bald Eagle

American Avocets

White-tailed Deer swimming through the marsh

So that brought us to the end of our trip. 5 days, 5 friends, 113 species of birds.

To check out all the photos I took from this trip, please visit my Picasa web album at this link.

1 comment:

  1. Your photography is great!
    Come check out World Bird Wednesday, a place for bird photographers to share their blogs. It going on at
    Your Invited!