I arrived in Cape May bright and early and once I found my way around my first stop was at South Cape May Meadows. I was quite surprised to drive into the parking lot and find it completely filled with birders. There was a morning bird walk going on and I was fortunate to squeeze in to one of the few remaining parking spots. I love tailing along with local groups as they usually are “in the know” but this group consisted of at least 50 people so I decided to go left as they went right.
I quickly noted that it was very birdie, really, really birdie. There were dozens of Sparrows, mostly Swamp Sparrows but there were also a few White-throated and White Crowned Sparrows mixed in as well. There were quite a few Yellow-rumped Warblers and a few House Wrens and many Ducks flying around. I had read that there was an American Golden Plover and an Eurasion Wigeon that had been seen in the last couple of days so I decided not to spend too much time with the Sparrows and made my way to the impoundments.
I’ve been to Cape May once before and remembered that they have a large group of resident Mute Swans. I counted at least two family groups with maybe 10 total. They were quite flighty and did not allow a very close approach. I did manage a couple of in flight shots which were a first for me.
The Ducks consisted of mostly Mallards with a few of Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon and Ruddy Ducks. I think they thought it was hunting season because as stealthily as I attempted to approach all I really ended up getting were some flight shots.
And of course there were quite a few Canadian Geese too!
The only shorebirds I saw were a Yellowlegs and then some Sanderlings on the beach. The water level was quite high after a couple of days of rain and there really was no shorebird habitat to speak of.
I was noticing quite a few Raptors flying around and over the meadows. They seemed to be mostly Sharp-shinned and Coopers Hawks and occasionally a Red-tailed Hawk or a Merlin would go through also. I decided to head down to the Lighthouse area where the Hawk Watch was set up and see how their count was going and if I was correct in my identifications. I spent about an hour at the Hawk Watch listening to the spotters as they counted the migrating Raptors. They had over 250 Sharp-shinned Hawks in one hour!! Simply incredible birding and another one of my many WOW moments on my trip.
I wandered down to the Lighthouse Pond and was lucky to get this Mute Swans portrait as this was my only shot of this guy before he swam off.
It was now around lunch time and seeing that I had skipped breakfast my stomach decided it was time to move on. I was scheduled for the 3:30 ferry over to Lewes Maryland but thought I might as well try to get on an earlier one if that was possible. I was super lucky and there was a scheduled 1:30 ferry and there was plenty of room.
The ferry ride across was wonderful, calm and mostly sunny. There was a large contingent of Gulls following the ferry across and I managed a few clear shots of an adult and juvenile Greater Black-backed Gulls. I also saw a few Northern Gannet and some Surf Scoters on the Delaware side of the ferry ride.
The ferry landing was technically the actual end of the birding portion of the trip. I still had 15 hours of driving ahead of me which fortunately went very well. I was lucky to not run into any major construction or accidents either going up or coming home.
I ended the trip with over 100 species seen (I haven’t added it up to be exact) and the 3 “lifers” were like icing on the cake of a wonderful trip. It was awesome to see my Daughter and Laura and share their fantastic company for a couple of days. I’m sure I’ll get to explore this area again, that is unless I can talk them in to moving to lets say Colorado or Washington State so I’d have a reason (beside birding) to visit those parts of the country!
I have one weird observation from the trip. I drove nearly 3800 miles and the one thing that really stuck in my mind and kind of disappoints me is that I must have seen 1,000 McDonald’s signs along the interstate. I really got tired of seeing the Golden Arches and I kept on thinking “No wonder America is so over weight” Don’t get me wrong I eat at Mickey D’s occasionally but at least where I’m from there are lots of other choices. In many rural areas along the interstate the locals only had the one choice … sorry for the rant.
Thank you all so much for visiting and I’ll have a local post in a couple of days. I’ve seen some decent birds the past week and will share them soon!