Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Skimmer Salt Marsh Safari - June 17

Tonight I was out cruising on the Skimmer with Captains Ginny and Ed. It was another fantastic trip on the boat. The weather was cooperative as the predicted thunderstorms never materialized. Instead there was a beautiful sunset once at my home.

We saw Snowy and Great Egrets showed their bridal breeding plummage, American Oystercatchers, Opreys, an elusive Clapper Rail, Forester and Common Terns and several species of Gulls. Best of all were the Laughing Gulls feeding very young chicks while still sitting on more eggs. It was a photographers delight! One Laughing Gull was feeding 2 chicks while sitting on another egg. You can see the egg in the pictures along with the chicks

Cape May Point State Park- June 14

I saw 2 new life birds today at the CMP State Park - the first were a number of Cedar Waxwings. They were flying and foraging among the cedar trees along one of the walkways. The waxwings sure are beautiful birds. (picture Cedar Waxwing).
Then I saw a Purple Gallinule which is not a bird very common to the NJ area. This bird is also very attractive but it was hanging out on the wrong side of the pond for me to get a decent picture of it.

Next I went down onto the beach of the state park where I saw 2 sets of American Oystercatcher chicks. One set was an older set maybe the ones I saw 10 days ago and the other set looked younger just a few days old. AWESOME! Pictured are the older chicks with one chick off from Mom and Dad checking out his enviroment. When he fell off the log it was so funny once I realized the chick didn't get hurt.

   This Great White Egret was fishing for his breakfast when I was watching him.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

the babes have arrived - June 1st

It's been a busy spring and early summer for me. Work is taking second place these days as I am off birding and taking pictures of the wildlife in Cape May County. I haven't been to the Meadows for about 2 weeks and knew that the first of the season chicks for the Piping Plover and American Oystercatchers should have arrived or would be arriving momentarily.

I was rewarded with the sighting of several Piping Plovers adults with their chicks and 2American Oystercatcher couples each with 2 chicks. All of the chicks were quite little so I believe they are only a few days old. First pictured are 2 Piping Plover chicks and then an adult. The second set are one of the American Oystercatchers families.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Thompson Beach Rd - early June

I went to Thompson Beach Rd in Cumberland County to check the bird activity after work one day. Once there I saw many Marsh Wrens flitting to and fro and enjoyed their singing. It was fun to see their nests build into the bushes at the side of the marsh. I also saw several Osprey nests with female Osprey sitting on nests and the males off getting meals for them. There were also Clapper Rails that were heard but not seen and many Barn Swallows flying about and nesting under the overlook structure. Pictured Marsh Wrens and nest plus an Osprey on nest.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Heislerville, Cumberland County

Each spring in Cumberland County near the Maurice River the shorebirds congregate by the 1000's in the impoundments in Heislerville. Here you can find Semipalmated Plovers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Dowitchers, Dunlin, Black Skimmers, Black Bellied Plovers and if you are lucky an oddball or two.
This year birders found both Curlew Sandpiper and Red-necked Phalarope. I was lucky enough to see the Curlew Sandpiper, a new life bird, with the help of another birder. I missed the Red-necked Phalarope.

But it's the spectacale of so many birds that is so impressive. They forage in the mudflats close to the road and allow you close access to study them. Then every once in a while the birds will be spoked and will take off in a cloud of birds, circling around before settling down again to rest or feed some more. It really is fantastic to see the masses of shorebirds all in one place. It's a not to be missed experience for beginning and seasoned birders alike.

Horseshoe Crab tagging - May 31 & June 2

Back in mid May, I saw an article in the Cape May County Herald titled "Want To Get Wet Tagging Horseshoe Crabs?" As I read the article, I learned they were looking for volunteers to go out to Kimbles Beach Rd on several specific evenings after sunset to tag the horseshoe crabs. The evenings targeted were the night before and after the full and new moons in May. I couldn't do the first 2 dates but the second 2 dates were open. I called Jenny and asked her if she'd like to join in the fun. The first night we went was May 31st. As the sun is setting, the representative from the Fish & Wildlife Service explains the procedure for the tagging. Then you break up into groups of about 5-6 people and off you go down the beach. The later it gets at night the more horseshoe crabs pile onto the beach at the high tide mark. We tagged 225 Horseshoe Crabs that first evening. I could have stayed longer but most of the group was ready to go. The first night there were 1250 crabs tagged in all.

I had such a good time the first evening I recruited friends, Charles and Danielle. I also mentioned it on FB and friends, Sheri & Barry came up from Baltimore to help out. Our group had about 7 people in it and we tagged 300 Horseshoe crabs. Even though there were less than half the volunteers on that second night there were still an impressive 1000 crabs tagged. Both nights were AWESOME!

When a tagged horseshoe crab is spotted you are asked to call and report the sighting. These sighting help the biologists studying them track their movements. It also allows the scientists to update their information on that crab. Horseshoe crabs have been tagged since 2001 in NJ.