Thursday, May 31, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Remembrances

Cape May County Veteran's Cemetary dressed in flags on Memorial Day
for the troops who served our country.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ending a great day of birding - Heislerville

Since May is usually great for Heislerville for shore birds I thought I would take a drive to Matts Landing, East Point Lighthouse and Thompson Beach Rd.  First stop were the impoundments at the end of Matts Landing.  I'd have to say I was really disappointed because both of the impoundments had  few birds.  Down to East Point Lighthouse where I saw another Tri-colored Heron along with some shorebirds off in a distance,  I did see a beautiful sailing ship off in the distance.

Down to Thompson's Beach Rd where there are 2 fairly close Osprey nests so good looks at those birds.  There were also a number of Osprey flying overhead with both fish and branches for the nest building.  I heard and saw good munbers of Marsh Wrens, several Clapper Rails, many Barn and Tree Swallows, Eastern Kingbirds (pictured below) and the trusty Red-winged Blackbirds.  

Cook's Beach on a great day of birding

After checking out Benny's Landing Road where I finally saw my first Clapper Rail of the season I cut across the island to Cook's Beach hoping to see some Red Knots feasting on the horseshoe crab eggs. Cook's Beach was having great flybys of mixed shorebirds though I saw no Red Knots in the mix. It looked like there were good numbers of Semipalmated Sandpipers, Sanderlings and a few Dunlin and Ruddy Turnstones.   Going back out the road I saw Willets, Snowy Egrets and a great Glossy Ibis feeding among the reeds in a pan.

Nummy Island - Start of a great day of birding

When arriving on Nummy Island where the Terns were catching fish I went forward to walk along the side of the road so I could get in better range for pictures and almost walked on top of an American Oystercatcher nest.  Momma/Dad Oystercatcher was so buried I couldn't see the bird in amongst the wrack.  As the AO left the nest I caught a glimpse of her eggs so I took a quick photo before backing away from the area and letting Momma return to nest.  The AO returned quickly to the nest.
 The terns were fishing as were the Snowy and Great Egrets.  Almost every time the terns dived a fish was caught and across the way on the spit the egrets were feasting on small fish.
I saw Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, (left) a Tri-colored Heron, Greater Yellow Legs, Black-bellied Plovers, Dowitchers,  Red-winged Blackbirds, Willets, Laughing Gulls and more.

Further down the road the Black-crowned Night Heron was catching breakfast. It was fun to watch the BCNH catch the fish caught up in the green slime, get the fish out and eat it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tagging Horseshoe Crabs

Tonight's one of the nights for tagging horseshoe crabs...   The tagging is done timed with the nights before and after the full moon and new moons in mid May and early June as that is when a great number of the Horseshoe crabs come ashore to spwan and lay their eggs on the beaches along the NJ and Delaware beaches of the Dealware Bay.
Last year my sister, Jenny and I along with friends Danielle and Charles and Sherri and Barry all went the same night to help out with the tagging.  Tonight's adventure will not include any of those people but will include another friend, Susan who is also a photographer and nature lover.

Here are several pictures from last year - collecting the crabs and after they were tagged (below)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The return of the Red Knots

May here along the Delaware Bay means the return of the spawning Horseshoe crabs which brings the shorebirds that feed on their eggs.  The birds that feed on their eggs are the Red Knots, Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderlings and Semipalmated Sandpipers.  It's an exciting time to see them all returning to Reed's Beach, Moore's Beach, Cook's Beach and the beaches along the Delaware Bay from the Villas and up past Fortescue.  Of course, the Laughing Gulls are always present and taking a good numbers of the eggs leaving less for the smaller birds that count on the protein from the horseshoe crab eggs to beef up for the trip to their breeding grounds in the Arctic.This phenomenon also occurs along the Delaware side of the Delaware Bay.  Here are some pictures of the birds flying and feeding along the shoreline on Reed's  Beach.  The third picture below shows the horseshoe crabs behind the birds that are feasting on their eggs.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Out & about on a Sunday afternoon

Today included a trip on the Skimmer Salt Marsh Safari. My first trip on the boat since last fall where we saw lots of migrating spring shorebirds plus some that stay here to breed. The highlight of of the trip for me had to all of the Whimbrel feeding in the salt marshes.  There was a family of American Oystercatchers with chicks though we didn't get to see the chicks.  Several times we saw American Oystercatchers doing flybyes.

When going home I stopped to bird along Ocean Drive going towards Cape May. Here I saw Dunlin, Yellow Legs, Dowitchers, Willets and lots of Laughing Gulls.

Dunlin (pictured above)    Greater Yellow Legs (pictured below)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday - My backyard gardens

"Gardening is how I relax. It's another form of creating and playing with color." Oscar de la Renta

Friday, May 4, 2012

The flight of the butterflies

On May 1st I saw good numbers of butterflies flying along Rt 147, then even more along the Ocean Drive  up and over the bridge onto Nummy Island.  The butterflies were everywhere.  I could see mostly Red Admirals with some Painted Ladies.  When I got home there were Painted Ladies in my garden nectaring on the Cat Mint I planted last year.

To tell a Painted Lady butterfly from a American Lady butterfly you look to the hindspots on the butterflies.  The Painted Ladies have 4 small hindspots while American Ladies have 2 larger hindspots.

Today there was an even larger migration of Red Admirals, Painted Ladies and American Ladies that went through Cape May and Atlantic counties.  On Don Frieday's blog he estimates the number of butterflies that migrated today.  The link to his post is below and makes for very interesting reading. <>  My understanding from some research is that there are epic flights like this about every 10 years though no one I have spoken to remembers seeing a flight this massive in the past 20 years.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Whimbrel have arrived!

Every year there are certain birds I look for during the spring migration. Two of these birds are the Whimbrel (below) and also the Clapper Rails.
  Mind you I am not an experienced birder having only been birding just over 2 years but there are still birds that have caught my fancy.  I know they'll be more birds as the years go by especially since my overall bird list numbers isn't that high yet.  So for the past week on the way home from work I have been stopping by Nummy Island and today I was rewarded with sights of at least 2 dozen Whimbrel mixed with Black-bellied Plovers, Dunlin, Dowitchers and other shorebirds.

It was also cool to see the Whimbrel take off and land again.

One of the things I noticed while driving along Nummy Island were the great numbers of Red Admiral butterflies flying up over the bridge and along the island traveling from the South to the North.  There were hundreds of them flying through and when I got home they were in my gardens also.