Saturday, May 31, 2014

South Cape Meadows

I am always excited to walk along the beach in the Meadows at the end of May/beginning of June as it's time for the birth of the American Oystercatcher chicks.  It is also a time of mating for the Least Terns.  Last year most of the Least Terns left the area due to destruction of their eggs so I wasn't sure there would even be any terns.  While there were some of the terns the majority of them have left for other nesting areas.  Hopefully in the future they'll come back.
Least Terns Mating Ritual

American Oystercatchers and chicks

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Kimble's Beach ~ Horseshoe Crab Tagging

I didn't get to help with the horseshoe crabs tagging last year so this year I made it a priority to be off.  I invited my girlfriend, Bernie to join me.  Since the horseshoe crabs are here in abundance this year I was excited to be joining the tagging.  I was surprised to find out that this year because of so many groups doing the tagging we would only be collecting 500 of the horseshoe crabs and using 500 tags.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Kayaking Cape Island Creek ~ Day 2

It was another nice day out on the creek though I was by myself there were other people also out kayaking. Today there weren't as many birds but I saw 7 different Clapper Rails which is a bird known for it's secretive habits.  Since the Clapper Rail is one of my favorite birds I decided on showing a few of those seen this AM.  Perhaps it was the time I chose to kayak or perhaps some of the birds have now flown north to the Arctic having filled up on food here.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Kayaking ~ Cape Island Creek with Brooke and Kate

It's been quite a while since I have kayaked, probably since fall 2012 so when my company wanted to kayak I was ready to go.  The creek in springtime has migrating birds that feed on the mudflats along the creek especially seen at low tide.  Today was no exception with the birds in their breeding plumage and Ospreys flying overhead.
Short-billed Dowitcher
Semipalmated Plover

Eastern Willet

Friday, May 23, 2014

Reed's Beach - Red Knots and more

Every spring the Red Knot, an endangered shorebird flies from it's wintering home in Chile back to the Arctic to breed.  The birds stop once in the long flight along the shores of the Delaware Bay where it refuels by eating Horseshoe Crab eggs. One of the miracles of nature is that the Horseshoe Crabs know when to leave their homes on the floor of the Atlantic ocean along the East Coast and travel back to the bay to spawn.  This spawning takes place during the new and full moons in May and June with the largest concentration around the full moon in May.  We are building to the full moon now and there are hundred's, probably thousands of the crabs here spawning and many more than I have seen in recent years.  This year the numbers of Red Knots looks higher also.  Stopping at Reed's Beach today I was talking to one of the scientist's who are studying the Red Knots and he said that there were between 6000 and 8000 Red Knots on the beach today where they were trapping and tagging the birds. The birds were flying across from an island nearby in large groups and I could see at least 1000 Red Knots, plus Ruddy Turnstones along with gulls on the beach.  If I could have a wish about spring migration it would be that the Laughing Gull and other gulls didn't also enjoy feasting on the Horseshoe Crab eggs.

Top birds Red Knots(4) and bottom birds Ruddy Turnstones

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Delaware Bay ~ Return of the Horseshoe Crabs

Amazing sight to see all of the Horseshoe Crabs that returned to spawn this spring along the Delaware Bay. From south Reed's Beach down to Del Haven's beaches there were hundreds of them at high tide.  It was like eye candy thinking of the feasts the migrating shorebirds will be having over the next few days before the birds fly off to the Arctic to breed.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Higbee Beach ~ Mother's Day Birding

Northern Parula
A text went out early Mother's Day that there was a large fallout of warblers at Higbee Beach.  It was warm and sunny and there were birds everywhere.  Along with the birds were lots of experienced birders who were willing to help the less experienced birders spot them.  I saw 12  species of warblers including  Black & White, Hooded, Common Yellowthroat, Redstart, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Blue, Wilson's, Northern Parula, Black-throated Green, Chestnut-sided, Cape May and Yellow-breasted Chat.  There were Orchard Orioles, Eastern Kingbirds, Indigo Buntings and Blue Grosbecks.  There was a large hatching of bugs and most of the birds were acting like the flycatchers.  It was such a wonderful day.
American Field Sparrow

Indigo Bunting

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

Here's a collection of some of my favorite birds and their checks pictures.  Enjoy...
American Oystercatcher with days old chicks ~ South Cape Meadows, NJ

Piping Plover parent watching out for chick ~ South Cape Meadows, NJ
Piping Plover chick learning to feed at the water's edge ~ South Cape Meadows, NJ
Elegant Tern chick wanting to be feed ~ Potter's Marsh outside of Anchorage, Alaska
Clapper Rails learning to cross the water ~ Benny's landing Rd, NJ
Horned Grebe chicks take a ride on Mom's back ~ Potter's Marsh outside Anchorage, Alaska

Friday, May 9, 2014

Higbee's Beach birding

Another slow start to the birding day made me feel badly as many people on the walk were from out of town.   They were here hoping for some warbler fallout but this morning was foggy and damp.  Our first good looks were at of a Yellow-breasted Chat.  Then we added a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Black and White Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Northern Parula, Prairie Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Yellow Warbler and Common Yellowthroats.  As the morning progressed the sunshine began to peek through and the birds started to flit around the treetops so the walk ended with a decent list of birds.  Sadly it was time to say goodbye to my new birding friends Michael and Lois as they leave for NY. Over the past 2 days I also met some birders traveling the US from Vancouver Island, Canada so chatted with them a short while before the were off for another afternoon of fun in our area.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Afternoon Birding with Michael & Lois

Eastern Kingbird at Cox Hall Creek WMA

After lunch I took Michael & Lois birding at Cox Hall Creek WMA, Northwood Center in Cape May Point and the Beanery.  We must have walked 5 miles during the afternoon but what a great time we had getting to know each other.  Birders, like quilters are great people. They are caring and friendly.

Yellow-rumped Warbler at the Beanery

Red-headed Woodpecker at CMBO's Northwood Cneter

Birding with Mike and Lois

In December I was contacted through birding pals by a couple coming to the Cape May area in May. Michael and Lois have left their home in the Portland, Oregon area and have been birding around the US with many stops along the Gulf coast before heading of the Eastern Seaboard.  They arrived Tuesday on the Cape May-Lewes ferry.  Yesterday they went on several of the birding walks with the Cape May Bird Observatory.  This morning I met up with Mike and Lois and we went on the Belleplain State Forest walk with the CMBO. The weather wasn't the best so the birds weren't as active as I would have liked.  The highlight were point blank looks at Prairie Warblers chasing each other around.

After the walk at Belleplain finished I took them down to Reed's Beach hoping to see some Horseshoe Crab and their eggs with some shorebirds feeding on the eggs.  As we drove down the road the first birds we saw were Surf Scoters and Black Scoters close to the shoreline. At the road's end there were the dozens of Double-crested Cormorants hanging out on the pilings.  Across the inlet water is an island where a large group of just arrived Red Knots were resting.  A walk out onto the jetty afforded us a great look at breeding plumage Ruddy Turnstones, Red Knots, Least Sandpipers, Sanderlings and Laughing Gulls