Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cape Island Wild Turkey Photos and CMBO Twilght Watch walk

(Photo courtesy of Bob Fogg,

Hen Wild Turkey with poult. There were about seven or eight individuals in all.

(Photo courtesy of Bob Fogg,

Above are images taken by Bob Fogg of the turkey family group seen at the end of Bayshore Rd. on Tuesday 9/16. As I said in my last post, I am of the opinion that these young turkeys do not have the complete ability to fly the span of the Cape May canal. This would mean that this species is now nesting on Cape Island. While turkeys have definitely been on the rise in the lower half of the state, having a nesting pair on the island is a pretty exciting thing.

Last night was the regular CMBO Twilight Watch walk at TNCs CMMBR (the Meadows), and yet again, everyone walked away with having made some wonderful observations. The evening started off with our typical looks at the few remaining shorebirds in the main pool. Along with a few Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal, either viewed as flybys or mixed in with the Mallards as is often the case.

A most excellent find was a very hard to see American Bittern in the cattails about half way down the east path, on the east side. The bird never did show the group its entire body but most of us were able to get views at the beak, head and neck, as it did its best to imitate the cattails. This proved to be an exercise in patience as we waited each time the bird went down and were able to see only a small pact of plumage through the vegetation.

Other exciting sights were a lesser amount (in comparison to what has been around as of late) Common Nighthawks bouncing around the sky. There were approximately eight that our group could find. Though, there was enough back and fourth movement over a large area, we could have easily have been seeing different birds but I chose to err on the side of the conservative for the numbers I was posting to eBird.

The last exciting find was a Great-horned Owl which John, a CMBO Interpretive Naturalist, spotted all the way across the west path toward the Cape May Point Stage Park property, from the east path. We were able to hear the young bird continuing to beg morsels from the parents with its raspy screech. Before we headed over to the east path to attempt a better look the bird flew toward the beach and we actually saw that there was a second owl as well. I'm guessing that these birds are siblings. I cannot imaging that the adult birds are still feeding young at this date. But, who knows. The bird was flying down as if attempting to hunt at least.

Knowing that these owls have been observed making use of the Osprey nesting platform by the Plover Pond we hastily headed over the the western dune crossing hoping to get a better look. A bit of quiet scanning and all of a sudden someone pointed out that the bird had come back to the Osprey platform. Even though the sun was past the horizon we were all still able to get decent looks at the bird, thanks to the outstanding Swarovski spotting scope optics. And while we thought that we'd had wonderful looks at very close range the best views (in my opinion and I am guessing the group's considering the ooo's and ahhh's) were had on our way back to the parking lot. Someone noticed about the time we were at the metal bridge that the bird had perched back on the platform. Same bird, same platform, a little further away. But, what was different this time was that we had the beautiful reds of the setting sun sky behind the bird. A gorgeous back drop to view a beautiful bird. I was kicking myself for the fact that I did not have a my camera with me.

So, the walk was successful in all endeavours again this week. While not all migrants we did view herons, owls and bats! Hopefully we'll see you out on the trail with Laura next week.

The list form last nights walk is below.

Location: South Cape May Meadows
Observation date: 9/17/08
Notes: CMBO Twilight Watch 2285 steps = approx. 1.5 miles
Number of species: 34

Canada Goose X
Mute Swan X
Wood Duck 1
Gadwall 1
Mallard X
Blue-winged Teal 5
Green-winged Teal 1
Double-crested Cormorant 2
American Bittern 1
Great Egret 8
Snowy Egret 16
Green Heron 2
Black-crowned Night-Heron 7
Merlin 5
Greater Yellowlegs 2
Lesser Yellowlegs X
Least Sandpiper X
Pectoral Sandpiper 4
Laughing Gull X
Herring Gull X
Great Black-backed Gull X
Black Skimmer 1
Rock Pigeon X
Mourning Dove X
Great Horned Owl 2
Common Nighthawk 8
Barn Swallow 1
Northern Mockingbird X
European Starling X
Common Yellowthroat 8
Savannah Sparrow 12
Red-winged Blackbird X
House Finch X
House Sparrow X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2

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