Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Cape May Year In Pictures: Part 2

Continuing from yesterday's review of the first six months of the year, here's a run-down of some of the more memorable moments from the second half of 2009.

Skimmers Washed Out Of Stone Harbor
An estimated 1,000+ Black Skimmers attempted to nest at the south end of Stone Harbor Point this summer. However, by the beginning of August the colony had been washed out by multiple high tides, forcing the Skimmers to abandon the Point and move up the coast a few miles to Longport. Here's a look at the colony in early-July (photo by Tom Reed).

Boat Trips Reveal Hidden Summer Gems
CMBO helped run two different boat trips this summer, one from Somers Point aboard the Duke o' Fluke; the other from Cape May aboard The Osprey. The trips were excellent ways to look into otherwise inaccessible portions of the back bay marshes of the Cape May Peninsula. One trip out of Somers Point in mid-July netted 40 Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, 20 Tricolored Herons and 19 Little Blue Herons. A trip out of Cape May in mid-August came across an American White Pelican, pictured above by Peter Langman.

Bells Of Autumn
The first familiar "bink" flight calls of Bobolinks overhead are a sure sign that another fall season is not far off. Bobolinks comprise a fair portion of neotropical migrants streaming through Cape May between July and October, and the first often appear in the waning days of June. This flock was photographed by Michael O'Brien.

A Ghost From The Past
Loggerhead Shrikes used to be expected in Cape May during late-summer, but have been almost completely absent for two decades. This bird was found at Cape May Point State Park on August 31st, and hung out there for a couple days. Photo by Karl Lukens.

All-Star Seasonal Crew Makes Autumn Happen
This year's seasonal crew helped bring the magic of Cape May to thousands of visitors throughout the fall. It was difficult to go anywhere around Cape May without seeing one of them in action, or without hearing somebody expressing appreciation for their help and enthusiasm. From left to right: Pete Dunne, Doug Gochfeld, Steve Kolbe, Melissa Roach, Claire Iseton, Ari Waldstein, Josh Lawrey, Jessica Donohue, and Cameron Cox. Not pictured is Nick Metheny, who was the '09 seawatch counter. Thanks to all for a great season (photo by Don Freiday).

Record Eagle Year At Hawkwatch
On September 14th, 46 Bald Eagles passed the Cape May Hawkwatch, a new single day record. By the end of the season, 459 had been counted, blasting the former single-season record of 340 in 2006. Here is one of those 459, photographed by Don Freiday.

The Biggest Sit
On October 11th, a group of Cape May regulars and visitors crammed the top deck of the Hawkwatch to partake in "The Big Sit!", an international competition in which groups of birders try to identify as many birds as possible from one 17' diameter circle. Thanks to great migration conditions and a remarkable assemblage of birding talent, 146 species were found, quite possibly representing the most species ever seen in North America from one spot in one day. In this photo by Don Freiday, the group eagerly anticipates what would eventually be their last bird of the day, an American Redstart.

Cooter Comes Back For More
For several years, a Great Black-backed Gull has preyed on American Coots on Bunker Pond. Locals have named this beast "Cooter". Here's the monster in action on Halloween, fighting a coot that is soon to be its lunch. Photo by Don Freiday.

"There's a WHAT in the harbor?!"
On the day after Thanksgiving, Jim Dowdell discovered what would quickly become one of Cape May's most famous vagrants. A young Ivory Gull had somehow made its way into Cape May Harbor, and soon after its discovery, hundreds of birders converged on the scene to catch a glimpse of the Arctic jewel. The bird moved to the Bree-Zee Lee Marina the next day, and proceeded to linger there for two weeks. Over a thousand birders from all over the country came to see the bird, which was likely the most viewed, and most photographed, Ivory Gull in history. Photo by Kevin Karlson (this was his life Ivory).

Wicked Weather Brings Wacky Birds To The Lake
A cold and stormy December was punctuated by a rare early-winter snowstorm on the 19th. The storm resulted in a postponement of the Cape May Christmas Bird Count, and also brought some lingering birds to Lily Lake, which was kept free of ice by bubblers. In the days following the storm, notable birds such as Green Heron, Glossy Ibis, Long-billed Dowitcher and Sandhill Crane (photo'd above by Mike Crewe) were all found at the lake. Perhaps even more remarkable was the Ruby-throated Hummingbird that continued to linger through the storm in West Cape May.