Friday, May 20, 2011

Every Cloud...

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining, so there's a lot of silver around Cape May this week!! Yes, the weather isn't being overly ideal for our very first Cape Maygration festival, but judging by the smiley faces this morning on our Beanery walk, the weather isn't spoiling the fun. And that's because the birds are just great! If you couldn't make it this year, we're sorry and hope to see you soon; if you chose not to come - here's some of what you're missing!

Morning walks have largely been very successful in finding some great birds and - just as importantly - missing the rain! (To be honest, we've dodged the worst of the weather so far, which often happens here at the point).The one sad thing is that the weather continues to keep migrants to the west and a Cape May spring fall just hasn't happened this year, but the shorebirds have been spectacular and I particularly enjoyed my three-hour session on the Shorebird Watch at Reed's Beach with Steve Weis, which gave our visitors some great views of the activity around the Horseshoe Crab egg-laying spectacular. Other hot news includes the continued residency of the first-summer Glaucous Gull at 2nd Avenue Jetty, up to three Mississippi Kites at various locations from Higbee's Beach south to Cape May Point, a Summer Tanager at The Beanery this morning (and good numbers singing at Belleplain too) and continuing great looks at Clapper Rails on the boat and kayak trips. Outside of our Cape Maygration trips, I hear news of the odd Blackpoll Warbler still around, a White-winged Dove on Thursday at Cape May Point and a Sooty Shearwater in The Rips Friday morning.

A familiar scene in Cape May in late May - Laughing Gulls make a raucous addition to the mad scramble to eat up the crab eggs - makes you wonder how any of the eggs ever make it! [photo by Mike Crewe]

This is why we love Cape May! The Reed's Beach jetty boils with Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlin, Semipalmated Sandpipers and Red Knot [photo by Mike Crewe].

Shorebirds in close-up - we all had fabulous close looks at Dunlin, Red Knot and Semipalmated Sandpipers - and much, much more... [photo by Mike Crewe]

If you are here for Cape Maygration and you haven't attended one of the Shorebird Watches yet - do come along and enjoy this amazing natural spectacle. Actually, one thing that people have been commenting on this year is an apparent shortage of Horseshoe Crabs at some of the beaches. This may not be unrelated to what has been happening up in Cumberland County, where concerned locals have literally been carting wheelbarrow-loads of crabs back to the bay after they were stranded in the saltmarsh by unusually high tides. If the crabs end up trying to egg-lay in intertidal mud, it won't be a good season for them or the birds...

A little further afield, Kevin Karlson sent me this photo of one of the two Eurasian Whimbrels that have been showing of late up at Bringatine. Note the trademark white rump and lower back of this Old World bird - which may some time be split as a different species from the North American Hudsonian Whimbrel.

This great shot of a Glossy Ibis at Shellbay Landing reminded that there's still plenty of these smart birds around Cape May at the moment - and the White-faced Ibis still lingers at the south end of Stipson Island Road too. [Photo by Beth Polvino]

Beth Polvino takes some great portrait shots of birds, but occasionally you like a shot that offers something more - here, Beth photographed a Clapper Rail in mid-wash which gives a wonderfully surreal image!

If you're coming down to our walks at Cape May Point, the beach offers great opportunities for birding. There's plenty of terns to enjoy, with Least Terns nesting on the beach and Forster's Terns fishing in the ponds.

Least Tern at South Cape May Beach [photo by Karl Lukens].

The wooden jetty at Bunker Pond is a great place to study Forster's Terns with their bright orange bill and legs; keep an eye out for the occasional Common Tern too - here's one, showing its darker red bill and legs, tail ending short of the wing tips and shorter legs (though the latter is hard to appreciate here as the Forster's Tern's legs are partially out of sight behind the railing. [Photo by Karl Lukens]

Don't forget that Cape May is not only about awesome birds, it's about awesome bugs too! Check out your Cape Maygration program for walks by our butterfly & minibeast man, Will Kerling. I spotted this duo of male Luna Moths in the grass at Villas WMA a few days ago and they hung on long enough for Tony Leukering to stop by for a look. Quite why these two males were both hanging on the same grass stem together I just don't know! [Photo by Mike Crewe]

...and if you're still waiting for a personal greeting from the Cape May residents, you could do what Louise Zemaitis did and park your vehicle down at the state park! [photo by Mike Crewe]

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