Friday, March 22, 2013

Looking good for the weekend

It really is a topsy turvy month so far, but the forecast looks great for Saturday, when we have plenty for you to enjoy down here at the cape. One of the most popular of all our various boat trips is the Loons and Shorebirds Cruise, the first of which comes up this Saturday. Running from 1PM to 3PM out of the Miss Chris Marina, this trip focuses on the loons now gathering in the backbays before heading north, and the first incoming shorebirds which are now arriving here. You are also likely to have a good opportunity to enjoy Horned Grebes, now-arriving Ospreys and a good range of ducks, most of which are in full breeding regalia now. To avoid disappointment, it is best to pre-register for this trip by calling our registrar on 609-861-0700. It may be possible to catch the boat without pre-booking so, if you are heading down last minute, do call The Osprey on 609-898-3500 to be sure of a place. The weather forecast looks excellent for Saturday, so come and treat yourself to an early season, backbay experience.

Common Loons are getting into their spring molt now, gradually acquiring those lovely velvet-black heads and striped necks. This is in contrast to Red-throated Loons, which molt much later and are generally not seen in breeding plumage around Cape May [photos by Marvin Hyett]

Long-tailed Ducks are fabulous birds and small parties can still be heard calling away and courting in the backbays now, especially around the inlets. Head out with us and benefit from local knowledge as we head out into the calm waters of the back bays [photo by Marvin Hyett].

Talking of it being a topsy turvy spring, it was kind of weird to see the birds at the Northwood feeders in the snow yesterday, especially as the Louisiana Waterthrush was still here and no doubt wondering where it took a wrong turn! March is always a tricky month for birds; the weather is unpredictable and food availability is at the lowest it will get all year. So it's a good time to feed birds, as well as a good time to be out seeing what's going on in the wider world - every day has a surprise in store now as spring gradually creeps up on us.

Snow birds were back in Cape May yesterday, offering chances to get next year's Christmas card shots! [Photo by Mike Crewe]

White-breasted Nuthatch is a bird used to the cold and no doubt they carried on regardless...

... but a Black Vulture standing on ice is certainly something you don't see every day! Black Vultures have been expanding their range northward for some years now, but it is still a species that largely favors warmer climes and I am sure that our local birds were really not happy yesterday [photos by Mike Crewe].