Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cape Maygration... part 1

Our spring weekend, affectionately known as Cape Maygration, has come and gone. It may only be one weekend of the year, but it is amazing how much planning goes into making sure that everyone has a good time - and how long it takes to get back to normal again afterward! If you were here for the weekend, we were pleased to see you and so grateful for your support of our work - and you will know what a great time we had. If you couldn't make it this year, well I'll give you a sample of what we saw and maybe you will be able to join us another time.

In this first review, I'm posting a simple photo gallery of some of the great birds seen during the event - a long weekend in which nearly 190 species of birds were recorded during our Cape Maygration events (and there were a number of other bird species that we know were in the area too!). It really is great to see so many people getting into wildlife photography these days, something that the relative cheapness of digital compared with film has no doubt played a part. This boom in wildlife photography is certainly something that we have responded to and if you check out our online events calendar or the Kestrel Express, you will see that we have photographic walks, workshops and tutorials more or less throughout the year, under the expert guidance of both Scott Whittle and Mike Hannisian. So here's some highlights from the past week, all taken by friends and weekend participants in and around wonderful Cape May - or should that be Cape A-Mayzing!!

One of spring's great highlights in the Cape May backbays is the gatherings of shorebirds that take place in mid-May. Our regular boat trips out into the marshes around Jarvis Sound regularly offer fabulous opportunities to photograph flocks of Whimbrel, pausing to feed up before continuing north to breed [photo by Beth Polvino].

Just when you have decided that you are destined never to see a Clapper Rail, one pops up right in front of you! This bird was washing yukky saltmarsh mud from its plumage and made a great subject for photography at Heislerville [photo by Peter Langman].

The great diversity of shape and size in birds is always something to marvel at. This Least Sandpiper at Cape May Point State Park is not much bigger than a single swan feather, drifting along on the water beside it [photo by Karl Lukens].

This slightly unusual male Orchard Oriole has been holding territory at the South Cape May Meadows recently. This appears to be a first-year male, but it is unusual - though not unheard of - for such males to have such an extensively black hood [photo by Karl Lukens].

Just when you thought it was too late to see one... I haven't seen a White-crowned Sparrow around Cape May for a long time now, but May can throw up odd birds such as this individual which showed up in the state park for just one day last week [photo by Karl Lukens].

Not to be sniffed at, even the common birds can provide temporary eye-candy to Spring Weekend participants. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are always a delight to see, as well as to study more closely [photo by E J Nistico].

White-eyed Vireos pulled out all the stops this past week and set aside their usual skulking behavior to disport themselves before an appreciative audience [photo by Lambert Orkis].

Despite a dearth of good westerly or south-westerly winds so far this spring, a good handful of warblers made it through in time for spring weekend. Blackburnian Warblers were present in good numbers some days and included this very obliging bird in the pond-side willows at The Beanery [photo by Lambert Orkis].

Some real stars flaunted themselves before the cameras and really made the weekend for many folks. This first-summer male Summer Tanager posed beautifully at the Higbee Beach parking lot for all to enjoy [photo by Lambert Orkis].

Not photographed on our spring weekend - but worthy of note certainly - were the Cliff (below) and Cave (above) Swallows that hung out at Bunker Pond recently. Cave Swallows seem to be increasing on the east coast of the US so it is worth having an eye in for their appearance. Compared with the Cliff Swallow below, note Cave's orangey (not white) forehead and much paler throat [photos by Sam Galick].

While we are on swallows, take a trip to CMBO's Goshen Center to get excellent close views of the Barn Swallows nesting above the front door [photo by Beth Polvino].

Even the local Great Horned Owls got themselves on the weekend tally sheet; this young Great Horned Owl was a nice find at Hidden Valley and still has large amounts of down to get rid of before he's really ready to fly any distance [photo by Peter Bosak]

Eye-candy indeed! The outrageously gaudy male Painted Bunting manages to get itself to the Cape May area most springs and often shows up at a back yard feeder. This was the case when this individual showed up at a feeder in East Vineland on May 12th - just too late for World Series and too early for Spring Weekend!!! [Photo by Robert McKenzie]

Mid-May is certainly a great time to be at Cape May!!!