Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Easterly winds - an opportunity for some alternative birding

The forecast doesn't look great for scholars of East Coast bird migration right now, with a predominance of light and variable winds mostly showing an easterly element. However, though Cape May birding is largely about migration at this time of year, it isn't entirely so. This has been borne out over the past few evenings with a number of us taking time out from migration studies to go and count some pretty impressive gatherings of herons and egrets out in the back bays. Tom Reed has been leading efforts to count numbers of birds at a particularly large roost north of Stone Harbor and doubtless he will reveal some of the results in his weekly round-up in a couple of days time.

So, if you are in town and missing out on migrants, what can you be looking for? Well, there's plenty of opportunity to take a boat trip and get closer to waterbirds; Clapper Rails continue to show consistently and well, and an American Avocet was reported yesterday out in the creeks. Ospreys with young feature strongly and I hear that a pair of Bald Eagles are feeding a fledged youngster and delighting a number of our boat trip groups.

Mid-August is also a classic time to take a walk with us at Higbee Beach, for now is the time that Eastern Kingbirds collect there in large, pre-migratory staging flocks - so far, some 300 or so birds seem to be present and feeding well on Black Cherries, which have had a good fruiting year this year.

There's also a great opportunity to help your favorite hobby by giving something back; this Friday sees the third Cape May Pledge 2 Fledge event taking place at Cape May Point State Park from 3-6PM. The aim of this program is for all birdwatchers to make an effort to convert a new birdwatcher - we all pledge to fledge a new member to our ranks. In this way, we hope not only to spread the word on the wonders of birdwatching, but also to instill a greater understanding of the needs of our beleaguered environment into the wider population, in the hope that we can all work together towards doing what's best for wildlife and - inevitably - for us. Cape May Bird Observatory and the Nature Center of Cape May will both be represented, so come on down and see us - either at our stall near the park entrance, or at the hawkwatch platform, where you can help us to see how many birds we
can locate during the course of the event.

Oh, and don't forget to bring a friend! See you there...

When bird movements are quiet at the point, you can usually count on the back bays to provide you with some good birding; this American Avocet was seen from the Osprey boat trip recently and may perhaps be the bird that had been seen several times at The Meadows recently [photo by Warren Cairo].

Whether you are 9 or 90, birding is a great hobby and instills in many a greater knowledge and understanding of the needs of other species. From there the best decisions to protect our environment and, ultimately, our own future can be made, based on sound knowledge and proven facts. These two Barn Swallows have just recently fledged from TNC's South Cape May Meadows - it's time for all of us to fledge a friend - come and join us at the state park on Friday [photo by Warren Cairo].