Thursday, September 25, 2014

Variety is the spice of life!

Variety is the spice of life, they say, and Cape May certainly proves the rule at times. This week has seen quite a change in fortunes for both birds and birders here but, no matter what the weather, it's always worth being out there!

The week started with some fine sunny weather, giving way to some breezy conditions, associated with a front that brought north-west winds and a hoped-for rush of birds. While Higbee Beach has certainly stuck to its reputation for providing us with an early morning rush of night migrants, the best activity for avid birdwatchers has most consistently been around CMBO's Northwood Center where, for some reason as yet not fully understood, birds seem to gravitate during the course of the day. Visitors and locals alike are enjoying great close-up views of a great range of warblers - including a handful of Cape May Warblers, which always seem to prefer either the red cedars or the Siberian Elms; good locations for them are either at the front of the Northwood Center, or just around the corner on the other half of East Lake Drive, where a group of three Siberian Elms hang out over the road.

This week, the Avalon Seawatch started and we welcome Skye Haas to our seasonal team. The seawatch begins September 22nd every year and continues to December 22nd, so do be sure to include it in your rounds if you are here for a few days. This summer has seen repeated viewings of Humpback Whales off the Cape May coast, seemingly due to larger than usual numbers of young Atlantic Menhaden feeding here, and Humpback sightings continued from the Seawatch early this week.

As wet and windy weather lashes my office window today, I'll leave you with a few recent photos to highlight Cape May's wonderful diversity...

Now is the time to enjoy the annual spectacle of Tree Swallows at Cape May. Flocks numbering several thousand birds can be found regularly at this time of year as the birds gather to feed in great swarms on bayberry fruits. Favored locations include Avalon (above), Two-mile Beach and South Cape May [photo by Carrie Bell].

Tree Swallows lined up on roadside wires look impressive, but the flock comes to life when the birds periodically swirl around overhead [photo by Carrie Bell].

Wild Turkeys continue to be a feature of Cape May and this bird was enjoying the comfort of a car on Seagrove Avenue recently! Flocks of up to 30 birds have been reported recently from New England Road, while several birds are now regularly being seen around Cape May Point [Photo by Pat King]

Since it's a rainy day today, there's been much interest in our Monarchs that are hanging out (literally!) and having a quick metamorphose at the Northwood Center. It was wonderful to share the experience of watching this Monarch emerge from its chrysalis with some visiting kids - nature through the eyes of youngsters is truly inspiring and magical [photo by Mike Crewe].

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