Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Cumberland County beckons

As news reaches me of a Black-headed Gull in Cumberland County, I am reminded that this coming Sunday we will be running our 'Bayshore Birding at its Best' visit to the very best birding locations in that very same county. Though it is tough for pretty much anywhere on the east coast to compete with Cape May when it comes to migration, the upper reaches of the Delaware Bay really start to come into their own once November arrives and the winter birds start to flood in. Weather patterns over the past few weeks have produced relatively mild weather for the time of year, but the first early morning frosts are starting to provide Cumberland County with a great range of early winter birds.

Cumberland County offers some spectacular wide landscapes, with vast, sweeping views across the expansive saltmarshes of the Delaware Bay. Snow Geese will soon be flocking there in great number and, already, numbers of wintering Bald Eagles and Northern Harriers are building up. Nearby, a rolling landscape made up of a patchwork of farm fields and wood lots ensures there is always plenty of birds to be found; a wide diversity of sparrows, juncos, towhees and other seedeaters feed quietly in the leaf litter along the woodland edges, Wild Turkeys gather in droves to feed on spilt corn, and great black clouds of blackbirds and grackles flow across the landscape.

Cumberland also has a great number of working and abandoned sand pits, offering a good number of places to seek out a wide range of ducks and other waterfowl. A number of the pits are relatively deep and well stocked with fish, which makes it a great place to look for a number of diving duck species, as well as the usual dabblers. This is a fabulous time of year to be out and about in Cumberland County, and there is no better way to explore this area than with CMBO volunteer naturalists and keen Cumberland fans, Karen Johnson and Janet Crawford - a good time will be had by all!!

To book one of the last places or find out more about this pre-registered walk, contact our program registrar on 609-861-0700. See you there!

Great flocks of dabbling ducks - such as these American Wigeon - add a kaleidoscope of color to Cumberland's ponds and creeks [photo by Mike Crewe].

Busy parties of Buffleheads are now arriving at coastal waterways and Cumberland County offers some great opportunities to enjoy these smart ducks [photo by Mike Crewe].

Our November trips are always full of a great diversity of sparrows and we offer plenty of opportunity to get to grips with these birds. High on the list of priorities will be seeking out the wonderfully skunk-headed White-crowned Sparrow [photo by Mike Crewe].
In scenes sometimes more reminiscent of parts of Alaska, Bald Eagles can put on spectacular views in Cumberland County, as birds come from far and wide to winter along the Delaware Bayshore [photo by Mike Crewe]

Northern Harriers find plenty of good hunting in the open fields and marshes of Cumberland County and the sight of a 'Gray Ghost' slipping silently down the edge of a meadow as a watery sun gives the tawny grasses a golden glow is truly the essence of a November day's birding along the Delaware Bay [photo by Mike Crewe].

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