Wednesday, January 7, 2015

It Might Be Winter Outside...

Winter's icy hand is sweeping across Cape May right now but, though it's cold, the forecast looks sunny for the weekend and our annual 'Winter Warmers' workshop will be taking place on Saturday and Sunday. This is a great time of year for viewing the many species of ducks that make their winter home in Cape May and the indoor section of our workshop will include a photo identification session, giving us a chance to get to grips with these sometimes tricky birds. Winter in Cape May always throws up a suite of unusual birds too and every year is different, the selection being a product of weather patterns over the previous month or two.

To get you all fired up to wrap up warm and come join us, here's a selection of Cape May photos that I just received from Sam Galick - all waiting for you around Cape May right now!!

Ducks will be on the menu this weekend and a good range of diving ducks can still be found on the unfrozen ponds at Cape May Point. We'll talk through the key identification features that will help you sort out this female Ring-necked Duck from all the other confusing diving ducks [photo by Sam Galick.]
Cedar Waxwings are always guaranteed to brighten up a day when they descend to feed on berries that are now just being softened up by the freeze and thaw of winter [photo by Sam Galick].

Like them or not, there will always be little brown jobs to stare at and get us confused! Wintering sparrows can seem bewildering at first, but when you get views like this of a Song Sparrow - they're not so bad, and there's much subtle beauty there to be enjoyed [photo by Sam Galick].

Many of the raptors that pass this way in fall are well to the south of us and if you see a raptor checking out your backyard feeders in the winter here, chances are it will almost certainly be either a Cooper's Hawk or - like this one - a Red-shouldered Hawk. Red-shoulders can be quite approachable at this time of year and we will hope to get views like this over the coming weekend [photo by Sam Galick].

Each winter, a few birds don't read the books and decide to stay well north of where their siblings are hanging out. This Little Blue Heron is showing nicely the classic white plumage, greenish legs and two-toned bill of a first-winter bird [photo by Sam Galick].

As freshwater ponds freeze up temporarily, Belted Kingfishers and other fish-eating birds move down to the saltier waters of the coast. We can't promise views like this, but there should be a kingfisher or two lurking around the back bays this coming weekend [photo by Sam Galick].

Returning to the 'hanging out a long way north' theme, this Baltimore Oriole may well be regretting that it's not in Costa Rica with its mates right now! [Photo by Sam Galick].

Though Orange-crowned Warblers are regular winterers around Cape May in small numbers, finding them is no easy task. Tangles of greenbrier, bramble and rose bushes can harbor these birds - but you have to be diligent to spot one staring out of the thicket - like this one at the state park [photo by Sam Galick].

For more information or to book on our Winter Warmers workshop, call our Program Registrar on 609-861-0700. And if you feel like just coming for one day instead of two, we can sort that out for you also!

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