|The CMBO Century Run Team - © Clay Taylor|
The World Series of Birding is an annual competition and fund-raiser for nature and environmental organizations in which teams try to see or hear as many bird species as possible inside a 24 hour period (midnight to midnight) and inside the state of New Jersey. It’s held on a Saturday in the first half of May, May 6th this year. It was begun in 1984 by Pete Dunne and others, and the first year there were thirteen teams. This year there were 71 teams and hundreds of participants. Since its inception, the event has raised more than ten million dollars for the organizations involved. Our team, the Cape May Bird Observatory Century Run began in 1987, I believe. My first year was 1988, and though I’ve missed a few years, I’ve participated about 25 times. The event is a mixture of exciting (when you find good things), frustrating (when you don’t), a cool nature adventure, an exhausting experience, and usually lots of fun. Every year a core group of fans and supporters help me contribute to the cause of the Cape May Bird Observatory’s mission of conservation, education and preservation, and I’m glad they were there for me again this year. I could always use additional pledges and support - more about that at the end of the article.
Our 2017 team had 15 members. I can’t identify all of them by name, but I will point out this year’s team leader, Brett Ewald, center, in the black jacket. Brett is the new CMBO program director and an expert birder. The two people to the right of him in black and magenta, respectively, are Kathy and Roger Horn, the team planners, along with Patti Domm. Patti works on logistics and with sponsors. Roger and Kathy plan the route, do most of the scouting, and keep everyone on point. To the right of Roger, second from the right, is Karl Lukens, a long-time CMBO Associate Naturalist and co-leader. At far right is Clay Taylor of Swarovski Optik, a team sponsor and the one with all the newest high-tech toys and gear. He’s been kind enough to give me some of his photos for this article, which will greatly improve it. That’s me on the far left.
|Early Morning at Cox Hall Creek - © Todd Klein|
|Laughing Gulls at Reeds Beach - © Todd Klein|
|Seawatching at Norbury's Landing - © Todd Klein|
|Jake's Landing - © Todd Klein|
The next stop was Jake’s Landing, also on the bayshore, where we were delighted to see the sun! It came and went over the next few hours, and as the air was cool, in the low to mid 60s, it was welcome. The wind also continued all day, but did not interfere with our birding until much later.
|Seaside Sparrow - © Clay Taylor|
|Listening for Songbirds in Belleplain - © Todd Klein|
|Scarlet Tanager - © Clay Taylor|
|Summer Tanager - © Clay Taylor|
|Higbee Beach WMA - © Todd Klein|
We headed back to Cape May and the Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area next, where the wind-sheltered, sunny fields got pretty warm. We were in the midday lull, a time when birds get quiet and often nap, not good for our numbers.
|Prairie Warbler - © Clay Taylor|
We did enjoy a few more cool birds like this Prairie Warbler, but we’d already counted that one in Belleplain. After walking around for over an hour with only a few new species to add to our tally, it was time for our own midday break.
We ate our packed lunches at the picnic pavilion in the Cape May Point State Park, used the bathrooms, and rested up a bit before going out at it again. We don’t stop to buy food or drink usually, so you have to bring it all with you. I pack a large cooler filled with food and drink that gets me through the day. Afterwards we spent a short amount of time looking for new species there, but the leaders kept getting alerts about good things being seen at the Cape May Meadows. That’s a new aspect of birding these days: cell phones, texting, social media and birding informational sites like eBird are changing the way things are done. For the World Series of Birding, there are some things that aren’t allowed, but there’s also a message service between all the leaders to give tips on what’s being seen where. Karl Lukens’ phone was giving out his Black Rail call ringtone all day with those messages. Sometimes they were very helpful, more often we were far away from the sightings and not going there anyway.
|Among other teams at the Meadows - © Todd Klein|
As new cloud banks rolled in, we walked the trails at the Cape May Meadows, where we’d begun our day hours earlier, and found lots of new things for our list, some of them rare.
|Stilt Sandpiper - © Clay Taylor|
|Singing Prothonotary Warbler - © Clay Taylor|
|Scanning Nummy Island - © Todd Klein|
|Dunlin - © Todd Klein|
|Stone Harbor - © Todd Klein|
|Yellow-crowned Night-Heron - © Todd Klein|
|Listening for a Waterthrush - © Todd Klein|
|Nearing the End: Jake's Landing - © Todd Klein|
On Sunday, a brunch was held for those participants who wanted to attend. I never do that, as I’d rather be home working on this report and whatever else I need to do. After the awards are given at the brunch, the official results of the World Series of Birding are posted on their WEBSITE.
Thanks to my supporters and my own donation, I’ll be able to contribute pledges of several hundred dollars to the Cape May Bird Observatory for our team. It will take time for all the pledges and donations to be turned in and counted, but you can follow that on the main website page, and if you’re interested in our own team’s fundraising efforts, you can follow those HERE.
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our birding adventures. No doubt I’ll be doing this again next year, and will blog about it then.
Captain's Note - Thanks to Todd for taking the time to write this summary of a wonderful day, the team members that make it happen, Clay Taylor and Swarovski Optik for gear, equipment and camaraderie, and all the support, both financial and logistical, that make this such a great event for Conservation!