Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Date: Oct. 17-18, 2009
Location: Cape May, NJ
Reported by: Joe Giunta
Under very challenging weather conditions our group of 11 dedicated birders left the NYC Audubon headquarters at 9am. It
would rain off and on for the next two days making our trip difficult as a northeaster moved up the coast. The first thing I
did was to change the itinerary somewhat to keep our group as dry as possible. Instead of going immediately to the hawk
watch in Cape May we went to Brigantine where we birded the auto loop. At Brigantine we saw many birds from the van and
we also got out at appropriate times to view interesting species. The first birds seen were Northern Harriers as at least 3
flew very close to us. Special birds seen were many Snow Geese including one Blue Goose. We witnessed a Merlin on the
ground feasting on a passerine or more likely a Dunlin. The number of Dunlin probably exceeded 10,000. The shorebirds
were constantly harassed by Peregrine Falcons and Merlins. Northern Pintails provided excellent views. All four of the
regular gull species were seen. At one time two Forsterís Terns flew right next to our van but they seemed immobile as they
fought against the wind but didnít make any progress. This provided excellent views for our group. Just as we left the park
and crossed the exit bridge we saw both Blue-winged Teal and a very impressive Wood Duck. After spending about three
hours in this venue we left and headed towards our Hotel, the Ocean Holiday, in Wildwood Crest.
After checking in at the hotel and taking a short break we were on the road again. This time we headed for Nummy Island.
The rain had stopped, at least momentarily, and we were able to exit the van. At exactly ten minutes after sunset many
Black-crowned Night Herons left their day time roost and headed out to feed. It was a very impressive sight. We left this
area and headed towards the Lobster House where we would have a leisurely dinner.
I wanted to bird the beach just at sunrise but the weather prevented this. We went to WAWA and had an excellent breakfast.
I really enjoyed this new store as it was computerized and the food was far above expectations. I set the Tom-Tom for
Higbee Field and we arrived there just after 8am. There were hardly any other birders there. Hard to believe but the
number of birds was extremely high. Best of all was that after about one half hour the rain stopped and we would be
basically dry for the rest of our trip. The storm must have forced birds down as they were all around us. One tree held 10
Yellow-rumped Warblers and there were many trees like this. Swamp Sparrows could be found almost anywhere you
looked. Species diversity was not high but the number of birds was very high. Everywhere you looked you saw a bird.
Merlins, Peregrines, Cooperís Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks were constantly seen as they buzzed through the flocks of
migrants. It was a real fallout. Of special note was an adult White-crowned Sparrow which gave everyone excellent looks.
One grassland field had a somewhat cooperative Meadowlark. Everyone got good views. We stayed in Higbee Field about
three hours. I again changed the route to take advantage of the weather and we went right to the Hawk Watch Platform.
The number of Hawks flying over was very high. We saw Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine, Sharp-shinned, and Cooperís Hawks.
Sometimes three or four flew over at a time. An immature Bald Eagle flew over. The most interesting bird seen from the
platform was an American Avocet. The bird was in the small pond in front of the platform. We put the scope on the bird and
everyone had excellent views. The temperature on the platform was about 45 degrees and with the wind it felt colder than
that. We didnít stay too long at this location as we had basically seen all the hawk species that can be expected. We went to
the NJ Audubon/Cape May Bird Observatory (CMBO) for a break and a chance to pick up some books and souvenirs.
After leaving CMBO we picked up lunch and were on the road again, this time heading for Jakes Landing. Wind and
drizzle made this venue difficult. We saw numerous Savannah Sparrows, Egrets and a Marsh Hawk. We could not locate
any Seaside or Saltmarsh Sparrows which are known to winter here. We left this venue, set the Tom-Tom for NYC and
after one stop along the way we arrived back at 23rd St. at 6pm. Believe it or not we actually saw more species on this damp
trip than on the two previous dry NYC Audubon Cape May trips.
Great Blue Heron
American Black Duck
Great Black-backed Gull
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Species seen - 78