Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
Date: Sept. 29-30, 2012
Location: Cape May Birding Trip
Reported by: Joe Giunta
Our group of 10 birders started the trip at 9:00am on Saturday morning. Leaving from the Audubon Center on 23rd St. we took the van, making one stop along the way, and arrived at the Cape May Point State Park at about 12:30pm. This is the location of the world famous hawk watch. The weather conditions were good for a hawk flight. The first bird seen was an immature Bald Eagle. The bird flew right over the hawk platform. Within the next two hours we would see numerous Sharp-shinned, Cooper’s, Harriers and Broad-winged Hawks. We would also see a good number of falcons including Merlins, Peregrines and Kestrels. Seeing these birds made for good ID practice. We also saw a few duck species, egrets and herons from the platform. After about two hours on the platform we walked the ponds on the ocean side. Here we saw some migrating Palm Warblers. We also had excellent views of an Iceland Gull.
We left this venue and headed towards our motel, the Acacia. Our group made a stop just before turning into the hotel. We explored a marshy area that had potential for shorebirds but we only turned up Great Egrets. The motel was very pleasant and its location right on the ocean made for a nice environment. We checked in and almost immediately left for our next venue which was the Wetlands Institute at Stone Harbor. Here we saw some Greater Yellowlegs and a Little Blue Heron. Also very nice was a Royal Tern which flew right over our group. We then went to Nummy Island to see the flyout of Night Herons. About six Black-crowned Night-Herons flew out as we witnessed the sun set in the west and the full moon rise in the east. It was a very nice experience. Next was dinner so we drove to the Lobster House which was back near our hotel.
The next morning we were on the beach at 6:30am for sunrise over the ocean. We saw three dolphins on the ocean about 100 yards out. They were swimming through an area that must have contained many fish as terns, cormorants and gulls were also in the area in very big numbers. We also had a ‘Wild America’ episode as two Peregrine Falcons were hunting birds along the shoreline. In particular they were chasing migrating flickers. The first flicker they pursued escaped by flying into the protection of a nearby building but the second flicker was picked right out of the air as the peregrines performed a pincer movement. The flicker didn’t have a chance. After about one half hour we checked out of the hotel, picked up coffee and breakfast items and headed towards the warbler platform of Higbee Field. The warbler flight was good and we would see nine warbler species in and around Higbee Field. We also had fair views of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. We left Higbee Field and headed towards the CMBO (Cape May Bird Observatory) visitor’s center/nature store. While at the visitor’s we got information about a rarity that was being seen near the hawk platform back at Cape May State Park. That was our next stop anyway so we headed there with a little haste. At the concrete bunker next to the hawk platform we saw a Say’s Phoebe, a very rare bird for Eastern U.S. It was ‘lifer’ for most everyone. We saw more hawks and falcons but no new species. We left the tower and explored the trails and ponds on the landward side the tower. In this area there were numerous warblers and vireos for us to test our ID skills. We also had a mixed kettle of Turkey Vultures, Black Vultures and Broad-winged Hawks.
We left Cape May Point SP, picked up some sandwiches and headed towards our last venue, Jakes Landing. This spot is known for sparrows and rails. In the winter time it’s a great spot for owls, especially Short-eared Owls. We tried to call in both the Seaside and Saltmarsh sparrows but we struck out on both. We did have nice views of a perched Merlin and good views of a flyover Red-tailed Hawk. It was our only one for the trip. It was getting late so we got back in the van and set the Tom-Tom for NYC. We were escorted out of the park by a small flock of Palm Warblers. They seemed to say “Glad you had a nice time, come back again next year”. We forced ourselves to leave this spot and head back to the city. We exited the van at 23rd St, NYC, a little after 7pm. A great trip had by all!
A photo history of the trip can be found at:
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Great Black-backed Gull
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Species seen - 82