Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
Date: Sept. 27-28, 2014
Location: Cape May Birding Trip
Reported by: Joe Giunta
Our group of 12 NYC Audubon Birders left 23rd St. at 9am and headed towards the famous birding mecca of Cape May NJ. After about 3 and a half hours of driving, with a rest stop along the way, we arrived at the famous hawk watch platform of Cape May Point State Park. Conditions for migration were unfortunately poor as the temperature reached over 80 degrees, no clouds to force birds down and the winds were from the wrong direction. We were still able to see some nice birds. From the platform we recorded: Cooper’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine and Osprey. In front of the hawk platform were the “bunker ponds” and in those ponds we saw: Blue-winged Teal, Pintail, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret and some Least Sandpipers. After the platform we walked the trail between ponds and the ocean seeing some land birds and getting nice views of Black Skimmers.
After about three hours we left this area and headed towards our hotel, the Ocean View, in Wildwood Crest NJ. Dropping off our stuff and taking a short break we again boarded the van, this time headed towards the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor. In the parking lot of the Institute we had great views of a Bay-breasted Warbler. The bird was extremely cooperative so much so that we were able to put our scopes on the warbler and see many of the details of the bird. We took a walk around the back of the Institute where we were pleased to find that they had constructed a metal boardwalk that extended a good deal into the salt marsh. We got great looks at a Tri-colored Heron and Little Blue Heron (immature). We were also able to call in a Clapper Rail that remained mostly hidden yet very vocal. As the sun started to set we left the Institute and drove about 5 miles to Nummy Island and the fly-out of the Black-crowned Night Herons. We got there just at the right time and recorded a total of 39 herons leaving the daytime roost and going into the bays for nighttime feeding. A very nice and memorable sight. We left this spot and went to dinner at the Boathouse in Wildwood. The food was very good.
The next morning we were on the beach at 6:30am for sunrise over the ocean. First thing, a migrating Brown Thrasher flew in off the ocean and landed on the beach not far from us. The bird probably had flown all night and landed on the beach just as the sun started to come up. We were able to approach the bird fairly close as it was exhausted from its overnight journey. We saw some shorebirds not far from us and walked over to investigate. I was expecting to see Sanderlings and Dunlin but the birds turned out to be Semipalmated Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers. In the flock of sandpipers was one with a longer bill. This was a Western Sandpiper, the first time we had recorded this species on any of our Cape May trips. Over the ocean we saw two Royal Terns fly by. A nice way to start off our second day. We checked out of the hotel and headed for our breakfast place close by. By 8:30 we were on our way to the warbler platform at Higbee Beach. Again the winds and temperature were wrong for migration. The platform had only catbirds and flyover flickers. We walked the fields at Higbee finding: Brown Thrashers, Scarlet Tanager, Carolina Wren, and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. After about an hour and a half we left Higbee and went to CMBO (Cape May Bird Observatory) visitor center/nature store. They have feeders and water sprays but no birds on this day. I heard many people saying that you should have been here yesterday or tomorrow will be the day but for us on this day… nothing. We even went to the “magic tree” that had good birds in the past but today…nothing.
We left the CMBO and traveled back to the hawk platform. It was so warm that I think everyone went straight to the refreshment stand for lemon ices. At the platform we practiced our skills in ID-ing hawks as they flew over. We had nice views of American Kestrel. We left the platform and walked the “red” trail through the woods and ponds. We picked up: Solitary Sandpiper, Green Heron, Carolina Chickadee, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. No warblers… the winds were wrong. We left Cape May Point SP, picked up some sandwiches and headed towards our last venue, Jakes Landing. This venue could be great for marsh sparrows as well as hawks. As we got out of the van our first bird was a Clapper Rail that was fairly close. The bird flew up and back down into the salt marsh. We scoped two Harriers flying over the marsh and then our highlight at this location was a Seaside Sparrow that popped up and gave fair views. It was 3:15pm and I set the Tom-Tom for NYC. With one stop along the way we were back at 23rd St at 7pm to the minute. It was a great trip with many good birds and the making of new birding friends.
69 SPECIES SEEN
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Great Black-backed Gull
Species seen - 69