Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
Date: Sept. 26-27, 2015
Location: Cape May Birding Trip
Reported by: Joe Giunta
Our group of 10 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 very poor as we faced east-north-east winds at over 20 miles per hour. From the hawk watch platform we only recorded three hawk species: Merlin, Osprey and one Sharp-shinned Hawk. We did better in the “bunker ponds” that are in front of the platform. Here we saw: Blue-winged Teal, Pintail, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret and best of all a male Eurasian Wigeon. Walking around the trails between ponds we had excellent views of a Green Heron.
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. At this venue the birding was much better. We saw: Marbled Godwit, a lifer for many, Tri-colored Heron, Little Blue Heron, over 30 Snowy Egrets and finally some of us saw a swimming Clapper Rail. Also present and seen by all were both Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night Herons. In the marsh mixed in with 30 or so Greater Yellow-legs were four Long-billed Dowitchers. I am liking this venue more and more as they have an excellent metal boardwalk that extends into the salt marsh for close viewing. 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 about 40 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 Crab House in Wildwood. The food was very good and there was no wait.
The next morning we were on the beach at 6:30am for sunrise over the ocean. The strong winds combined with high tide and a full moon made for difficult viewing. We could only go halfway to the ocean as the tide came up and made several areas muddy and with huge puddles. The first bird seen was a Peregrine Falcon as he flew by us hunting just at the shoreline. Also present were a good number of Sanderlings with at least two Black-bellied Plovers. 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 were wrong for land bird migration. We recorded zero (0) warblers! This was from a spot where a few days ago (Sept. 23, 2015) 50,000 warblers were reported. The platform had only a flyover Common Loon. We walked the fields at Higbee and we were out of the wind. Still no warblers yet we did have excellent looks a two immature Bald Eagles. Also visible were Turkey Vultures, Sharp-shinned Hawk and numerous Osprey. One Osprey had captured a fish and he was pursued for a time by one of the Bald Eagles. 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. At their feeders we got good looks at a Carolina Chickadee. 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. The hawk watching was better today. We recorded: Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks, all three falcons (Peregrine, Merlin, American Kestrel), Osprey, both Vultures (Black and Turkey). We left the platform and walked the “red” trail through the woods. Again-no warblers… the winds were wrong. We did have nice views of Green Heron and Blue-winged Teal. We left Cape May Point SP, picked up some sandwiches and headed towards our last venue, Jakes Landing. This venue could be great for sparrows as well as hawks. We did see another Bald Eagle (immature), two Northern Harriers, and a good view of a Belted Kingfisher. The marsh sparrows did not appear for us but we did see two Savannah Sparrows. It started to get late so I set the Tom-Tom for NYC. With one stop along the way we were back at 23rd St at 6:15pm. It was a good trip with many good birds and the making of new birding friends.
66 SPECIES SEEN
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Great Black-backed Gull
Species seen - 66