Saturday, October 02, 2010

Cape May - Saturday morning

Saturday morning we knew we had to be out promptly, before sunrise and preferably before dawn. We didn't quite make it but did get to watch a spectacular sunrise over the Ocean as we drove to our first stop, the Meadows in Cape May.

Initially the light was very weak so the only thing I could photograph was the moon:

If you click on the picture you can see some of the impact craters on the surface.

In the bushes and trees alongside the outward path, a female Northern Cardinal:

The third gull of the weekend, the Ring-billed Gull, was perched on the shoreline, amongst Greater-black Backed Gulls:

Over the sea a vocal Royal Tern pursued another Royal Tern that had food:

The Royal Tern was our first new bird of the holiday! On the path heading back to the car park, completing the circle, there's a viewing platform overlooking some ponds, where we saw a number of species, including Snowy Egret:

Long-billed Dowitcher:

Savannah Sparrow - these are a much darker bird than the ones we'd seen before in Washington State (see previous posts):

More Laughing Gulls, this one obliging:

Further back along the path, a female Red-winged Blackbird:

Browsing the exposed mud on the pools on the other side a Black-bellied (Grey) Plover:
And perched on the wires, a House Finch:

Next-up we joined a CMBO led walk around The Beanery, a working farm. We saw very little in the way of specific local birds, highlights being an American Kestrel:

Mourning Doves:

This sleepy bird had to move very quickly when a Merlin buzzed the tree, unsuccessfully seeking breakfast. It moved too fast for me though!
We enjoyed the walk but the group was a little too big, too noisy and too slow and it was disappointing to learn the farm is hunted with a big area set aside to lure in geese. Like so much of the USA it's very hard to accept just how much is slaughtered every year in places like this.
From the Beanery we headed back along the coast, past The Meadows and to a spit where we'd spotted a large group of birds from the distance.

On closer inspection it was a mixed flock of mainly Black Skimmers (foreground) and Royal Terns (to the rear):

The Black Skimmers were loafing, and showing a unique behaviour, the way they lie-down to rest their heavy bills:

People running along the beach and walking dogs regularly disturbed the birds:

Though they soon settled down again:

It was early but we were hungry so headed into Cape May to look for somewhere to eat and were delighted to find a vegetarian and vegan cafe, the Higher Grounds, were there was coffee, tea and a wholesome and very tasty lunch. The staff were very friendly too! We decided to fill-up, as for the afternoon we had a boat trip booked, which had morphed from a 2-hour trip to a 4-hour migration special.
If you do go to Cape May I thoroughly recommend taking the trip as it is accompanied by CMBO naturalists, who of course really do know their stuff. Bob the skipper is very helpful and we had a great time. Check out:

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