With great anticipation and excitement, our small flock of Delaware Dunlins arrived in Cape May on Sunday morning ready for a grand tour of one of the best birding locations in the whole world.
Starting out on the Cape May Hawk Watch platform, we saw lots of raptors flying by: Osprey, Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks, and those perpetual crowd-pleasers, the Merlins and Kestrels. At one point we could see 17 Kestrels and 6 Merlins zipping around the marsh, catching dragonflies and eating them while in mid-flight!
A tour of the boardwalk in the state park brought more excellent encounters. Arun squeaked in a flock of five Yellow Warblers with his special Audubon bird call. Flocks of Eastern Kingbirds perched atop the cedar trees, chasing every insect that flew by. At Lighthouse Pond, we had great sightings of Caspian Tern, Gadwall, Green Heron, and Great Egret.
At the legendary South Cape May Meadows we found Palm Warblers, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, and Northern Pintails. A Black Skimmer sliced the water with is special long bill, hoping to snap up a small fish. What a sharp-looking bird! Dominic counted up on our checklist and we couldn’t believe it: after just 5 hours of birding in mid-day, we’d seen 76 species of birds! But the best bird of the day was yet to come….
We drove north off of Cape Island, to a unique place on the water known as Two Mile Landing. Setting up spotting scopes, our Dunlins scanned across the bay. And there, perched on a wooden pole on the far side of the water, was a Brown Booby! This incredible bird is normally found in the tropics, feeding in the warm open ocean waters. For some reason, this bird ended up in New Jersey, where it has been hanging out for the past month.
Hundreds of birders flocked to see the booby, and of course this is a Life Bird for everyone. A new bird for our lists! Can you see how excited the Dunlins are to see the Brown Booby?!
Along with Least Tern, Clapper Rail, and an American Oystercatcher seen at this spot, we had reached 80 species! Our 6-hour tour was over, but we probably could have birded for another 24 hours. That’s what the thrill of Cape May birding does to birders!
We invite you to view the special video featuring the highlights of a weekend spent appreciating the wonders of Cape May, during the Delaware Dunlins trip and the DOS trip the previous day: Cape May Birding Highlights
Hope you can join us next time for a trip to see the incredible birds at Cape May, NJ!
* Brown Booby photo courtesy of Stephanie Seymour