Friday, October 27, 2006

Cape May Friday Pt. 1

I took a 2.5 hour road trip down to Cape May today for day 1 of the annual Cape May Fall Weekend. I've been birding seriously for over 6 years and I've never actually gone to this event. I've always heard it was a "zoo". I usually go to Cape May the weekend after the Fall Weekend with a friend of mine. This year I decided I wanted to go to the "Bird Show", the vendor showcase at the Fall Weekend. I had heard that some fellow bloggers were going to be there and I also wanted to check out the vendors.

I started my birding at Cape May Point State Park, the site of their famous hawkwatch. It was a little early in the AM for the flight to start up, but that didn't stop a bunch of Sharpies and Harriers from circling around us. We also had several species of Sparrow around the platform including Swamp, Song, White-throated and White-crowned.

The famed Lighthouse Pond always attracts some nice birds. Today it attracted lots of Coots, some Shovelers, Green-winged Teal, and Hooded Mergansers among others.

Birders gather on the platform in anticipation of the hawk flight, which didn't really materialize today due to a northeast wind. Northwest is usually best for hawks at Cape May.

I headed over to the the South Cape May Meadows. This is a favorite spot of mine due to its varied habitats. Yellow-rumped Warblers were thick as thieves here. They were covering every shrub, twig, and rock in sight. I've never seen so many. After watching lots of ducks foraging on the ponds, I was delighted to see a small group of Snow Geese soaring overhead, a group of Royal Terns and a Peregrine Falcon.

The real treat at the Meadows came on the way out. In a small marshy area, I found this supremely abiding Virginia Rail. It was quite busy turning over twigs and munching on something. It wasn't alone. There was a Snipe not 2 feet away. They even chased each other around a bit. I even got to show the Rail to a few birders.

I headed over to the "Bird Show". There were tour companies, lodges, magazines, lots of optics, tons of amazing art (more in a future post), raptors and lots of books. The highlight for me was meeting fellow bloggers Amy Hooper (Wildbird on the Fly) and Sharon Stiteler (Birdchick). I had a great time meeting them and chatting about birds, birding, and life in general. I'm sure our paths will cross again at a future festival.

I got Amy to pose with her festive rubber duck "mummy". She had quite a collection of duckies there.

I met Birdchick and I got $10 for filling out her survey! I tried my best not to "pish" her off. No clue who the guy in the background is...

More from my Cape May day tomorrow...


LauraHinNJ said...

Hey, I did that same survey for free!

The Birdchick said they had run out of money. ;-(

I didn't see the hoards of people I expected - maybe the crappy weather kept them all inside their hotels.

Patrick Belardo said...

I'm not surprised they ran out of money. Who would pass up $10? Actually, I tried to give it back but they insisted I take it.

It was not very crowded when I was there either. I saw some large groups out birding, but the "show" was quiet.