Saturday, October 28, 2006

Cape May Friday Pt. 2

After visiting "The Bird Show", I headed back to Cape May Point State Park. The hawk flight was really non-existent and the hawk counter encouraged me to go to the Avalon Seawatch. The eastern component to the wind made this the place to be.

I embarked on the 15 mile drive north of Cape May to the town of Avalon. Avalon is a cool town with lots of nice houses, restaurants, and a great view of the ocean. Each year, CMBO sponsors a seawatch which is identical to a hawkwatch, but you count seabirds. Their totals each year range from 500,000 to close to 1,000,000 birds. The typical birds encountered at the Seawatch include Scoters, Loons, RB Mergansers, Bonaparte's Gulls, Double-crested and Great Cormorants, Northern Gannets, and several species of Tern. There are tons of rarities seen there yearly like Dovekie, Razorbill, Jaegers, and Shearwaters. I actually saw a Short-eared Owl migrating by on one visit a few years back.

This is the view from the Seawatch wall. The birds usually move from right to left (north to south). The rocks frequently house Purple Sandpipers and Ruddy Turnstones too.

When I arrived, a slow drizzle had begun - the kind that wets your binoculars just enough to be annoying. The weather didn't stop the birds or birders though. A dozen birders were there to witness huge numbers of birds moving through. Long lines of Double-crested Cormorants streamed by in the distance. From time to time, a line of Scoters would cruise by - all Surf Scoters and Black Scoters. Through my binoculars I could easily tell the two species apart. The "skunk head" of the Surf Scoter is easy to see even at a long distance. Many of the flocks of Scoters were joined by "interlopers", as my friend Pete says. These interlopers were Pintail, Scaup, Teal, and other ducks. Gannets of all ages soared over the sea and dove to feed to all of our excitement. You gotta love that bird! A few loons and terns added to the fun. I spent about 45 minutes here before heading home. I wish Avalon was a lot closer to me!


LauraHinNJ said...

I've only been to the seawatch once or twice and the weather is always lousy!

Sounds like you had a good day - it is a lot of driving, but worth it.

Patrick Belardo said...

Definitely worth it! That place does seem to attract bad weather though! Even in lousy weather, I always see interesting birds and get great views of them.