Just like last year’s Autumn Weekend, I only got one life bird this time. Most anything is more exciting than last year’s Rusty Blackbird, but this year’s was an especially good bird… one I’ve missed so many times. It wasn’t a really satisfying look, but I finally got a Golden Eagle at the hawk watch on Monday! It seemed to get much birdier after everyone had left for home… there was a Bald Eagle, too, and a Peregrine that put on a nice show and some Sharpie’s and Cooper’s Hawks and a Harrier also. In year’s past I’ve spent most of the weekend just hanging out at the hawk watch in the state park; most everyone shows up there at some point and it’s a nice place to catch up with friends and see what hawks happen by.
All of the birds we saw this weekend were common ones for me, but birding with people from out of state makes me appreciate even more what NJ has to offer. It’s occurred to me in the last year that if I hope to ever see new birds, I need to travel. Of course, there’s plenty of life birds just waiting for me offshore, but there’s that whole fear of seasickness thing that keeps me from ever doing a pelagic trip.
Anyway… here’s some pics that I’m not too embarrassed to share. Something else that’s occurred to me from this weekend… I have serious camera envy and need to come up with some way of managing better bird pics.
Further evidence of my on-going love affair with the ubiquitous sanderling… even sleepy ones. I have so many pics of Sanderlings. They’re such fun to watch, the sweet way they run ahead of the waves and sleep on one foot and hop away on one foot if you wake them. Sunday night there was a lone sanderling that kept us company while we watched the sunset. I guess they’ll feed at the ocean’s edge even past dark.
Not a common bird by far and always nice to see… a Peregrine that had been enjoying a meal on an osprey platform somewhere in the middle of the intracoastal waterway. I thought Susan might wet her pants when we spotted this one on our boat trip… her first *wild* Peregrine. I’ve learned to look for them in what counts as high places here at the shore; bridges, water towers, the tall casinos at Atlantic City, the railings on lighthouses.
A Great Egret, sans the yellow slippers, being difficult and shy. I hear that there’s places where these birds don’t automatically fly off whenever you point a camera lens at them, but I don’t believe it. I love this pic anyway.
Ah. A Common Loon… one bird that I was excited to see and Lynne was bored with. She gets to see them in the summer when they’re all pretty and spotted nicely. I was glad to see just the remainders of their beautiful breeding plumage. In the winter they look so darn gray.
Part of the flock of Black Skimmers that rests on the beach somewhere between the Convention Hall and the Second Avenue Jetty in Cape May in the fall. I love walking the beach to find them. It was neat to watch them feeding in the ocean with the terns; closer to home they feed in the bay or course along the quiet creeks and usually I see just a couple at a time.
I almost got all of a Brant in this pic, our winter sea goose. They’ve just begun to arrive in the last couple weeks from their breeding grounds in the Arctic and I love to hear their peculiar barking call across the water because it means that all the pretty winter ducks will be arriving soon, too.
Oystercatcher! I never get enough of seeing these guys… there were a couple dozen feeding with Dunlin and Black-bellied Plovers on a sandbar. We had really nice looks (and the chance to listen to the sweet music of a mixed flock of shorebirds) while our boat’s propeller was snagged on a crab trap in the marsh.
Lynne’s favorite birds were about in full force this weekend… we even tried to turn one perched on an osprey platform into a Bald Eagle. I was surprised to see Turkey Vultures in the salt marsh, but I guess they like the sweet smell of rotting vegetation, too.
Have you not read EVERYWHERE how I love the smell of a salt marsh? My flock friends thought that smell was unpleasant. Pfft! Smells like home to me. You Mid-Westerners can keep your pure air.
By the way, if you don’t have occasion to read Susan’s blog, please stop by for this post, at least, and a video of what was probably the funniest moment of the whole weekend.
A nice group of Forster’s Terns hangs out with the Skimmers and Sanderlings at the beach. Funny that I have trouble recognizing them in their winter wardrobe when it changes every year. We never found any Royal’s or Caspian’s, but I’m sure they were around somewhere.
I wish I had pics of that Golden or the Scoters at the Sea Watch at Avalon to share; maybe someday my camera envy will get the better of me and I’ll cave for a point and shoot with a really powerful zoom.