Raiding my brother’s garden

I made a late morning visit to my brother’s house; I wasn’t really expecting to find him at home, but

the welcoming crew assembled to greet me as I stepped from the car…

and the garden sentry was especially suspicious of my motives,

but look at the bounty he’s charged with safeguarding!

I nearly tripped over this young member of the pest control crew…
(what funny curly feathers, btw!)

but this was my prize!
So Kev, those couple perfectly ripe tomatoes you thought the squirrels had stolen…
that was me!
; )

Cape May lineup

Are you in?

So far there’s just Susan, Delia and me.


That’s a very small Flock.

BT3 is speaking on Saturday night.

There’s the Hawkwatch and the Seawatch at Avalon.

Heck… there’s Sandy Hook on the way from the airport.

The Fall Weekend at Cape May isn’t anything like the New River Festival or Potholes and Prairies, but this isn’t West Virginia or North Dakota. What NJ might lack in charm or hospitality, it makes up for in birds.

; )

And high prices, I know.

Don’t let the registration fees dissuade you. Come for a day or an afternoon, even.

We’re making it more affordable this year by staying together in some ramshackle hotel and only paying for a day’s worth of programs. We’ll spend the rest of the weekend wandering on our own, making up bird ID’s and laughing together.

Sounds fun, no?

It’s Cape May… THE birding destination. You know it’s on your list for “someday”… why not make it this year?

The Flock would love to have you join us.

Nap time

A special treat of late summer in Cape May is the flock of Black Skimmers and Royal Terns that rest and spend the daylight hours half asleep, crowded beside each other on the beach near the 2nd Ave. jetty.

They present a curious site to beach-goers, I imagine, and always make me chuckle at just how relaxed a posture many take. How often do we get to see birds sleeping, after all?

: )

Some Sandy Hook birds

I wandered out the fisherman’s trail at Sandy Hook late this afternoon, mainly to see the flock of Black Skimmers that nested there – for the first time in 25 years – but also just to enjoy some time alone. The day was perfect; warm and breezy and the throngs of beach-goers were heading in the opposite direction from me. I had the beach to myself, save for the fishermen and a couple other birders.

A couple Ruddy Turnstones wandered by and had a bath as the tide rose around us. Turnstones seem nearly as tame as the Sanderlings, yet they’re much more gregarious.

Funny that I’m slowly learning the temperaments of shorebirds, even if I can’t identify them most of the time!

The terns here at Sandy Hook seem like they’re mostly done with feeding young, but still are spending a lot of time flying around, calling, with fish in their bills. Maybe parenthood is a hard habit to break. Maybe this fish was a bit too big and it was calling as an invitation to share.

A mystery for another summer, I guess.

The Black Skimmer colony is a joy… a finely choreographed chaos of long-winged birds and enough barking to drown out the sounds of the surf. Just amazing!

I couldn’t get anywhere near as close as to those in yesterday’s post (of the flock at the 2nd Ave. jetty in Cape May) but this is an active colony, with young birds not yet able to fly. By mistake I scared a couple fuzzy chicks out from their hiding spots behind bits of driftwood… that was enough to stop me in my tracks.

This pic is sweet, I think, because it shows the way that improbable bill of theirs lengthens and develops color as they age. The oldest bird, on the far left, was able to fly… the others not. I saw a couple that looked younger than even that one on the far right.

I feel very blessed that we have them breeding so close to home and hope they’ll be back at Sandy Hook next summer…

Always there’s one little Sanderling and I; this one almost too close for my camera.

: )

Here’s hoping your Labor Day was filled with similar pleasures.

How to: be happy no matter what

Say yes to a ridiculous idea.

Inhale deeply the scent of a beloved pet.

Walk barefoot on the beach.

Remember all the times you never thought you’d make it this far.

Ask a small child to help you paint your toenails.

Dance to that one song…

Take a nap.

Do something creative.

Have something wonderful read aloud to you.

Wear a shortish dress to show off your long legs. Accept all compliments graciously and with a wide smile.

Treat yourself. Maybe to ice-cream. Or fresh flowers.

Give away love everywhere and any way you can.

Go to the farmer’s market and buy a pint of strawberries, then eat them quietly in your living room when you are all by yourself.

Make funny faces at very small children when their parents aren’t looking.

Work out. Not to be skinny, but because becoming strong will make you feel powerful and confident in so many other ways.

Show up even if you don’t know what to say.

Water the garden.

Take time off. Travel. Meet strangers where and how they live; get a larger perspective of the world and its people and your place in it.

Read an old love letter as a reminder that you have been adored.

Sit with the ocean or under a huge old oak.

Want what you want just because you want it.

Compliment a total stranger.

Buy one bar of lovely dark chocolate and eat one tiny square a day like it is the secret to life and liberty.

– – – – – – – – – – –

Care to add to the list? What makes you happy no matter what? Let’s make a list we just can’t help but love!

A Jersey stare down

: )

The 7th Annual New Jersey Meadowlands Festival of Birding is scheduled for next weekend, September 11 and 12th. An urban oasis, the NJ Meadowlands is made up of more than 8,000 acres of wetland habitat and is home to better than 280 species of birds. A designated Important Bird & Birding Area, much of the prime birding habitat is situated on reclaimed landfill sites.

Richard Crossley, the author of The Shorebird Guide, is giving the keynote.

Maybe I’ll get him to sign my book, finally.

; )

Hope to see you there!

The birds of summer

Sweet Summer…
don’t end!
You bring me beach plums
purple under a September sun,

but you take the osprey
and the huge folded serenity of the egret.
The beach is more deserted every day
and the skies bluer, the shapes of clouds more bewitching

but it’s too quiet!
A beach without laughing gulls is a sin against nature.
Well not really, but go with me on this people!!
; )
Summer is for sandcastles and buried treasure and sunburned shoulders;
laughing gulls animate the quiet between the tides.
Goldenrod and monarch butterflies populate the dunes
and the moon is heavy and yellow when it rises out of the surf,

but terns and swallows and kingbirds are departing
massing further south, out of earshot.
I’ll miss them this winter.
The peeps, in all their feathered mystery, have been leaving since mid-July.
They come, in May, with colored finery and leave, too soon, in a confusing camouflaged rush.

They all look the same… I can’t tell them apart
and don’t care to, really.
Maybe if I had more time to learn them.
One more day is all I need, for sure.
Summer… don’t end!