Once the sun came out, the Cape came alive with migrating birds. Sunday morning, we all got up super early and went to Higbee Beach, which was just crawling with songbirds and hawks. That’s where we stood in the same spot for almost a half hour watching dozens of birds flit around, including this cooperative palm warbler:
Walking back to the cars, I saw this bumper sticker:
After that, we went back to the hawk platform at Cape May Point and saw some freshly banded sharpies, a kestrel, and a red-tailed hawk. It was awe-inspiring to see these great hunters up close! They were all so beautiful and powerful. Sadly, I didn’t get any good photos, but Susan and Laura did so check out their posts.
After that, we walked through the marshes on their very nice boardwalk, and I remembered the last time I’d been there: with Kat in February, when it was FREEZING.
Look at this beautiful mockingbird; he was as interested in us as we were in him:
His expression reminds me of this lolcat.
Northern shovellers, way in the distance:
Even from all the way across the pond (not that pond), I could see their huge bills—like Daffy Duck’s bill.
Also got a lifer in the butterfly category, a buckeye:
As I said in my previous post, I didn’t get many pictures on Sunday because I was having battery trouble the whole time, despite having bought new rechargeable batteries on my way to the Cape. I hope they just need a little seasoning and will soon hold a charge longer than ten minutes.
After this we went for lunch and then took Birdchick and Jay from birdjam to the 2nd Avenue jetties, where we saw terns, gulls, and black skimmers. (by now the batts were dead, so no photos) I helped a really nice Canadian woman by IDing the shorebirds for her, confessing that I only knew them all because Birdchick and Laura had already IDd them.
I stood there for a while, watching the ocean waves and wishing Kat had been there with me to see the beach. She and I both love the ocean and hope to move closer to it when she’s done with her PhD (only a year and half to go!). Then, after saying my goodbyes, I got in the car and drove home. What a melancholy experience that was!
I can’t wait to get out in the field again; I’ll probably go on a field trip this weekend to Bald Eagle State Park, where I’ve been only once before. I feel like I’m a better birder now, having seen so many shorebirds and marshbirds in New Jersey. I have a certain confidence that wasn't necessarily there before, along with even more fervor for getting out into the field. All this leaves me wondering: Am I still a beginner? I hope so.
I might just see a few more lifers out there, as the field trip leader (from the State College Birding Club) says we might see some more peeps, some red-shouldered hawks, and maybe some ducks that I haven’t yet seen.
I have a ton of calculus homework to do tonight, but tomorrow night I'm going to start reading Kingbird Highway. I'm really looking forward to reading about what makes a birder "extreme."