Tuesday, June 5, 2012

More Life Birds from Cape May

I arrived in Cape May for the Maygration Birding Festival mid afternoon on a beautiful day. I was unpacking my rental car when a very vocal crow dropped from the roof and flew off. A Fish Crow! A life bird for me.  Instead of the customary cawing the bird's nasal twang was unmistakable. It's like being in a foreign country.  Although they are a different species of crows Fish Crows (Corvus ossifragus) are indistinguishable from American Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) except when seen side by side: they are little bit smaller and their beak is a bit blunter at the tip. To start off with a life bird I thought was a good omen. 


I soon discovered that the hotel I was staying at was on the "wrong" side of Cape May, away from most of the festival activities. It was facing the beach and was surrounded by blindingly white million dollar summer homes as yet unoccupied and was far removed from any stores or restaurants. The streets and sidewalks were empty except for the ocean fishermen parked along the beach side. One advantage though:  no bugs! The biting gnats can be a real problem along the back waters. They appear after a few minutes and cluster thickly around you, so that you want to cover every skin surface except the eyes. 


These are my other lifers: 


Seaside Sparrow, an inhabitant of the marshes of the Atlantic and Gulf coast




Marsh Wren, an impressive singer usually deep in the cat tails only occasionally and very briefly coming to the surface


Blue Grosbeak, larger than the Indigo Bunting, mostly found in the south eastern Atlantic states, distinguished from Indigo Bunting by larger size, larger beak and rust colored slashes on wings.







Clapper Rail, skulking through the cat tails and easily missed. This bird is taking  bath in one of the channels created by low tide.




Forster's Tern, common here but pretty rare in New England



And lastly a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a common breeder in NE but one I have always managed to miss. This brought my lifetime tally up to 300. 


My next and last post on Cape May will be on a - presumed -  border dispute among Piping Plovers, a Purple Martin colony, several more shorebirds and of course the signature bird of coastal regions, the Osprey.



  Happy Birding!





24 comments:

  1. that blue grosbeak is gorgeous! love the wren doing the splits, too. :)

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  2. Fun post, Hilke! Glad you were able to add so many new lifers! I really want to visit Cape May...your posts are making it more enticing!! :-) My parents were there a few years ago during migration and said I really need to visit it.

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  3. Lots of singing going on, I love them all!!

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  4. Great series!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  5. A great serie of shots!
    Lovely to see!

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  6. What an interesting group of birds you posted today! Thanks!

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  7. Congratulations on all of your new birds Hilke! You were really ringing em' in!

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  8. Great photos and it sounds like a terrific place to see all those birds.

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  9. So many beautiful birds seen at Cape May! Congratulations on all of the lifers! Love the gorgeous Blue Grosbeak and the stunning Seaside Sparrow, all are wonderful though.

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  10. Great post and congrats on your lifers. I love Cape May! The festival must have been fun. The Grosbeak is one of my favorites but the rail is a cool sighting. Happy Birding!

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  11. Nice captures. I love the shots of the little Seaside Sparrow. The Blue Grosbeak is a beautiful bird.

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  12. Great shots of all the beautiful birds.
    The Blue Grosbeak is gorgeous.

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  13. First off congratulation on hitting 300! The seaside sparrow catches are my favorites! I can't wait to hear about the Piping plover - Purple martin dispute!
    Cheers!

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  14. Hi Hilke

    A great post I really liked the Seaside Sparrow and the Blue Grosbeak.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Guy

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  15. Wonderful set of birds - it would be a red letter day if I saw one of them!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Australia

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  16. Some fantastic birds here that I can only dream of seeing. Great shots.

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  17. great shots of so many amazing and colorful birds...you certainly found the spot to view them all!!

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  18. Hi there - that’s a good question about the emu feathers - I think the answer is that they do almost nothing at all!

    Cheers - Stewart M

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  19. Hilke, I love your capture of the Seaside Sparrow singing!
    Blue Grosbeaks are special...glad you have them in your area.:)

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  20. So many additions to your life list! Congratulations!

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  21. Hilke, what a trip and congrats on all the lifers! Wow! isn't that exciting! It's always a trill to add new birds to one's Life List!

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