Skip to main content

Some Cape May birds

Took a whirlwind trip around quaint Cape May, New Jersey last Saturday, and saw lots of interesting flora and fauna. It wouldn't be possible to visit and NOT see interesting things. As usual, many megs of photos were taken, but I wanted to share a few classic birds of the beach. Spent a fair bit of time botanizing - there is some very cool halophytic (salt-adapted) flora there, and I got some nice shots of some of it. More on that later, perhaps.

Speaking of plants, it was somewhat depressing to see how badly non-native species have taken over some of the habitats in Cape May. Weeds like Porcelain-berry, Ampelopsis brevipedunculata, and Japanese Knotweed, Polygonum cuspidatum, cover vast swaths of great migratory bird habitat. Anyone who doubts the ecological damage that these vegetative pests can do need only pay a visit to a place like Cape May.Beachfront Cape May with the famed lighthouse off in the yonder. This area is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy, and is one of the best remaining oceanside habitats.
Royal Terns abound on the beach. Here, a squawking juvenile begs for food. Like Caspian Terns, the young of this species follow the adults around long after being fledged, demanding handouts from the long-suffering adults.It was nice to see these diminutive little Fish Crows, and hear their odd laughing snorts. American Crows were also about; the size difference between the two is conspicuous. Fish Crows are coastal in distribution, ranging up the Mississippi Valley. They should eventually be turn up along the Ohio River in Ohio. This one had a cheese puff or something probably equally unhealthy. Crows are not noted for discerning palates.


Plenty of Black Skimmers were around. The Nature Conservancy protects large areas of beach, to improve nesting success of this species along with Piping Plovers and Least Terns.

Black Skimmers are wild-looking birds. They even attract the attention of non-birders. While photographing them, I was approached by some people who wondered what they were. They kind of look like little street toughs, wearing hoodies pulled down low over their eyes. Their bill is a marvel of evolution. Skimmers skim: they fly along the water's surface, dipping the lower mandible in as they course along, thus snatching up tasty aquatic morsels.

Hope to share more on The Cape later.

Comments

KatDoc said…
Jim:

I am visiting Cape May for the autumn bird festival in Oct. It will be my first trip there, and I am totally psyched to see birds like these. Black Skimmers are my Number One target birds. I am also hoping for some sparrow species; what are the odds of Seaside or Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows?

I can't wait!

~Kathi
I love to see Black Skimmers. One of my favorite birds. They crack me up when they lay flat out on the beach. It just seems like an impossible, improbable position for a bird.
TWOMOONSEMBER said…
Jim!

Great birds and stuff from Cape May, but...GET HOME! You're gonna miss the Woods Storks!!! :)
Jim McCormac said…
Hi Kathi,

And sorry for the terribly slow reply. I am the world's worst blogger when it comes to following up on comments and contributing to them. Just slap me silly and call me willy. Anyway, I would think you would have a good shot at those sparrows. Best bet would be to ask someone like Kevin Karlson or birders at the Cape May Bird Observatory where the best oddds of finding them are. You'll love the place, and all of the Merlins and other cool birds!

Jim

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Ballooning spiders

Fear not, ye arachnophobes. The subject of this entry is indeed about spiders, but the star of the show is about as cute as a spider can get. And you'll want to know what we're about to learn...

On my recent West Virginia foray, we were strolling down a seldom-used lane, when a bright yellow object caught our eye. It was a goldenrod crab spider, Misumena vatia, on top of a post! Not only that, she - it is a girl - was acting extraordinarily goofy. The spider would stilt up as high as she could go on her legs, weave back and forth, jig side to side, and otherwise engage in what appeared to be spider break-dancing.

Click the pic for expansion, and you can see two columns of silk issuing from her spinnerets. This is an important point, as we set about determining what this non-web-making spider is doing.


So fixated was our spider on her task that she even rejected what would seem to me to be a perfectly scrumptious meal. This little caterpillar climbed rapidly up the post and dire…