Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cape May to West Cumberland County Birding

By Luke Musher
American Oystercatcher, Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge, Cape May, NJ
I went birding today with Nick Tolopka, whom I work with on the shorebird banding project for Dr. David Mizrahi at NJ Audubon.  We drove down the bay shore looking for shorebirds, but no Red Knots at either Reeds or Kimbles Beach.  At Reed's Beach there were lots of Sanderling and Dunlin, though, along with, oddly enough, two Snow Geese, one adult and one juvenal, on the jetty.

We then drove down to Cape May where we stopped at the point and the Meadows.  Still lot's of swallows around the area, mostly Barns, but all expected species were present.  We couldn't seem to find any Piping Plovers on the beach (but they're certainly there), but had great views of several American Oystercatchers.  Not much of note around Cape Island, and the wind was strong and cold so we decided to head north.
American Oystercatcher, Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge, Cape May, NJ
We drove up to Stone Harbor passing through Wildwood and Nummy Island.  In Wildwood a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron flew over the car, and then we stopped by a spot where they've been nesting for a few years.  Nummy Island was relatively quiet, as was Stone Harbor.  We weren't there long, but the only shorebirds we could find at Stone Harbor were Sanderling, Dunlin, and Semipalmated Sandpipers.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Wildwood Crest, NJ
Mixed Shorebirds, Stone Harbor, NJ
To top the morning off we followed up a KeeKeeKerr alert for an American Golden-Plover (thanks to Brian Johnson for posting) on Shep Davis Road in Cumberland county.  I needed it for the year, and Nick for life, so we head over to try our luck.  We drove down the few miles of road, checking every inch of farmland (at least trying to), but had no luck.  We got literally to the end of the road and noticed a Killdeer flying around and calling above a large grassy field on the edge of a recently harvested asparagus field.  We scanned the grassy area hard and eventually turned up two large plovers very far away.  I got out to scope and walked a little closer.  As I walked out though, I flushed about 5 or so Black-bellied Plovers that we had somehow missed when scanning.  I had at least one American Golden-Plover in the fields, and possibly two.  I have distant, crappy photos of the second bird, that I am fairly sure is another one, but I'm not positive that it is.  If anyone wants to see the photos and give an opinion, email me (
Black-bellied Plovers, Shep Davis Rd., Cumberland Co., NJ
American Golden-Plover, Shep Davis Rd., Cumberland Co., NJ
 On our way back we stopped briefly at Turkey Point,  but the tide was high so we didn't stay long.
Willet, Turkey Point, Dividing Creek, NJ 
Sure, Herring Gulls are a "Trash Bird," but you have to admit that they can look pretty stunning from time to time.

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