Images © Todd Klein.
This time of year animals are roaming, either looking for mates, or new food sources and territory. We get a good variety of birds coming to our bird feeders, but this one was a surprise, a lone hen Turkey! She looked over the yard carefully, watching the other birds at the feeders…
…then came into the back yard. If you’ve ever wondered where the dinosaurs went, watch one of these guys for a few minutes!
Soon she was pecking up sunflower seeds on the grass around the feeder.
The cats were not on the porch when the Turkey appeared, but before long, Tigger had spotted her. He seemed startled and a little afraid as they eyed each other. No wonder, the Turkey is much larger than Tigger!
Soon Leo had joined him, and the Turkey now began to make short nervous sounds. She circled the yard and then headed off into the woods. Perhaps she’ll be back, but Turkeys have a large territory, and usually travel in flocks, so I don’t know what this single was was doing here.
That was yesterday, today on a rainy Memorial Day there was a Box Turtle walking across the back yard in the rain. The cats and I watched it, too. It’s a regular zoo around here lately!
I’ve been participating in the New Jersey Audubon Society’s World Series of Birding event since 1988, when I first joined the Cape May Bird Observatory’s Century Run team. I’ve been part of that team for many of the intervening years. This year for the first time I was invited to join the planning committee of Team Captain Brian Moscatello, leaders Roger and Kathy Horn, and supporter Patti Domm. We met twice in the weeks before yesterday’s event, communicated often by email, and Roger, Kathy and I did lots of scouting for bird locations and planning of the route. Yesterday we came prepared with a Game Plan. Some of it worked, some had to be changed due to events and new information, but I think helping with the plans made it even more fun for me than ever. I had a great time.
THE PLAN: 5 AM, leave promptly by bus from our starting place in Cape May, drive directly to the Cape May Airport. 5:20 to 6 AM: bird near Airport runways and woods.
This worked perfectly. We got there at first light, when it was still dark enough for night bird Chuck-Wills-Widow to be calling, a bird we usually struggle with at the very end of the day. We also immediately got Horned Lark, which we expected, and Eastern Meadowlark, which we were not sure we’d find. We birded near the runways for those, then in the Airport Woods, above, where we got some unexpected songbirds like Hooded Warbler. Continue reading
…for the World Series of Birding tomorrow. Among other things, I’m bringing name tags I made for everyone (I’m one of eight leaders), and of course my camera and binoculars. Shortly I’ll be getting my gear and food together and prepped. Up tomorrow morning at 3 AM, at the meeting point in Cape May at 4:45, and our Big Day begins promptly at 5. So far the weather looks good and the prospects for lots of migrating birds is promising. I’ll have the full report here Sunday. If you’d like to look at our team page, it’s HERE.
Images © Todd Klein except as noted.
More scouting for the World Series of Birding the last few days, and I had time and opportunity to get a few good pictures. This Black-crowned Night-Heron was in Avalon on Tuesday. They are secretive, but once you find them, they tend to sit still. It also helps that they’re pretty large. As they are night feeders, most people who live near them never see them, or even know they exist. Continue reading
This weekend has been mostly about scouting birds and locations for the World Series of Birding next Saturday. I’ve done some scouting in the past, but this year I’m doing more as I’m part of the planning committee for our team. I volunteered to do scouting for the north half of Cape May County, our territory, while Roger and Kathy Horn are doing the south half. It’s fun, though not always easy. Sometimes when you want to soar with Eagles you have to work with Turkeys…or Turkey Vultures, as above, standing in my way en route to Stipson Island yesterday. He moved aside as I approached, and I did actually see a beautiful adult Bald Eagle there.
We’re trying a very different route and game plan this year, though the final route won’t be completely decided until the day before our Big Day, and might still change on the day, depending on how things go. Jakes Landing, above, as been our traditional last stop for many years. This year we might not get to it at all.
The many Marsh Wrens there won’t miss us. And we’ll be hearing and seeing others in a different place. Much of my scouting has been in Belleplain State Forest, which is fairly close to home for me, and I know it well. It’s been interesting over the last few weeks visiting the same areas and seeing/hearing the breeding birds arrive. Acadian Flycatcher has been the most elusive. I finally heard one Saturday morning in an unexpected place. This morning there were two in the usual spots, so they probably just arrived last night.
I also did some scouting on the Atlantic side of our county at places like Shell Bay Avenue, where Ellen and I found an amazing flock of over 30 Whimbrel, a large shorebird that we usually have a hard time finding and then only a few individuals. That’s the way it goes with birding. They move around. They often aren’t where you expect them. Sometimes you get a nice surprise like this. Will they be there on May 14th, when we need to count them for our fundraising efforts? Who knows! We always miss some species we thought would be easy, but we also usually get a few nice surprises, too.
One last appeal, New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory could use your help with this fundraiser. We’ll be trying to see as many different species as we can in one day. You can help by pledging any amount from 10 cents per species up. We hope to see about 130 species or so, thus a ten cent pledge would be about $13.00. Please email me (or message me on Facebook) if you can help. The birds and I would be grateful!