Gearing up for the World Series of Birding

I’m getting everything together for tomorrow’s marathon birding event, see THIS post for what it’s all about. I did a last scouting trip this morning that resulted in some unexpected sad news. I drove up to the Beesley’s Point power station this morning to look for a pair of Ravens that have been nesting on it this year. I’d been there twice before but hadn’t seen them yet. While I stood in the parking lot next to the station, an employee drove out and pulled up behind me.

“Are you one of the birdwatchers?” she asked, as must have been obvious, as I had binoculars in hand. I conceded I was.

“I’m afraid the two Ravens are dead. There was an accident, and one of them was electrocuted. We’re not sure what happened to the other one, but the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife department has collected the bodies.”

I was shocked myself, and sad to hear about this, not only because I and others on the WSB wouldn’t get to count them in our fundraiser, but because these Ravens, the only ones in Cape May County, were gone.

Later I drove south and west to Stipsons Island Road and Jakes Landing Road, both of which go through upland forest to the wetlands draining into Delaware Bay. I saw some good birds, but the gnats were swarming and out for blood, so I didn’t stay too long. (They’ve just emerged, there were none a few days ago. An extra trial for our trip, but then they are bird food!)

This afternoon I got my stuff together. In the pack is my regular digital camera (which I’ve been using less and less in favor of the phone camera, but I might want it), bug spray, sun screen, bottled water and ice tea (I don’t mind if it gets warm), napkins, wet wipes, lens cleaner and my checklist. In the cooler will go two turkey sandwiches on rolls, a container of blueberries, three clementines, two bananas, and four baggies of trail mix I made up from dried fruit, cashews, pistachios, walnuts and dark chocolate chips. Two ice packs will go in too, and I test packed to make sure it all fit.

The extra canvas bag is for my walking shoes and socks. I will put on hikers for the beginning of the day, then switch to walkers later when my feet get warm and the hikers get too heavy. I will switch back in the evening if the projected rain arrives then. The binoculars will be on all day, of course, and my phone will be in use fairly often. For one thing, the battery on my watch just died, so I will use it to know the time. I will also post brief updates on our progress on my Facebook page through the day when I have time.

The weather report is mixed, but not too bad. A chance of a shower early and a larger chance late in the day. The wind will be from the southeast, so it will warm up to the mid 70s mid day, and we may have some sun. Bird migration has slowed down, and the wind direction won’t help, but we can always hope for at least a few migrants in our path. The resident and breeding birds are well scouted by our leaders, and team members like myself.

I will publish a full report on Sunday as soon as I can get it together. I’m always in recovery mode on Sunday, so maybe not until the afternoon. It will be an exhausting but fun day!

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