Monday, February 12, 2007

What is it about Cape May?

A few of us (Susan, Lynne, Pam, and Mary) are trying to put together a plan to visit Cape May together this fall for NJ Audubon's Bird Show (link to last year's weekend). I think I've been appointed the official tour guide because I'm local. The pressure of that has me a little nervous; I love Cape May, but do I really know it well enough to show off all that it has to offer? No, not really. I have my favorite spots and favorite times of year to visit, but probably those aren't the best times or places to see birds - which is what people visiting Cape May from afar will want to see. They'll want to experience the spectacle that Cape May is known for.

I don't think that the best of Cape May can be experienced in any one season - each has its own unique experience to offer. While I can jump in the car on a late May day to see shorebirds on the Delaware Bayshore or migrating monarchs in late September - what does it offer in late October/early November that will give a sense of what it is that makes Cape May so special?

Recently there's been a discussion on NJ Birds about the top places to bird in NJ. I've been pleased to see the discussion turn more to the merits of some of the top bird-related experiences one might have in NJ, rather than relating it to any one particular place in the state. Considering the vagaries of weather and migration, I would agree that it's difficult to limit the discussion to a particular time or place.

In an effort to further entice you guys (or maybe some others who might like to join us) I'm including a list from the NJ Birds discussion of some *experiences* that we might witness in Cape May in the late Fall. I'd like to see those of you that know Cape May as well or better to add to the list. Maybe we can come up with a top ten list of sorts?

  • That near-mythic, near-annual "big" day somewhere around Halloween when every scoter, and other littoral migrant in the western north-atlantic decides its a good day to fly past the Jetty in Avalon.
  • A late fall Buteo flight- the kind that produces Ravens and Golden Eagles.
  • Bald Eagles doing just about anything just about anywhere in NJ- remember when there was one nest in an undisclosed location in Salem County, and 5-8 was agood fall?
  • Fall warbler fallout
  • Short-distance migrant flight/fallout (kinglets, robins, hermit thrushes, yellow-rumps, etc)
  • Major nocturnal migration of thrushes and other land birds
  • A marsh at dawn
  • A peregrine hunting
  • Gannet/scoter migration
Can you add to this list?

Photo of the lighthouse at Cape May taken in late September/early October - my favorite time of year for a visit.


Lynne said...

Oh Laura, I don't want you to feel pressure to make sure we see everything Cape May has to offer. I'm sure there are plenty of programs and field trips available for that. Birding will be fine, It's meeting you all that I'm most excited about!

I do love a top ten list though!

Mary said...

Laura, don't be nervous about this! If it rains non-stop, or if there's a Nor'easter in full force on the day before we arrive, it won't matter! I'm just looking forward to seeing pro-birders in action and meeting all of you and anyone else who joins us! I looked at the registration form from last year and there seems to be plenty of opportunities. What's wrong with "Duck Duck Coots?" if that is all there is. LOL!

LauraHinNJ said...

Lynne and Mary - really I worry about the weather the most. Birding is not fun in the rain. But I guess there'll be plenty to do in any case!

NatureWoman said...

I think it will be fun whatever we do and whatever the weather! It will be great to meet the people behind the blogs!

Mary said...

Laura, there is something called "rain gear", in case. There will be plenty to do. I think it will be a glorious weekend. The sun will be shining.

Susan Gets Native said...

We are NOT expecting you to show us every bird, every bush, every puddle.
I think I speak for all of us when I say that meeting you will be more wonderful than seeing 100 lifers.

That said, a few cool birds will definitely round out the weekend, right?

KGMom said...

Cape May is one of my favorite places--but I have never gone birding there. While we haven't been there for about 15 years, we used to vacation nearby and always reserved a day to prowl around the town--shopping and eating at the Mad Batter!
Enjoy your time rain or shine!

Cathy said...

I should imagine just sharing your love of the place will be more than enough for your compatriots. Throw in a marsh at dawn and well . . . it doesn't get any better.

LauraHinNJ said...

Naturewoman: Yes! I think it will be fun to meet you all whatever the weather!

Mary: Yes - hopefully it will be and there'll be plenty of birds!

Susan: lol!

What is it you'd most like to see?

KGMom: Shopping can be fun - and there's some neat Victorian homes to admire also.

Cathy: Yes - I look forward to the company of friends - the dawn part is a little doubtful!

dguzman said...

I thoroughly enjoyed my early-February trip to Cape May; plenty of ducks and a beautiful salt marsh, an unpeopled shoreline resplendent in winter gray, and a sunset that rivaled anything I ever saw anyplace else.

Lynne said...

I got a comment from another NJ birder that would like to meet us there. I hope other bloggers will think about Cape May Autumn Weekend too!!! What fun.

Hey Official Tour Guide-
Did you say you were providing the post field trip foot rubs? ;)

LauraHinNJ said...

Dguzman: I think Cape May is just a special place - no matter when you visit.

Lynne: I got quite the laugh from your comment today - who said anything about foot rubs? lol!

silverlight said...


Xris said...

Several years ago, I was at a weekend retreat in Cape May. It also happened to be the two days the Monarch butterflies migrate through there every year. The air was filled with butterfiles while we were there.