We just got back from Cape May, NJ, where we did a book signing for our all new, The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America, and witnessed their epic bird migration flight of songbirds this past weekend. A perfect storm of birds, due to favorable weather conditions, landed tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of birds all over Cape May, NJ just on their biggest fall birding event, the Cape May Bird Observatory, Autumn Weekend/The Bird Show. Wow!
Hermit Thrushes were everywhere!
There were birds everywhere. Lawns were carpeted with Yellow-rumped Warblers, every bush had scores of sparrows, Hermit Thrushes popped out of shrubs, trees and littered the parking lots. One had to be careful while driving not to hit the multitude of birds flying across the roads and the sides of the roads had dead birds, the unfortunate ones who didn't make it. Birders we talked to at the Sat. night banquet described the last 2 days as "the best birding of my life!"
Hermit Thrushes were drinking out of the puddles in the parking lots, you had to be careful not to run them over.
The photo ops were outrageous. This shows the beautiful rufous tail of the Hermit Thrush a great ID clue.
Swamp Sparrows could be seen from every angle. Here's one from the birding site, Higbee Beach WMA, where the sparrow action was hot.
A Henslow's Sparrow had been seen in the meadows at Higbee, and the field trip leaders tried to find it for everyone. Some folks saw it on Sat. but it eluded many of us on Sun.
Higbee is planted for bird habitat, so there are large expanses of sorghum (also know as milo, the kind you get in bird seed) to feed the migrant birds.
There is a tall platform at Higbee where birders can see the Morning Flight. Thousands of robins and Yellow-rumped Warblers passed there on Sat.
The Hermit Thrushes had to find food, competing with the thousands of other Hermit Thrushes, as well as dive for cover when the Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks came by.
which you can see from the hawk watching platform, where official counters tally the season's species and numbers of raptors. My photos on this blog were all taken with my Canon 1D Mark IV camera and a 300 mm IS lens, plus 1.4 teleconverter.
From up on the hawk watching platform, you could look for hawks, look out over the water at ducks and geese,
or look down in the grass below were there were hundreds of sparrows. I got this photo of a beautiful and uncommon Lincoln's Sparrow in a bush right next to the hawk watch platform!