It was World Series of Birding day. A big sponsored bird race thingy, with teams competing across the State of New Jersey to record as many birds as possible within the allocated 24 hours. And all for Charity too.
We had other plans however; Prothonotary Warbler. At any rate, it didn’t appear that the World Series birders were needing any of our help; youth birding group and fellow Hyland Inners ‘The Eaglets’ were on fire - being the only ones to claim Canada Warbler at the Point yesterday....
Prothonotary Warbler is one of the Cape’s breeding species, arriving early and already on territory, whereas other Warblers were just passing through on their way to breeding grounds further north.
So here we were at The Beanery AKA The Rea Farm. A renowned spot for the Prothonotary, boasting the swampy woody habbo that they enjoy. The Beanery is permit only; however a week’s permit can be yours for 15 bucks from the Cape May Bird Obs.
Unfortunately for the World Series crews and ourselves it turned out to be a very wet morning, in fact the wettest of our trip, with rain up until after lunchtime. This made it difficult to find our target bird. Around The Beanery we noted a singing Blue Grosbeak, 2 Green Heron over, Tufted Titmouse, 1 Northern Parula, 3 Red-eyed Vireo, 2 Black & White Warbler, 1 Magnolia Warbler, 2 Yellow Warbler, 4 Savannah Sparrow, 2 Carolina Chickadee, 2 Indigo Bunting, a Kildeer with chicks and a Downy Woodpecker.
We moved on to Higbee Beach, trying our luck with passage migrants instead of swamp-gazing in the rain for elusive Prothonotary. Yesterday’s big fall had gone (note: these warblers seem to pass through very quickly) and again rain hampered play, but we noted a female White-eyed Vireo, 2 Yellow-rumped Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 3 singing Red-eyed Vireo, 2 Great Crested Flycatcher and 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker.
|Great Crested Flycatcher|
After drying out and a spot of lunch we tried a new spot – Cox Hall Creek (not Croxall!). This is formerly a golf course and is referred to as ‘The Villas’ on the CMBO map. We thought it would be a saltmarsh type place with creeks, as the name suggests, however it was a mixture of woodlands, grasslands and small ponds.
|Cox Hall Creek|
We enjoyed very good views of Eastern Bluebird here, with nest boxes put out for their use, as well as for Tree Swallows. A small group of warblers contained 1 Chestnut-sided, 2 Yellow-rumped, 1 Black & White and oooh a very nice male Blackpoll Warbler.
Also 7 Cedar Waxwing, many Chipping Sparrow, 3 Spotted Sandpiper, 3 Eastern Kingbird, 4 Blue Grosbeak, Northern Flicker (flight view), 1 Wilson’s Snipe, 2 Great Crested Flycatcher, 1 Great Blue Heron, 1 Red-tailed Hawk, Common Yellowthroat and Northern Parula.
|Blue Grozza - our best views yet...|
|Great Blue Heron - skulking on forest pond|
It is quite a long walk round, so I would recommend taking water, particularly if it’s warm, which it was now the rain had stopped. Scopes are not needed. Lessons learned and all that...
|Lots of terrapins and turtles around Cape May - I don't know the species...|
The final stop of the day was at Alexandra Avenue again, where the Western Grebe was still present and showing well near the 'concrete ship'. 16 Black Scoter were offshore.