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Monday, June 28, 2010

May 21, 2010 late afternoon some time between 1:30 to 4 pm Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge Cape May, NJ

Our last stop was Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge (also known as The Meadows). The large salt marsh and beach, where Piping Plovers nest, make up most of the refuge but there is also a scrubby meadow and pond made for feeding the nesting pairs of Piping Plovers.

As we drove down the road that would lead us to the refuge we spotted a Black Vulture soaring high in the sky with a group of TVs (Turkey Vultures) - this was a first for the year! As we drove into the parking lot of the refuge it was hard not to see the massive flock of birds hawking insects. Laughing Gulls made up most of the group - there were hundreds of them feasting on the tiny insects swarming in the sky above. There were many TVs and even a few Blacks gulping down insects by the gallon. There was even a Bald Eagle soaring majestically over head!

The two leaders of the walk also pointed out a Mississippi Kite catching Dragonflies high above and then eating them still on the wing (one of our leaders was Louis Zematis a famous bird artist and a judge for the two thousand and nine young birder of the year contest illustration module!). The Mississippi Kite was both scarce in Cape May and a lifer for all of my family!

There were tons of Forsters Terns hanging out on the marsh (lifers!). They were very elegant terns with beautiful silver grey and white bodies and long slender forked tails. Every once in a while a male tern would fly in and feed a female. The female have the males feed them as a test to see who would be the best parent. She will mate with the one that brings the most and biggest fish-it was very interesting to watch this amazing behavior.

There were some Gadwalls lazing around on the marsh along with some other waterfowl: Red-Winged Blackbirds cried from the cattails, a Bobolink flew by, a flock of shorebirds flew over head which contained some Dunlin (Dunlin would be a lifer but I was going to wait for a better view to count them), a yellowlegs waded in the water, Semipalmated Sandpipers scuttled about, life went on as it should. There were a few Piping Plovers along the beach - one even had a group of four or so chicks in its wake. Oystercatchers lazed about while terns and Gannets flew over the rolling waves and plummeted for fish in the water. An immature Bonaparte's Gull swam on the water and a few seconds later a Laughing Gull landed next to Mr (or Ms) B. We turned around and headed back for the car. We didn't see much more after that. (I left out a bunch of common birds like egrets and geese).

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