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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Martin Selzer
January 17, 2009
Cape May, New Jersey
Fifteen club members joined me on a sunny cold winter’s day on our field trip to Cape May. Our first stop was the Villas Wildlife Management Area (WMA). As we pulled into the WMA, a large flock (75+) of Rusty Blackbirds, along with Common Grackles was observed feeding in the trees and ground immediately next to the parking lot. This was a great way to start the trip as we got one of the main targets for a winter trip here. As we walked around the WMA, we came across a variety of sparrows including Field, Song and White-throated, numerous Northern Flickers, Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers, Eastern Bluebirds, Carolina Wrens and Carolina Chickadees.
As we began to circle our way back to our cars, we came across our second major target species, two Red-headed Woodpeckers. These birds have become regular winter residents here and frequent the stand of trees close to the large pond. In this area we also found 2 Palm Warblers. On the pond were some Canada Geese, a pair of Lesser Scaup and a Ruddy Duck. While observing a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, another regular winter visitor to the Villas, a Merlin, perched a top a snag bringing all other bird activity to a standstill until the Merlin moved on. We also came across a Hermit Thrush as we returned to the parking lot.
Our next stop was along the canal at 711 New England Road to see if we could find the wintering Rufous Hummingbird. This western vagrant has been frequenting the feeding at this home and another around the corner since the fall. Almost as soon as we had pulled in front of the house, the hummer made an appearance. Unfortunately, with a 5 car caravan, the people in the last 2 cars really didn’t get to see the hummer before it took off. Therefore, we parked and waited. The bird has about a 20-25 minute feeding cycle and in about 20 minutes or so it was back and everyone get a look. From here we took a quick stop at the Lighthouse before stopping at the Concrete Ship for a lunch stop.
After lunch we sorted through the waterfowl on Lily Lake, adding Snow Geese, American Coot, Ring-necked Duck, American Widgeon, Gadwall and Northern Shoveler to the trip list. From here we were off in search of the Eared Grebe that was reported just an hour earlier from Utsch’s Marina. Our first stop at the marina was in the wrong area but was not completely without rewards as we did find Brant, Bufflehead, Red-breasted Mergansers, a female Common Goldeneye, and a Greater Yellowlegs. Our next stop in the marina was the proper spot; however, thanks to the current and a boater, the grebe had moved to the opposite side of the harbor and seemed to be closer to the Cape May Yacht Club. This left us with a dilemma. Stay here and look across the harbor into the sun or drive over to the Yacht Club and hope the grebe didn’t move. We decided to take the chance the grebe would stay where it was and we made a move. Fortunately, the grebe stayed more or less where it was and at least the lighting was better from the Yacht Club side and we were able to track it down.
Next on the agenda was Stone Harbor where we didn’t find either of the Snowy Owls that have been reported in the area for the past month although we did find a few shorebirds including: Sanderling, Dunlin, Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers. Because we wanted to get to Jake’s Landing for Short-eared Owls at dusk, we didn’t spend a great deal of time at Stone Harbor, so we made a quick scan of Nummy’s Island before heading off to Jake’s Landing. No sooner did we arrive at Jake’s Landing than at least 4 Short-eared Owls began feeding over the marsh. Some were rather far out in the marsh but some were right in close making for a very nice ending to an excellent day of birding in Cape May.
Thanks to everyone for joining me on this trip and for helping find birds.
Pictures by Bert Filemyr
Click Here for some bird pictures from the trip.