Awaiting the arrival of the second of a pair of “nor’easters,” I write from the comfort of my brother’s home on a creek on Great Bay, which borders Edwin Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. The wind whistles against the window screens. Yesterday, the storm created a tidal surge that brought the water level within inches of the top of the bulkhead. Some neighboring properties were flooded for a couple of hours. Continued strong easterly winds foreboded a repeat performance today, when the tide peaked in mid-morning, this time breaching the bulkhead and submerging his boat dock for the first time in memory. Rain and gusty winds have curtailed our excursions afield for the past two days, and we do not expect the weather to clear until our return flight to Florida on Monday.
A week ago, we arrived in New Jersey from Illinois with our daughter and her two children, to celebrate the weddding of my younger sister’s son. We spent a delightful three days, lodged in a fourth floor oceanfront condo. The kids had their fill of wallowing in the surf and playing in the sand. Our schedule permitted two brief forays into Cape May Point State Park during the peak hawk-watching season.
In the fall, migrating birds funnel down to Cape May, at the southern tip of New Jersey. Most of the smaller land birds pass through before mid-October, though we saw many Yellow-rumped Warblers and thousands of Tree Swallows. There were also great concentrations of southbound Monarch Butterflies. Now the skies were filled with raptors. Most were Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks, but in the course of about a half hour on the observation deck we saw several harriers and kestrels, a half-dozen Merlins, and four Peregrine Falcons. As I tried to keep one fast-moving Merlin in camera view, it cleanly plucked a Tree Swallow out of the air, barely altering its arrow-straight trajectory.
Great Black-backed Gull: