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10/17/09
A visit to my native New Jersey
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Rutherford & NJ
Posted by: Ken @ 8:31 am

Sunset before the storm, Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey:

Tuckerton Sunset 20091013

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.

Black Skimmers line up on the beach, cropped image from Cape May condo balcony:

Skimmer Lineup 20091012

Surfer, from our condo:

Surfer 20091010

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.

The Lightouse at Cape May Point State Park:

CapeMayLighthouse20091010

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.



Hawk watchers on the deck, led by Pete Dunne of Cape May Bird Observatory (click on photos for more views):

Hawk Watchers 20091010 PeteDunneAtHawkWatch20091010
                                              

Is this a little Coop or a big Sharpie? … and a Northern Harrier:

CoopersHawk20091010NorthernHarrier20091013



We were also delighted to obtain great views of an immature Bald Eagle as it coursed leisurely southward:

BaldEagle2-20091013



Along the trails at Cape May, other non-avian creatures provided photo-ops, including a Black Rat Snake and a Praying Mantis (click on photos for larger views):

Black Snake 20091013PrayingMantis2-20091013
 


Before the rains came, we visited the Brigantine Unit of Forsythe NWR. Soon after we started our drive around the auto loop, a Peregrine Falcon stooped on a large flock of feeding sandpipers, scattering them in all directions.

Another Peregrine settled down on a small tree, not too far off the road:

Peregrine Falcon at Brig 20091013

An immature Peregrine provided me with this bank shot as it harassed a cormorant larger than itself:

Peregrine Falcon at Brig 20091013

Forster’s Terns fished the roadside waterways:

Gull-billed Tern 20091013

Great Black-backed Gull:

Great Black-backed Gull 20091014
 
A sleepy Black-crowned Night-Heron:

Black-crowned Night-Heron 20091014

Mandatory parting shot of a back-lit Great Egret:

Great Egret 20091013

4 Responses to “A visit to my native New Jersey”

  1. Eileen Says:
    Wonderful shot of the Black Skimmers. I would love to see the Peregrine closer than my previous sightings. Great photos.
  2. Nicole Says:
    Those shots are awesome. I love the variety of birds and other animals (and humans :) ) My Fav is the shot with the Black Skimmers though. a) I’ve not seen them before and b) they just look great. Like they are lining up for take off :D
  3. Larry Jordan Says:
    Awesome photos Ken! Excellent shot of the Peregrine landing in the tree. FYI, when you post on Bird Photography Weekly, there is a “Mister Linky” just below the top BFW icon, in green colored text. Click on that to put your link in. I found your link by reading the comments but not everyone does that.
  4. New Mexico certified pilots Says:
    Wonderful shot of the Black Skimmers. I would love to see the Peregrine closer than my previous sightings. Great photos.

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