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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cape May Weekend Extravaganza

     Gary Becker and I enjoyed a two day stay at Cape May on Friday and Saturday. We started in Brigantine on Friday morning and were treated to quite a display of hunting by a family of three Peregrine Falcons. They would dive down of flocks of Green-winged Teals which were in flight and the teals would go head first out of the air and into the water with a big splash. Dunlin, Greater Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpiper and Black-bellied Plovers padded the trip list and along with thousands of Brant and a few Snow Geese and Hooded Mergansers. But the fun didn't start until we arrived in Cape May. 
Western Kingbird (Click to Enlarge)
     Almost as soon as we arrived we noticed people stopped on the side of Sunset Blvd. It turns out that they had spotted a Western Kingbird. The bird was real cooperative and allowed for photos as it would propel itself into the air and retrieve a delicious insect for a snack. We then head to the bunker pond and the hawk watch. The pond was filled with Am Wigeon, Gadwall, Am Coots and many Tree Swallow circling above.
American Coots
Gadwall and American Wigeon
     We went over to Lily Lake next and as luck was with us I picked up a new state bird, a Cackling Goose. At this point we retired for the day because the lighting was disappearing quickly. Plans for tomorrow were to catch the first ferry to Lewes, Delaware to do a poor man's pelagic trip crossing the Delaware Bay.

Gary Becker waiting for a Lifer
      We boarded the ferry for the first crossing of the day at 7:30AM. Almost immediately we spotted dozens of Gannets. We were lucky to find a few Bonaparte's Gulls also. We would end the day with a total of seven species of gulls. 
Northern Gannet getting ready to attack Gary
      As we were crossing the bay we would add all three species of Scoters, Common Loon, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Long-tailed Ducks. As we were approaching the jetties outside of the Lewes docking area I noticed a small gull coming towards the ferry. I told Gary to get on this bird because it was probably another Bonaparte's. But as it zipped by I saw the "M" shape black markings on the upperwings and yelled to Gary that it was an immature Black-legged Kittiwake. We could also see the black necklace across the top of the nape. This was Gary's lifer and only the second one I have in Delaware.
      After we docked again in Cape May we finished up birding and didn't really add too much in the way of new birds so we headed home. It was a delightful two days. 

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