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Sunday, November 15, 2015

BCDC Field trip on Cape May Lewes Ferry - Nov 2015

Participants viewing the Franklin's Gull in canal before departure

          Six severely crazed birders followed my suggestion that we take a ride on the Cape May Lewes Ferry in search of seabirds. The temperature was about 45 degrees and the winds were about 40 knots making viewing conditions on the difficult side, to say the least. To give you an idea of the winds take a look at this guy hanging on for dear life.
Surfer Dude - photo by Bob Pierce
          The previous day Cape May experienced a big influx of over 100 Franklin's Gulls and today we managed to find one of the few stragglers still present today. The Franklin's Gull was located in the canal directly behind the ferry.

Franklin's Gull - our prize bird of the day - photo by Bob Pierce
Adult winter plumaged Franklin's Gull - Nick Pucinella

             Along with the Franklin's there were about 100's of Laughing Gulls, several Great Black-backed Gulls, Ring-billed and Herring Gulls, plus a Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Great Black-backed Gull by Bob Pierce

Laughing Gull - Bob Pierce

Great Black-backed Gull - 1st winter - Bob Pierce
Herring Gull - Nick Pulcinella

           We completed the accumulation of gulls with about 25 Bonaparte's Gulls about halfway across the bay. So, we ended up with seven species of gull for the day.
          Also before leaving the dock we had two Bald Eagles fly right over and spotted a Northern Harrier, Cooper's Hawk, and both species of Vultures. Once we started our adventure into the perfect storm we picked up many Northern Gannets which made a good showing today with several birds passing close by and several more following in the wake of the ferry.
Northern Gannet - Bob Pierce

Northern Gannet - Bob Pierce
          We were able to find Black and Surf Scoters in decent numbers but no luck with the White-winged Scoter.

Small Flock of Black Scoters - photo by Nick Pulcinella

Surf Scoter - Bob Pierce
Small group of Surf Scoters - Nick Pulcinella
           While in Delaware waters we picked up one lingering Royal Tern and both Red-throated and Common Loons.
Common Loon - Nick Pulcinella

Red-throated Loon - Nick Pulcinella

            Inside the jetty at Lewes we were able to add many Black Ducks, a Red-breasted Merganser, Buffleheads, and Double-crested Cormorants in the hundreds. 
Bufflehead male- Nick Pulcinella
             After we arrived back in Cape May and departed the ferry most of us headed to the hawk watch platform and were treated to several Cave Swallows swirling directly overhead with the Tree Swallows.
Cave Swallow at Hawk Watch platform - Nick Pulcinella

Cave Swallow - Nick Pulcinella

            In the bunker pond several species of waterfowl were present including Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shovelers, Mute Swans, and American Wigeon. I said my goodbyes at this point but made a quick stop at the lighthouse pond where I found, in among all the American Wigeon, a magnificent looking Eurasian Wigeon with its rusty red head shimmering perfectly in the low sunlight of the fading day.
Eurasian Wigeon showing rusty head - Nick Pulcinella

           It was a tough day of birding but the high quality birds that were seen was well worth the effort.
Other wildlife seen today - Warthog!! - Nick Pulcinella

Cape May Lighthouse - Bob Pierce
Lewes Lighthouse - Bob Pierce

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