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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Martin Selzer

January 26, 2008
Cape May, New Jersey

The field trip started with a quick trip out to the end of Reeds Beach Road to find that the week's cold weather had turned the bay into a giant slushy. We still found a dozen or so Common Goldeneyes, a big flock of Snow Geese in the marsh, a Northern Harrier, some Yellow-rumped Warblers, a flock of Dunlin on the jetty and a pair of Bald Eagles. From here we went to the Villas WMA and spent about 90 minutes birding that area. Highlights there included an American Kestrel, 20+ Eastern Bluebirds, 2 Redheads, Ring-necked Ducks, American Wigeon and Gadwall on the main pond; also Hermit Thrush, and Eastern Phoebe. We thought we would have missed out on the Red-headed Woodpeckers that we had hoped to see there, when we ran into Tom McParland who told us he had just seen a pair of them in an area we had just come through, so off in search of them we went. Sure enough, we found them along with a pair of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. Having found all of our target birds we moved on to Cape May proper.

We started at the Concrete ship where we found not too much going on but did see a Peregrine Falcon on the water tower by the old magnesite plant. At Lilly Lake we struck a veritable gold mine of waterfowl. We had 5 Redheads (3 drakes and 2 hens), Hooded Mergansers, Ruddy Ducks, 1 hen Canvsasback, Ring-necked Ducks, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Mute Swans, Canada Geese and yes, the Barnacle Goose. I'll leave the debate as to whether this bird is countable to others, but it was a very handsome bird and the lighting was exquisite. From here we went to the jetty at St. Mary's and although the tide was in, eliminating most of the jetty, the 4 hen Common Eiders were there. It was now time for lunch so we stopped at the State Park and were treated to about 75-100 Snow Buntings flying up and down the beach.

So far we had been doing rather well as we headed up the Parkway to Stone Harbor. We started with a trip out to the end of Shell Bay Landing before heading out to Nummy's Island. At the toll bridge at the end of Nummy's we picked up the first of 100s of Long-tailed Ducks, a Common Loon and some Black-bellied Plovers. We could see 100s of birds on the sandbar in Hereford Inlet so that's where we headed next. From North Wildwood, looking into the inlet we could see 100s of Long-tailed Ducks, Surf and Black Scoters, more Common Loons dozens of American Oystercatchers and lots and lots of Dunlin, Sanderlings and Ruddy Turnstones. We then crossed back over the bridge and returned to Stone Harbor where we had 3 more Common Eider at the jetty and one lone Northern Gannet over the ocean. We ended the day at Jake's Landing Road. We hadn't gotten to the parking area when 2 Short-eared Owls greeted us just out over the creek. We didn't even have to get out of our cars, although we did to watch them hunt!

Thanks to Jane, Joan, Joe, Lynn and Win for joining me and making it a great field trip. Someone told me we had a combined 75 species for the day. Hope to see you all at a meeting or field trip soon.