A message from team captain Tony Croasdale:
On behalf of Katrina, Jeff, Bull and myself I’d like to extend a warm thank you to all who supported our team in NJ Audubon’s World Series of Birding (WSB), our donors, the DVOC, ABA, and Steiner Optics. We came in second in the Carbon Footprint Cup with 129 species biking 73 miles. Of the four of us, two had never competed in the WSB on bikes before, and to get that total shows how well the new competitors did on the day. I have high hopes for victory for next year!
We started the day at Bellplain State Forest at midnight, it was very quiet. Our first bird was an overnbird performing its night song. We rode to Jakes Landing and got clapper rail and marsh wren. We ran into Tom Reed and the Israelis from Team Champions of the Flyway. Tom is always generous with information in planning our route as he is the expert on Cape May County. We rode back to Belleplain with only one whip-poor-will heard, no chucks, and no owls. It was a very quiet night.
We slept a few hours in a lean-to at Belleplain we awoke to a thunderstorm that keep us inside till after dawn. We picked up birds from inside when during the pauses in the rain. Despite a late start we did well in Belleplain sweeping the breeding warblers and picking up unexpected flyover bobolink and common merganser. Migrants were thin on the ground and would remain so for the rest of the day. We ran into NJ Audubon’s board of directors’ century run team and got to say hi to some of the wonderful folks who organize the event. The sad part of the WSB is it brings together so many wonderful people who you have no time to spend time with!
Our next stop was Beaver Swamp and we ride there via rural roads in farm country picking up bluebird, field sparrow, and orchard oriole. We missed wood duck and gull-billed tern but picked up bald eagle and hairy woodpecker, a hard bird to pin down in breeding season. We headed for Stone Harbor Boulevard though Lizard Tail Swamp and a nice bike path. Stone Harbor Boulevard and the Wetlands institute produced great shorebirding and little blue and tricolored heron. At Stone Harbor Jeff wowed us with his laser focus and eagle eyes and pulled out loons, surf scoter, and common tern. Katrina even saw a whale surface and spout!
We blasted through Nummy’s Island already getting our targets there; however and merlin was a welcome surprise. We picked up royal tern at Anglesea and yellow-crowned night heron at the Wawa in Wildwood. We struck out on ducks at the Coast Guard Ponds besides black, we did get saltmarsh sparrow at the marina. We crossed onto Cape Island at 5:30pm.
Our first stop on the Island was the South Cape May Meadows where my lovely fiancée Angie, who was waiting with snacks and water. We decided to go right for the Swainson’s warbler on Lighthouse Ave. We succeeded in the Swainson’s and we birding around Lilly Lake picking up a few (too few) migrants and mute swan. We hit the State Park Hawk Watch and headed back to the Meadows but picked up no new birds. The sky was darkening with thunderheads and we raced to Highbees Beach; along the way we finally got downy woodpecker! At Highbees we got our last bird, white-throated sparrow. The storm was about to hit and we biked back to our AirBnB in the Villas as the storm hit. It didn’t let up to let us try for some night birds so we called it a night.
We raised $1662.30. We paid for the BirdPhilly website for the year and have plenty leftover to buy some materials for the birding backpack and birding for the visually impaired programs. Our plan is to continue to compete in the WSB and hopefully add a youth team. Hopefully we can grow this to not just fund BirdPhilly but provide the American Birding Association with funds to support these programs in other cities.
THere is still time to donate. Please consider donating via the link below