Spring in Cape May May 13—19, 2018

Posted by Louise Zemaitis


Louise Zemaitis

Louise Zemaitis is an artist and naturalist living in Cape May, New Jersey where she is a popular field trip leader teaching birding workshops as an Associate Naturalist wi...

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With spring birding comes an element of anticipation. As the landscape greens and flowers begin to bloom, colorful Neotropical migrants arrive, joining the renewed chorus. VENT’s 2018 Spring in Cape May: Relaxed and Easy tour experienced some of the best of what the spring season has to offer.

Perhaps the best surprise of the tour was our entire first morning’s outing. A short pre-checkout birdwalk at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge turned into a warbler extravaganza! The previous day’s gloomy weather had pinned down quite a few migrants in the refuge’s urban forest and freshwater wetlands. By foray’s end, we had enjoyed many highlights including eighteen species of warblers, four species of woodpeckers, and a locally rare Common Raven being chased by an American Crow! Our afternoon arrival on Cape May’s bayshore brought us to Jake’s Landing where we were entertained by displaying Marsh Wrens and scope views of handsome Bobolinks while listening to the songs of Seaside Sparrows and Willets.


Bobolink— Photo: Michael O’Brien


The second morning’s search for Neotropical migrants was equally rewarding. The open canopy at Cape May Point State Park allowed fabulous views of numerous warblers, including Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, and a rare Swainson’s (scoped!). We also enjoyed wonderful views of several male Scarlet Tanagers, plus a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird building her nest. The morning’s warbler list was made complete with the addition of a brilliant male Prothonotary in the wet woods at the Rea Farm in West Cape May. 

One of the best ways to explore the Atlantic Coast marshes is to take a back-bay cruise. A boat’s angle of approach does not present a threat to birds. During our leisurely afternoon with Captain Bob Lubberman on The Osprey (aptly named), we had super-close views of flocks of shorebirds in the tidal mud flats, nesting terns and gulls, a Black Skimmer flying around the boat, a lingering male Surf Scoter, and a Peregrine Falcon sitting on a bridge near his nest. We were pleasantly surprised to find a very late Horned Grebe and a subtle White-rumped Sandpiper.

Read Louise’s full report in her Field Report.