Where do we go from here?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Birding Delmarva in the Rain, Day One

Our trip back to the Mid-Atlantic last month seems almost like a dream, just two weeks back into the daily grind of work, pets, general maintenance. I have to admit that, after almost twenty five years of living on it, the East Coast feels more like home to me than the Southwest. Although, of course, the Southwest really is my locus of origin, and probably the place I'll spend my final years. Coming across the Bay Bridge from BWI, seeing the water and sky open up before us, well, I can't help it, it feels like coming home.

We arrived to grey skies and rain on the Weds, which over the next four days evolved into two colliding nor'easters, bringing cold temps, high winds and seas, wind-driven rain. Not really the weather in which to take a ferry across the Delaware Bay, or tromp around wetlands, woods, fields and beaches looking for birds. But we did all those things, and after spending Thursday outfitting ourselves with foul weather gear from the LL Bean outlet on Hwy 1 in Rehoboth Beach, we managed to enjoy them all.

Our first event was an all-day trip Friday across the Delaware Bay via the Cape May/Lewes Ferry, to Cape May NJ, one of the prime Atlantic Flyway birding spots. Cape May Point State Park is the site of an ongoing hawkwatch monitored daily by volunteers from Sept. 1 to mid-December. Amazingly enough, on October 19th, three days after we were there, a sandhill crane flew past the hawkwatch platform. I'd like to know more about that sighting, and will try to research it a little. We spent the middle of the day at the hawkwatch platform, where we saw a merlin and a falcon flying overhead, a lot of ducks out on the water. The trees by the platform were full of golden and ruby crowned kinglets, as well as yellow-rumped warblers. After lunch we headed to the beach at Stone Harbor, where birds were pretty sparse, but there were some shorebirds, gulls, a couple of ruddy turnstones, cormorants, up on a wire a fishcrow was yelling at us, and a few terns zoomed past on fishing missions. The best birding of the day was actually on the ferry, out on the open waters, where the pelagic birds didn't mind the stormy winds. We saw gannets, jaegers, caspian and royal terns, black ducks, loons, many differents kinds and stages of gulls. At the end of these posts, I'll append a list from Gail's notebook with as many birds as we were able to keep track of. A highlight of the weekend was Friday night's reception, mainly for the talk and slide presentation by Jeffrey A. Gordon. His presentation was about the planning and publication of the Delaware Birding Trail in which he was instrumental. Gordon also was our bird guide on the ferry/Cape May trip, which made it a real learning experience. Above photo is Gail and myself on the outward bound ferry, DE to NJ. We stayed on deck the whole time, to avoid seasickness and see all and any birds. (To be continued)


sunflowerkat321 said...

What a wonderful trip this must have been. You were real troopers to get out in that awful weather, but it sounds like you were rewarded with a great birding experience.

I know just how you feel about "going home." I was just in Indiana and was overwhelmed by the sense of familiarity.

I hope you and Gail are well.


marigolds2 said...

Dearest Kat, how wonderful to find your comment and know that you have visited my embryonic new attempts at blogging. Gail and I are doing quite well, for a couple of tired old birds. We want to stop working and spend as much of our time as possible birding and traveling to this country's beautiful natural places. The goal is this coming August, if we live that long!!!