01 November 2013

Cape May Birding - Autumn 2013, Forsters Terns and more niceness

Biotope is currently birding Cape May. The 67th Autumn Bird Festival, in one of USAs top bird sites is behind us. For two and a half weeks we have had the pleasure of seeing some amazing birds and meeting a lot of great birders. Being situated in what is a world class migration hotspot, we have witnessed stunning numbers of birds. However birding is also very much about the people. We wanted to make our stay in Cape May long enough to not only see a few good birds and work the festival, but to meet people and learn more about this birding destination. Like so many other places we have visited the sense of a birding community is instantaneous. Wherever we go we meet and connect with so many great people and making new friends, and even keeping in touch with old ones. Like birds, people migrate too. And the preferred birder hotspots are allways loaded with good birds. This was our second time migrating to Cape May. A huge thanks to New Jersey Audubon Society and Cape May Bird Observatory for organising everything!

There are so many good moments to share from the past couple of weeks. To give justice to our time in Cape May we will need at least one more post. For now we will share a series of hunting Forsters Terns. A mega rarity anywhere in Europe, but a very common bird in east coast USA. Maybe we will find one in Varanger some day?! 

Just to give you a little insight in the niceness of Cape May: Everywhere is a good bird site. Of course some places in the Cape are better then others, but there are litterally birds everywhere. On a good migration day, passerines can be seen in 100 000s, hawks, eagles and vultures soar in the sky in hundreds, while seabirds migrate along the coast in massive numbers. We stayed at a motel at the end of Cape Mays Beach Avenue, and our local birding hotspot was only a few metres from the motel: the beach breakwater. On the aerial photo below that is the landpoint reaching furthest into the sea. The surf around the breakwater is the perfect hunting ground for Terns. This is where the photos in this post was taken. 

Biotope aerials: Of course we had to bring our favoured birder architect tool: the Quadcopter-camera. Seeing any bird site from a birds perspective is an enlightening thing. This is an aerial taken from above Cape May Points famous Hawkwatch plattform, towards Cape May town. The State Park is between Cape May Point and the town is just one of several great sites in Cape May. Our next post will feature more aerials and site photos. 

 Birds are great. Birding is made great by people.

The 67th Cape May Autmun Birding Festival was our prime reason for being in Cape May. After several years of working with the development of Varanger as a birding destination we feel it is about time to launch Varanger in USA. It is after all the worlds finest and easiest accessible arctic birding destination! Perhaps a bold statement, but where else could you experience taiga, tundra and arctic coast within a couple of hours of driving?! Enjoy your Pine Grosbeaks in the Pasvik Taiga, do an arctic bird cliff after lunch and have dinner at a hotel with a harbour view full of Stellers Eiders. It is cool. Litterally - and in any other way too. We are greatfull for all the interest we got from the festival visitors, and we will be back with a few more photos from the event. Stay tuned! In the meantime check out our recent production: the Varanger winter, spring and summer info leaflets

Thanks to the good people at Cape May Point State Park we did another talk, in addition to the festival talk. This is just another example of how great it is to stay for a while and get to know a place and its ´just-do-it´ people. All of a sudden you are giving a talk you did not expect to give beforehand, simply because you meet and connect with likeminded people (Thanks Susan for setting up the talk!).

Hover - dive - hover

Back to the Forsters Terns. At my talk I show a series of birds practising their skills. Just like people birds are not borned experts but they work and practise to become just that. Finding yourselves at place where you can see birds hunting and chasing without disturbing them is an inspiring experience. One early morning and a short walk from our motel I found myself looking at a group of Forsters Terns hovering and diving. Another great birding experience.

Grand thanks to all Cape May birders and all birders visting the festival. It has been a great birding USA experience. Stay tuned for the birding Cape May part 2 post!

In the meantime check out the Biotope Facebook page for other recent birding in Cape May photos. 

to be continued..

Tormod A. / Biotope