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Southern Ocean Birding Group

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Dec. 2016

Third Annual Cape May October Getaway 2016

By Rachel Pariso Corso and Susan Puder


In what is becoming an annual birding getaway, the members of the Southern Ocean County Birding Group (SOBG) packed their birding gear and headed to Cape May Point for the 2016 bird migration season in early October. A historic Victorian three-story home facing tranquil Lake Lily became home for four days of birding for the enthusiastic group.


As the archives note, the spacious home was built in the early 1890's and was previously the clubhouse of the Cape May Point Country Club. Today the home consists of large rooms furnished with beautiful antique furniture, including a formal dining room. A large comfortable entry room with several cozy sitting areas surrounds a dramatically carved huge fire place. As the birders returned home to "nest" for the night, they shared their bird sightings of the day while sitting on the wrap-around porch before dinner.


This year we had a full house again, and several SOBG members visited for the day and stopped by to tour the house.  The warbler diversity was down this year, but we still managed to see almost 90 species during the five days we were there. The raptors didn’t disappoint, with Sharp-shinned Hawks and Cooper’s Hawks being the most prevalent, and a Merlin decided to visit outside the house our last evening.  The weather didn’t help with migration, as we had almost a constant east wind with clouds for 2+ days.  But birding is always a crap shoot when planning so far in advance.

One of the most amazing sights the first day we arrived were the tens of thousands of Tree Swallows flying over the dunes near the Hawk Watch.  At times they almost covered the Cape May Lighthouse and some of our members felt like they were in an Alfred Hitchcock movie.  By the end of the week, the swallows had mostly moved on over Delaware Bay.  We were also pleased to see good numbers of Monarch Butterflies, and we added a few butterflies of our own, thanks to some of our members.


The food was delicious as always, and we had guests Kevin Karlson and Dale Rosselet join us one night, adding to our lively dinner discussions.


Next year we might try a different week later in the month to see a different variety of species, and maybe coincide with the NJ Audubon Fall Migration Festival.  Stay tuned for more information on our plans.