Friday, August 30, 2013

Return to Cape May

It is always a wonderful experience to visit this place. There's just so much here that's awesome, its hard not to be impressed. What enthralled me most was the fragrant smell from all of the wildflowers in bloom. Subtle and sweet, it left me almost drunk like a bee. Not many people were birding along the nature trail. There were a good number of colorful birds to go along with the many colorful dragonflies and butterflies. Blue Dasher Deep in the underbrush many red-starts and yellow warblers were feasting on the bugs. Yellow Warbler There was also this guy and another warbler which I think was a Magnolia Warbler. Catbird and Warbler Also lurking were marsh and carolina wren and thrashers in the bracken. MarshWren Up in the crowns were the juveniles of many species all chasing each other around. That included orioles, JuvyOrioles Kingbirds, Kingbird Family and this Blue Grosbeak who rose up to exert his dominance but was trumped by a fiesty RT Hummingbird. BlueGrosbeak vs RT hummer But the mockingbirds eventually won the day through sheer staring down a rough-winged swallow. Mocker vs Rough Winged Swallow But the real ruler of the marsh was this clumsy Cooper's hawk. Cooper's Attack Brown Dasher Also seen were this Great Crested Flycatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher and a mute swan. SilentWitness On the ocean side the sun was setting on a huge colony of Black Skimmers! BlackSkimmers BlackSkimmers Black Skimmers Black Skimmers An Osprey hovered long and low along the beach like a good night kiss. Beach Skimmer And even some Bottlenose Dolphin were fishing close to the beach. Dolphins Flipper An interesting note is that the 4x4 riding guy said the Skimmers are here almost two weeks longer than last. This corresponds with the 2 week late Spring that we had this year. At least the dolphins seem ok, phew!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Island Beach State Park

Its been a busy summer work-wise and Im also gearing up for my next Ecuador adventure in the Fall. As a result, I havent been as active on the photography as I would like. This weekend I was able to venture out to Island Beach State Park and was rewarded with a gorgeous day full of amazing birdys. The most amazing thing about this place is the sheer number of Osprey. I stopped counting after 24, which included many juveniles, no doubt a result of the 8+ nesting platforms erected around the Park. I guess if you build it, they WILL come! One downside was the inordinate amount of biting flies which at one point had me completely covered, Africa-style. But without them as the cornerstone of the ecosystem, there would not be so many dragonflies, swallows and every other manner of bird. That is why I am against aerial spraying, despite the public's call for it. Aerial Spraying Putting that aside, the management of the Park has an Osprey nestcam which draws a huge NYU-hawk like following. Here's my first shots of the day from that spot. Dad bringing fresh flounder to the nest! Osprey with Flounder Mom arriving at the nest to supervise. Osprey At the visitor's center, more Osprey! Begging Osprey And this fascinating whale jaw. Whale bones Lots of sandpipers, dunlin, plover and other peeps on the Beach. Peeps On the Bay side, many passerines hiding in the scrub due to the presence of Cooper's hawks and Northern Harriers. These finches came out when they heard the peregrine calling. House Finches It was a juvy hovering on the wind, harrassing the Osprey and harriers. Peregrine vs Osprey Also tons of waders like Great Egrets, Great Egret Glossy Ibis, GlossyIbis and a very beautiful bird, the Tricolored Heron. Tricolor Heron On the Bay side is a wonderful blind where I was able to get this video of two young Osprey begging for food. On a more serious note. Yet another dolphin washed up on the Jersey Shore this weekend. That makes it about 3 dozen here in NJ and another 2 dozen or so out on Long Island. What's killing the dolphins is a type of pneumonia that is commonly found. Some theories suggest something in the water is surpressing their immune systems and making them vunerable. Here's some recent press on the issue.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Turkey Vulture Nest

I guess its apropos that these Turkey Vultures are nesting in an abandoned Psychiatric Hospital. BabyTurkeyVultures Mom stands watch. TurkeyVulture Unfortunately they had worked themselves into a closed off room, so I entered it despite their threats and opened a few windows for them. Good luck little guys!