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BOS Cape May Trip and Gray Kingbird

Published November 04, 2016
Tags: General Observations, Cattle Egret, Brant, Northern Mockingbird, American Oystercatchers, Black Skimmer, Royal Tern, Willet, Carolina Chickadee, Eurasian Wigeon, Purple Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Red-throated Loon, Northern Gannet, Surf Scoter, Northern Harrier, Cooper's Hawk, Gray Kingbird, Cape May, dolphin

Alec Humann led a BOS trip to Cape May at the end of October and I had the great thrill of going. Alec did an outstanding job of organizing, planning, and sharing his extensive knowledge with the 15 of us BOS members who attended. I didn't get any life birds on the trip - although I came close to one - but I saw some great sights. Many - maybe even all of the others - got at least a few life birds.

Alec arranged a few banding demonstrations over the course of the five days we were there.  On a couple of nights, we got to see (and touch)  Northern Saw-whet Owls after being just caught and banded. We also had a couple of hawk banding demos where we enjoyed seeing up close and personal two Red-tailed Hawks, two Cooper's Hawks, and a Northern Harrier.  My favorite was the beautiful Northern Harrier with its soft browns and owl-like face. Seeing that bird so close was just wonderful.  One of the Cooper's Hawks was another favorite because I got to hold and release it!  The little guy snipped at me too, giving me a real appreciation for its sharp beak!  No worries - it really didn't hurt that much!  Rick Thomas took a video of the release that I need to figure out how to add here.

We saw some awesome birds: hawks, owls, shorebirds, passerines, and seabirds. All in all, I think the sea watches were my favorite activity. Seeing all the life out there on the ocean was so cool.  I've never seen so many scoters, Forster's Terns, and Northern Gannets - and we saw several groups of dolphins to boot!

We had a real fun group of all different levels of birding experience and Alec fielded our hundreds of questions very well!  I know I learned a ton on the trip and I'm sure everyone else did too.

It was hard leaving Cape May to come back to the diminishing birding of Western New York. However, as luck would have it, Melissa Mance found a Gray Kingbird over in Genesee County and it was still around as I was driving my westward journey home.  Even though I saw the one Greg Lawrence found earlier in the year, my life bird experience, I decided to take a slight detour on my way home and see this guy as it was giving great views.  Sure enough, the bird was there and I got some beautiful looks at it. The one Greg found was pretty far out and a scope was needed, so this was well worth the stop, even after having already driven 7+ hours!

Some photos of some of the birds seen on the Cape May trip and the Gray Kingbird are below...
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A Cattle Egret in a fir tree seen at the hawk watch on the first day
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And the next day, there were TWO Cattle Egrets!
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If I didn't get enough of those 11 Brant at home, I got my fill in Cape May!
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Northern Mockingbird
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American Oystercatchers
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A Royal Tern carrying a fresh catch
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We had a smorgesborg of shorebirds here: Willet, Short-billed Dowitcher, and yellowlegs are in this group.
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Carolina Chickadee
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A beautiful, male Eurasian Wigeon
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Black Skimmer
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Purple Sandpipers - Amazingly, Alec noticed a group of 4 sandpipers fly in while on our sea watch. They landed behind a rock jetty and we went out and found them!
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Ruddy Turnstones
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Two of eight Red-throated Loons that flew over us at one of the sea watches
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Two, young Northern Gannet flying in front of a flock of Surf Scoters.
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More Brant but a little closer. We probably saw thousands, altogether.
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Male Surf Scoter off the jetty where Alec and I were scoping for a Masked Booby. That hoped-for bird would have been a life bird for us both but no luck!
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Alec holding a Northern Harrier
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Alec holding a Cooper's Hawk
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Northern Harrier
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Cooper's Hawk
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Dolphins!
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Dolphins!
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Gray Kingbird seen in Genesee County on my way home
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Gray Kingbird
Reply from: Gemma on 3/21/2017 10:13 PM
 These Cattle Egrets are so cute. One of my fav, thanks for sharing.