Our plan was to leave Cape May and work our way up the coast, stopping at a few spots along the way.
We left Cape May, en route to Brigantine and Wildlife Drive. We had visited Brig in September and had had a great time marveling at the flocks of shorebirds, the feeding terns, and the Ospreys. This time, I was excited because I had heard that Tundra Swans were being seen here. Tundra Swan was a bird I had yet to see.
Arriving at Brig, we viewed the recent sightings and then were on our way. We hadn’t even entered the drive when we saw birders looking into the grass. Soon, there were a bunch of people viewing an American Bittern that gave great looks.
After the bittern, we got great looks at feeding Northern Pintails.
There were also shovelers and mallards present, plus a flock of four lesser yellowlegs. After some nice looks at some nice birds, we entered the drive.
The whole time, we got great looks at Northern Harriers, flying and hunting. Beautiful birds!
As we continued down the drive we encountered more birders viewing a very large group of ducks. They let me use their scopes and there, though their scopes I saw my first Tundra Swans!They were very very far out, and it was another time when I wished I had a scope and digiscoping camera. Later, on we encountered HUGE flocks of Dunlin. Every mile or so on the 15 mile drive we encountered giant flocks.
As we watched the Dunlin I heard a very loud noise overhead and looked up to see a large flock of Snow Geese heading straight towards us. As they neared the marsh I noticed that there were thousands spread throughout the marsh and shore. It was incredible! I climbed up a tall viewing tower and saw just how many there were. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! I have posted a video showing the whole flock on my old flickr account. We watched and watched. Most of the birds, in fact pretty much all were White morph, with a few Blue morphs in between. All the calling geese together made such a loud noise I bet it could be heard all the way across the channel in Atlantic City! Truly mind boggling!
Closeup on a few geese. The lighting on my camera allowed the magnification power to come through, something that doesn’t happen often. Note these geese are NOT in the above photo, they’re much closer!
After spending at least an hour with the geese, James and I moved on. We saw more harriers, more dunlin, more ducks, but not much else of note. I had a great time and got a lifer out of it. Please see my photo gallery for more shots of the geese!
After Brig, we moved up to Barnegat, one of the best places in the US to see Harlequin Ducks. I’ve seen Harlequins twice, in Cape Cod, but they were so far out I hardly saw them. I would’ve with a scope! James had never seen Harlequins. We got there and met two other birders. At this spot, Harlequins can sometimes come very close but when we were there, there were fisherman packing the Harlequin jetty and boats going by every 3 seconds. I spotted a flock very far out, but the views were like the ones in Cape Cod. I know we’ll be back to try it again, since I’ve seen photos birders have got there. Maybe on a quieter day.
Our last stop was in a town called Deal where a Little Gull had been sighted. Unfortunately, when we arrived the flock of Bonnies, the gull was with, was too far out for binos (not a scope, though!). Too bad, but we did enjoy nice looks at 2 Surf Scoters and tons of Red-throated Loons.
All in all it was a fantastic trip. We saw some fantastic birds, fantastic people, and fantastic places. All in 2 days!
As always, please check my photo gallery for many additional photos.