Monday, July 7, 2014

Nummy Island in Early Summer, a Photoessay (with words!)

Cape May, New Jersey is full of fun places, but right nearby is a bunch of really good birding places as well. One of them is Nummy Island.

Nummy Island is an odd place, but I've been been there before and so I knew what to expect in terms of bugs and the fact that it really is just walking along the side of the road. I say that because many people just stay in their car with their binoculars, but those people are missing out! Sure there are bugs, but just wear long sleeves and long pants (thin because, you know, summer) and you should be fine (I eschew soaking my body with anti-insect chemicals).

So, on one of the earliest light days of the year, I set my alarm clock for 4:30 a.m., got up and drove down from my in-laws' house to Nummy Island.

(as always, all pictures by Damon Orsetti....please don't steal them)

I actually could have gotten up at 4:00 a.m. and still would have been there when it was light.

It wasn't quite spring or fall migration so the shorebirds were relatively scarce. I did see one Whimbrel there, which is pretty good because apparently there was a grand total of one Whimbrel in all of Cape May count that week and it was seen moving between Nummy Island and Stone Harbor beach. No pictures because it flew by. I did get some of the scarce other shorebirds around.

Willets were not scarce and boy were they loud and frequent vocalizers. I had hoped to find some dowitchers or even a stray peep, but nothing. I did find another bird that was just as obnoxiously loud as the Willets.

Besides the Willets and Oystercatchers I saw some more "mundane" birds like Song Sparrows (no Saltmarsh Sparrows, though I looked and listened because I was in a salt marsh), Gray Catbirds, and a few blackbirds.

Well, Boat-tailed Grackles are really "mundane" I guess.

I hoped to fatten up my list with terns because last year I had nine different species (mostly from this area), but I only found Least Terns ("leasterns") and Forster's Terns.

And nesting Osprey were everywhere.

There is a nearby Laughing Gull rookery and you can't be anywhere in Nummy Island without hearing hundreds of them, though you might see a few Herring Gulls and Great Black-backed Gulls poking around.

But Nummy Island is famous for its shorebirds and herons. My timing was bad for shorebirds (though I will be back), but I could easily see lots of herons, especially since there is a Black-crowned Night Heron rookery nearby.

There are usually a couple Tricolored Herons that are easily seen if you look around.

Not as easily seen as I said!

And, of course, Little Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, and Great Egrets.

The sheer diversity of herons, egrets, and others is wonderful.

Including a few Glossy Ibises

One of the best parts of birding is finding the unexpected. No, not some rare thing like a Little Gull or some phalarope, but instead a Common Loon.

Now, I've seen dozens if not hundreds of loons this winter, so this wasn't a huge deal in terms of year listing, but it just wasn't expected. Though I guess it shouldn't be a surprise since, apparently, there are often one or two straggler Common Loons that hang out near Cape May in the summertime. Still a nice surprise.

Any day at Nummy Island or wandering around the many birding trails of Cape May is a good day, no matter how many birds I see or how bad the weather is. Granted, I did see a bunch of birds (many new for the year) and the weather was great, so no complaints at all.

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