Cape May Bird Observatory
Melissa's Big Year Blog
My name is Melissa and I'm a 13 year old birder. I moved to North Cape May about a year ago and last year I was able to participate in the Youth Challenge of the World Series of Birding! I liked birding before, but now I'm absolutely hooked!
I'm home-schooled and doing some travelling this year, so I thought it would be a great personal challenge to me as a new birder to do a Big Year. The nice folks at CMBO have agreed to keep you up-to-date with my travels and put my postings on their website. I hope to get some pictures too.
I hope you stop by time-to-time to see what I've been up to; I'm looking forward to it and I hope you will, too!
Later . . .
|Still In The Game. . . - Sunday, July 07, 2013|
We took a trip to Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. We saw 4 new birds for my Big Year List. So I now have 205 birds on my list!!!
One of my favorites, and the hardest to find for this trip, was probably the Kirtland's Warbler. We went to this place near Mio, Michigan where we saw a Kirtland's Warbler sign. Driving through, we thought we heard
a Kirtland's Warbler, so we stopped. We listened to the recording I had and waited for the bird to sing again. It WAS a Kirtland's Warbler!
We got out of the car and looked for it in the stand of little Jack Pines, following the sounds of it's song. I found it after a short amount of looking and watched it for a while. I got my camera and took some pictures of it, although they are not the best, in most of them you see a little bit of warbler through a lot of pine.
I'm so excited I saw my first Kirtland's Warbler, for my year and for my life list! It was sooo cool!
Until next time...
Good Birding Everyone!
|HOME RUN ! - Tuesday, May 28, 2013|
It's been a while since I posted but I've been busy!
I had a good couple of weeks of birding. Between scouting for the World Series of Birding on May 10, and the Big Day itself on May 11, I saw and heard 31 new species! Not to mention, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher after the World Series of Birding Awards Presentation on May 12! What a truly amazing bird - very graceful in flight.
It was a nice surprise to see Pete Dunne at the WSB Awards Breakfast, and I don't think he was kidding when he said that they had let the ticks loose for everyone to take back home with them. I found one on my arm in the car!
For the World Series, my team - the North Branch Noddies - got 113 species. Not bad considering it was raining half the time. I felt really bad for the birders on bikes that day!
Let's hear it for the UMLY (that Upper Main Line YMCA) B. B. Kingfishers who took FIRST PLACE. That's right! A youth team won overall this year with 186 species! Congrats!
Well, I guess that's - WAIT! Did I mention that I now have 201 species!
Well, good birding everyone.
|The Travelling Birder - Tuesday, April 09, 2013|
The past two weeks have been very busy. I got 51 new birds! I got the majority of those birds in Florida. Although I did get a few while travelling, too. For instance, I got my first new bird, Swallow-tailed Kite, in Georgia. What an amazing birds! I also saw my newest bird, Black-tailed Godwit, while travelling. this bird in Chincoteague took a lot of effort. We were waiting awhile for it, then decided to go to breakfast and come back. After a whole lot more waiting, and some driving around to see if we could get closer to some distant Godwit-looking birds, we finally saw it thanks to some other birders we had met there.
At one point, the godwits took off and flew to the other side of Swan Cove, then back. The white wings and orange neck were really noticeable. It was definitely worth the wait.
While some bird chases are successful, others are not. Such was the case for our search around the Key West Botanical Gardens for the elusive Western Spindalis! Although we did see a lot of Iguana - something you definitely don't see in New Jersey every day!
Some interesting mammals we saw were two Key Deer at Pine Key in Florida, and some Delmarva Fox Squirrels that we saw on Assateague in Virginia. We saw a lot of Alligators in Florida, of course.
There's a lot more but I'll have to save it until the next time.
|Still More . . . - Saturday, March 16, 2013|
On the 11th (March), we went to a few different places in an attempt to find more birds. We went to Cape May Point State Park first. We saw our first Cedar Waxwings for the year there. It was also the first time I've seen them so close. I actually saw one eat a berry, too. They are really beautiful birds.
We then went to Reed's Beach where we saw an Oystercatcher mixed in with hundreds of Snow Geese. Next, we went to Dividing Creek and Turkey Point. In the town of Dividing Creek, I saw a few groups of Turkeys, and what I believe was a Golden Eagle. Unfortunately, we were unable to re-locate it after it flew behind some trees. I am almost positive it was a Golden Eagle though. We're hoping to go back and see it soon.
Now I have 107 birds!
Good birding everyone!
|104 Birds ! - Tuesday, March 12, 2013|
On Sunday, March 10th, we broke 100 birds! First, we went to Sunset Beach in Cape May Point. With many Red-throated Loons there, I broke 100 species. My next bird was seen driving on Stone Harbor Blvd. by the Wetlands Institute. It was a Horned Grebe in the marsh on the side of the road. What a beautiful bird! In winter plumage it almost looks like a miniature Western Grebe. next we went to the Wetlands Institute where we saw a Greater Yellowlegs - thanks to a tip from another birder that we had also seen earlier in the day.
We also saw an American Black Duck, which was sleeping, and dowitchers. We saw a male Belted Kingfisher too, which is new for me in New Jersey but not for my Big Year list. Still they are cool birds to see. The dowitchers were hard. First we saw two dowitchers which we believed were long-billed but we weren't positive, so we didn't count them. Not long after, we saw a lone dowitcher which we agreed was a short-billed.
On our adventure we also went to Stone Harbor. Someone there told us it lost about fifteen feet of sand! They said it is even worse where they live. It's hard to believe that's from the same storm that hit Cape May.
I now have 104 birds on my list!
Good birding everyone.
|99... - Wednesday, March 06, 2013|
Almost to 100!
On February 25, we went to the “Meadows” in search of new birds. We found the “Blue” goose family that had been seen earlier in the week at Rea’s Farm. It was amazing to see them! They were in the plover pond, and unfortunately quickly disappeared behind a hill. We saw our first bluebirds for the year, too. The males are sooo blue! We also saw our first flicker of the year - very nice.
On Friday, March 1, we went to Corbin City Impoundments in search of the Eurasian Wigeon that has been seen there recently. When we got to where all the ducks seemed to be, we sifted through them to find the wigeons. Once we found the group of wigeons, we looked through them for the brown head of the Eurasian Wigeon. I found it fairly quickly, although I had trouble keeping the scope on it. It kept swimming in all different directions. It is a beautiful bird.
Then on Sunday, March 3, we went to Barnegat Light in search of sea birds. I was surprised by how many loons thee were - and so close, too! They were all Common Loons. We also saw many Long-tailed Ducks, and heard them too! While walking along the bridge we found a Harlequin Duck. It was an adult male - what beautiful colors! We refound it when walking back, but by mistake. I was taking a picture of a few Brant on the rocks, and suddenly the Harlequin appeared!
Current number of species so far is 99!
Almost to 100!
Till next time, good birding everyone!
|Finally ! - Monday, February 25, 2013|
On Sunday, February 10, we went to Egg Harbor City to chase the Crested Caracara, which had eluded us in West Cape May earlier in the year.
Thankfully, after a minute or two of watching and waiting with everyone, the caracara showed up! A very majestic bird. After successfully finding the caracara, and watching it for a few minutes, we headed over to Island Beach State Park. While driving in the park, we saw two red foxes! I got a picture of one which was very cooperative. After that we went onto the beach in the state park. We saw some little peeps running around, which we identified as Western Sandpipers.
I then noticed a bird that was very close to shore, a little farther down the beach. I tried to get my scope on it, but the bird kept going under water, so I decided to go closer so I could use my binoculars. Once the bird came back above the water, I was excited to see it was a Long-tailed Duck! What a beautiful bird. I also saw a loon, but it was too far out to identify it.
This past Thursday, February 21, we made a trip up to Palmyra Cove Nature Center to look for the Rufous Hummingbird. After a while of waiting and watching the hummingbird feeders, the female rufous finally showed up! What a beautiful little bird! Fast, too!
Then we saw the Peregrine Falcon fly off the bridge. After watching it on a live camera, waiting anxiously for it to fly off so I could see it. On the Peregrine camera, I saw both birds in the nest at once. Only briefly, though. Beautiful flyers.
We then went to New Egypt to look for the Yellow-headed Blackbird. Unfortunately, we couldn't find it in the tsunami of blackbirds. We did, however, get very nice looks at the Lapwings and Sandhill Cranes again. we saw both in flight - amazing!
Sorry it took me so long to write this time. Take a look at my progress on my year list.
In conclusion to this novella, I now have 82 birds for my Big Year!
Till next time, good birding everyone!
|Birder's Block - Friday, February 15, 2013|
I haven't seen any new birds since the first of February, but I am hoping to go to see the Crested Caracara in Atlantic County and the Barnacle Goose in Allentown soon.
I'm also hoping to go to New York sometime soon to see the Snowy Owl that's been around the Montauk area. I also might look for the tufted Duck if we go by that area anytime soon.
I'm hoping that the Northern Lapwings will stay for a while longer, because I hear that they are coming closer to the fence (only 50 feet away!) that way I could get some better pictures. I got a few pictures the first time, but they are more documentary shots.
My number still - but only momentarily - is 76.
Good birding everyone!
|Canada, Canada, Canada, Pink-footed! - Monday, February 04, 2013|
On Sunday, January 27th, we went to Tom's River to look for the Pink-footed Goose for the third time.
We stopped at Marshall's pond first, and seeing no geese at all, left for the golf course. Driving around the golf course, we didn't see any geese either. Finally, we got to one part of the golf course where all of the geese were. We turned onto a side road which had a dead end,and saw that one person was already there looking at the flock of geese.
We asked if he had seen the Pink-footed Goose yet, and he was already looking at it. We got terrific looks of the Pink-footed Goose. At one point, it picked up its head from grazing and had snow all over its beak. Absolutely beautiful birds. Life and year bird for me!
I ended January with 75 birds for the year. I also added Bald Eagle, on its nest, on the first of February which makes my current number 76.
Good birding everyone!
|Lapwings, Merlins, and Kestrels...Oh My! - Tuesday, January 29, 2013|
Last Monday, January 21st, I saw the three Northern Lapwings in New Egypt, NJ! They are absolutely amazing birds! They were not only year birds but also Life Birds for me!
While we were at the farm on Brynmore Road, not only did we see the lapwings but also had a very interesting encounter with a Merlin and two American Kestrels. We saw a Merlin (which had been at the farm since we got there) with its newly caught prey. After watching it for a minute or two, another birder who was there spotted what they thought was another Merlin. I got it in my scope and was pleased to see that it was a female American Kestrel. The kestrel then chased the Merlin from its perch, and sat there itself. After that, another kestrel came and chased the first one away! If we would have looked away for a minute, we probably would have missed the whole thing!
So at Brynmore, I got three more year birds!
Good Birding :)
|So Far - Sunday, January 13, 2013|
So far I've gotten 66 birds for the U.S. and 49 birds for New Jersey.
I've gotten some good birds so far, like the Western Grebe in Cape May Harbor, the King Eider at St. Mary's Jetty and the Red Crossbills at St. Mary's, a female Canvasback and Snow Geese at the Cape May Meadows, purple finches at the feeders at CMBO's Northwood Center, the Western Tanager at Cape May Court House, and a Baltimore Oriole and Ruby-crowned Kinglet at the Cape May Point State Park. Not a bad start to the year.
There are also a few really good birds that I just can't seem to get - like Townsend's Warbler that was in Cape May Point; Crested Caracara that left West Cape May before I could get there and the Cackling Goose at the Meadows!
I'm hoping to get up to North Jersey soon for the recent rarities like Pink-footed Goose and Barnacle Goose.
I'll keep you updated on my Big Year and get some pictures soon. Look for my complete year list in my next update.
Till then...good birding everyone!