Date: 11/13/17 8:56 am From: CHELEMER, MARC J <mc2496...> Subject: [JERSEYBI] "Stationary" birding
I am not normally the patient birder who will stand in one spot for long periods of time, waiting for the birds to come to me. I've always admired writers to this listserv who talk about standing on the ends of jetties for many hours scanning the ocean, or waiting on the edge of a marsh for a bird to re-appear. I'm normally too hyped up and too pressed for time to be able to relax into those moments of quiet conversation with fellow birders, scanning the skies or the water's surface.
The past few days were a delightful exception. On Friday morning before work and at lunch, I had short intervals available to me for birding on Cape May. Forty minutes in the early morning was spent at the Coral Avenue Dune Crossing with Tom Reed and Vince Elia. Both gentlemen allowed that it was a "good day" with the strong NW winds bringing in lots of migrants. To this birder, the phenomenon was incredible: hundreds and hundreds of birds, mostly Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds, Cedar Waxwings, and Yellow-rumped Warblers, moving westward over the platform, with many Cave Swallows mixed in. Just the sheer numbers were inspiring, thinking about the journey each of these individual living things had made to arrive at the precise moment for we three birders to observe them. And I recognize that this wasn't even a "big flight" day; such moments must be jaw-dropping.
Later in the day, I ended up re-encountering both gentlemen, plus several others, at the Beanery parking lot. It happened to be directly under the flight line of the "big raptors," and in the space of 60 minutes, four Golden Eagles, two Bald Eagles, and numerous other raptors flew, essentially, directly over our heads, providing wonderful photo opportunities. I put two cropped pictures on my Flickr page (they're photos of the screen of my camera; I'll upload the originals later).
Saturday, I had a couple of hours and went to the Montclair Hawkwatch, where I met official counter Chris Payne and visitor Evan Cutler. For a couple of hours, we stood overlooking all of Bergen, Passaic, and Essex Counties, with views to the Alpine radio tower, the Statue of Liberty and valleys way to the west. The raptor flight was OK, but the solitude and peacefulness was lovely. Chris did a great job with every visitor who arrived.
Yesterday, I had a similar 90 minutes and went back to the same place. Chris was there again, of course, and we scanned the skies all round for migrants. It was a slow start; things were picking up just as I had to leave (I missed 18 Sandhill Cranes, who passed overhead three minutes after my departure. Grrr.). There is a glorious sensation of being able to share in the whole natural world's movement when one is up that high. The very short flits of juncos feeding on seed that Chris had dropped, the medium-length forays of a Red-bellied Woodpecker undulating its way across the small valley through which ran the access road, and the ultra-long flights being taken by the mile-high Red-shouldered Hawks soaring overhead, on their way to warmer climes in Florida or beyond-all were taking place simultaneously.
So, I have a greater appreciation of birding-while-standing-still. Perhaps next year, I will bring a folding chair and park myself at Avalon to enjoy the enormous numbers of passing seabirds, the way I've done at Raccoon Ridge or Pennsylvania's Hawk Mountain for raptors in years past. In the meantime, I doff my binocular cover to those counters who spend hours and hours every day, watching the amazing movement of so many birds, counting and tallying for researchers in the future.