Date: 12/31/19 7:04 pm From: Jon Stippick <Jonstippick...> Subject: [JERSEYBI] South Jersey- Razorbills, Orioles and Owls
I was in need of some seawatching practice for the Barnegat CBC this weekend so I chose to spend the morning in Cape May at the Two Mile Unit NWR. It’s a 1 mile walk from the parking area to the jetty and I really wanted to be on the jetty with my scope setup before sunrise. That didn’t happen but I did walk through the dune trail and half way down the beach before dawn. I wasn’t surprised to hear a woodcock flyover, or another peenting but I did not expect to hear their flight displays. At least 3 individuals were making displays. I’ve only heard that in February and March. About 30 minutes after getting set up on the jetty I saw a distant group of 6-8 (very likely) Razorbills, visibility was poor and I wasn’t 100% sure they were RAZO. At 7:40am I had a RAZO fly nice and close with a clear scope view as it crossed the inlet heading NE. 2 minutes later a flock of 5 flew by on the same flight path with 3 Long-tailed Ducks. For an amateur sea watcher, seeing live action comparison of Razorbills and Long-tailed Ducks is priceless, similar coloration but distinctly different shape. Another group of 8 flew by relatively close a few minutes later and the seabird movement seemed to slow down. There were about 1,000 scoters and 100+ RT Loons and Gannets. I was home(Franklin Township, Gloucester Co.) before noon. I walked passed the kitchen window around 12:30 and saw 3 Baltimore Orioles! My 6 year old, Jack, saw me dash for the camera and exclaimed “what is it!?!?”, when I told him it was 3 orioles, he was not impressed. I managed a few pictures through the window before they flew off. (See eBird) I convinced Susie and Jack that a great way to end the year/decade would be to watch the sunset and (hopefully) see Short-eared Owls at Jakes Landing. We arrived 30 minutes before sunset and enjoyed Meadowlarks and Northern Harries. 2 other birders had the same idea and we all managed to pick out 4 Short-eared Owls after sunset. We were lucky to have 2 fly right over us. There was also a Sedge Wren calling just after sunset. I was happy to have a wonderful day of birding to end the year and just wanted to share.