Hooked on Shorebirds
Cape May, NJ and the Delaware Bayshore
May 20 – 25, 2012
An amazing 30+ species of shorebirds are possible on this excursion to the Delaware Bayshore - the most important staging area for migrant shorebirds in eastern North America. The stars of the show will be the masses of birds feeding on the eggs left by Horseshoe Crabs, including the beautiful and threatened Red Knot. We’ll spend part of our time in the quaint setting of world famous Cape May and visit a number of locations, including renowned Bombay Hook, in searching for southern specialties like American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, and American Oystercatcher, as well as uncommon migrants like godwits, phalaropes, Ruff, and Curlew Sandpiper. Along the way, we will encounter birds of the marshes like rails, herons, egrets, gulls, terns, and sparrows, and also search for a wide variety of raptors, migrant songbirds and special local breeders. A chance at Brown-headed Nuthatch and Black Rail will add to the adventure. This area has hosted Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint, Reddish Egret, and North America's first record of Whiskered Tern!
Day One: Arrive in the afternoon for check-in. Meet at 4:00 p.m. and proceed to dinner (included) at a nearby restaurant, after a stop at the South Cape May Meadows for an introduction to our birding and a chance at the endangered Piping Plover and Least Tern, or the oddly beautiful Black Skimmer. This will give us all a chance to get acquainted and discuss the other possibilities presented by Cape May and the Delaware Bayshore.
Day Two: Meet early for the drive over to Higbee Beach and a morning of warblers and other passerines – possibilities in the mix of field and woodlands include local breeders like Blue Grosbeak, Prairie Warbler, and Yellow-breasted Chat and late migrants like Gray-cheeked Thrush, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Philadelphia Vireo, Canada Warbler, and Mourning Warbler. We’ll spend the rest of the day working our way up the bayshore side, stopping at various beaches to marvel at the spectacle of thousands of shorebirds feasting on horseshoe crab eggs, including the endangered Red Knot, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Dunlin, and Sanderling, not to mention the ever-present Laughing Gull. An upland stop for songbirds could yield a nice mix of species including White-eyed Vireo, Kentucky Warbler, and Yellow-throated Warbler.
Day Three: Depart early for a morning of coastal birds at Brigantine NWR – the various habitats here offer a chance at different shorebirds, as well as a wealth of herons (Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron), egrets, marshbirds, and late waterfowl, not to mention the chance of a Peregrine Falcon winging its way over the Spartina grass. These same grasses are home to Clapper Rail, Seaside Sparrow, and Saltmarsh Sparrow. After lunch, we will work our way south, making several stops to take in the range of birding opportunities in this avian rich area. Eight or more species of tern are possible on this trip, and we’ll make every effort to see the likes of Roseate Tern, Black Tern, and Sandwich Tern. Arriving back in Cape May around 4:30, dinner and the evening are on your own to explore more of Cape May.
Day Four: We’ll spend our last morning in Cape May searching for species we may have missed or scanning the skies for a hoped-for Mississippi Kite or Swallow-tailed Kite. We’ll catch a mid-day ferry across the Delaware Bay to Lewes. This will afford a chance at “real” seabirds, such as Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, Northern Gannet, or Parasitic Jaeger or more common loons, grebes, gulls, or ducks. Once in Delaware, we’ll check a couple areas in the southern part of the state. One target will be Brown-headed Nuthatch, which reaches the northern limit of its range in this area. Heading north, we’ll settle into Dover for the next two nights. We will finish the day out with a relaxing dinner (included) and review the day’s sightings.
Day Five: The beaches and refuges around Dover will entertain us this day, including the well-known Bombay Hook NWR. We’ll see the shorebird feeding frenzy from this side of the bay, and enjoy the challenge of searching for uncommon species. This area often hosts a rarity or two, such as a Curlew Sandpiper or one of the stints, and we’ll target them if they’re around. Not all shorebird ids are a challenge, and we’ll enjoy the striking beauty of American Avocets and Black-necked Stilts, more likely here than along the ocean. We’ll also appreciate other birds of the beach and woods, such as terns, rails, warblers, and sparrows. This will be our best chance at King Rail and Black Rail, a rare breeder and hard-to-find bird.
Day Six: This morning will find us birding the nearby bayshore, concentrating on species that may have eluded us thus far. We will bird until 10:00 a.m., at which time we will return to the motel for a sightings summary and the conclusion of the tour. Afterwards, you are welcome to stay and explore more of the Delaware Bayshore on your own.
This tour includes five nights of accommodations – three at a beachfront motel in Cape May, NJ and two in Dover, DE. All rooms are furnished with the usual amenities. ALL meals are included, from dinner on Day One to breakfast on Day Six (excluding alcoholic beverages), except dinner on Day Three – an opportunity for you to explore Cape May on your own. Entrance fees for the refuges and fares for the ferry crossing are also included.
Also included are professional guide services for the duration of the tour. Brett M. Ewald will be the tour leader on this exciting excursion. As well as being an accomplished birder, naturalist, and biologist, Brett possesses an intimate understanding of the birdlife in the Cape May and Delaware Bayshore area. He has been fortunate to experience this area’s natural history on many occasions, including conducting research for the Cape May Bird Observatory. He looks forward to sharing the wonders of Cape May with you!
Besides the spectacular birding, Cape May is also famous for its beautiful beaches, picturesque Victorian homes, and historic lighthouse. There is also an eclectic mix of quaint shops and galleries. For those looking to experience another side of southern New Jersey, Atlantic City is within an hour’s drive.
Prices listed are per person, based on your level of occupancy.
Terms and Conditions
A $500.00 per person deposit is required at time of booking. Any balance due is required April 15, 2012. Confirmation and an informational packet, including details and directions, will be sent upon receipt of deposit. Make your check or money order payable to Lakeshore Nature Tours. If the tour is full, a waiting list will be taken, and filled according to the date of registration. A $125 service fee will apply to cancellations before April 15, 2012. Cancellations after April 15, 2012 will forfeit the entire $500.00 deposit. Transportation and any corresponding tolls throughout the course of the tour are the responsibility of the participant(s).
For more information, call, email or write:
12398 Platten Road
Lyndonville, NY 14098
Lyndonville, NY 14098