14 Hours at the Point (Part 1) / by Walter Kitundu

Cape May, New Jersey is a special place, particularly during migration seasons. Fall is the time for raptors and if you have followed this blog for any length of time, you'll know of my fondness for birds of prey. Autumn is also the time for songbirds and shorebirds and a particularly high concentration of bird enthusiasts. I had read Jack Conner's Season at the Point and hoped one day to visit. I got my chance during a business trip to the east coast and headed to Cape May for an afternoon, a day, and a morning. It was lovely. I'll share what I saw in a series of 7 or 8 posts starting with a scene setter. Everything but the birds...

The famous lighthouse at the point.

Organized tours are a great way to learn a new place and new birds. I like wandering on my own but tailed this group for a few minutes and picked up on a Northern Gannet, a life bird for me, and a Bald Eagle sitting on the beach. Everyone I met was exceedingly friendly and we struck up great conversations while Sharp-shinned Hawks contour-hunted the dunes around us.

We weren't the only ones looking for opportunities along the trails.

Butterflies like this Common Buckeye, and Monarchs in particular, were scattered everywhere and filled the rare seconds when birds weren't about.

A Red Admiral basking on the boardwalk.

There are also many ponds filled with Mute Swans, Northern Shovelers, Green and Blue-winged Teal, Wigeons, Ruddy Ducks, Coots, Canada Geese, and visited by the occasional plunging Osprey, gliding Harrier, and rocket-propelled Merlin.

High winds whipped the ocean into a frenzy and turned the sand into a fine mist but the Black Skimmers didn't seem to mind.

Mornings unveiled spectacular clouds as the sun rose through remnants of a passing storm.

Over the next week I'll share some of the encounters that made me feel the Cape was living up to its wondrous reputation. I was only there for a brief time but it left an indelible impression.