Cape May Potpourri

CM Point SP Bluebird_9640 aEarly in May, a friend and I went to Cape May in search of migrating warblers. First stop: Cape May Point State Park. Surprisingly, we had no luck in the warbler department, although we got this obliging Eastern Bluebird to pose for us.

CM Higbee Beach Towhee_9902 aCM Higbee Beach_9823 a

Our next stop was Higbee Beach WMA, along the Delaware Bayshore. This is a wonderfully confusing tangle of woods, meadows, dune scrub and beach. We got lost at least twice. It was worth it though, as we did find the warblers we’d been seeking, as well as this Eastern Towhee (above). Flowering trees drew swarms of bees, but I was more bothered by the jumbo mosquitos. Some of them were bigger than the birds!

CM Thompsons Beach Rail_0160 comboNext up: Thompson’s Beach, further north along Delaware Bay. Our sole purpose here was to see the elusive Clapper Rail. We searched first from the observation deck at the end of the road, then took a long walk out to the beach and back. For the duration of our trek we could hear the constant laughing call of the bird, but we didn’t spot a single Rail. Finally back at the deck we saw one, who gave us a good look while he was preening. Imagine my joy when my camera suddenly declared “Card Full”… Fortunately I came away with one good shot. Here you can see why they’re so hard to find (above). Not only do they blend in so well, they are usually are deep in the grass.

CM Matts Landing Rookery_3189Our last port-of-call was Matt’s Landing Road at Heislerville WMA. There’s an island there covered with trees – and Cormorants. And Egrets. And Herons… Basically it’s a rookery, a place for birds to roost and nest. I was happy not to be too close – I can only imagine the smell. CM Matts Landing Night Heron_3291 acsOn the drive around the impoundment we spotted this Black-crowned Night Heron (above) in a tree, and a Snowy Egret in the wonderful evening light. CM Matts Landing_3339 Egret a

FUN FACT: The male Eastern Bluebird chooses the nest site, in tree cavities or nest boxes. He entices the female to nest there by displaying and carrying nesting material in and out of the hole. That’s it! The rest is up to her – building the nest, and incubating the eggs. She keeps him around though, as pair bonds last for several seasons. A male will defend his nest sites against any bird he considers a threat, so maybe he’s good for something after all!CM Point SP Bluebird_9657 a

Coming soon: Ready or Knot

The Buds and the Bees

HNWR Crabapple with Bee_9593 a

Ha! You thought I would say “The Birds and the Bees”, didn’t you? Believe it or not, I do take photos of things besides birds. Herewith, a sampler of Spring Flowers and their Friends.

HNWR Dogwood_0569 acsHNWR Crabapple_9468HNWR Yellow Iris_9488 a Dogwood, Yellow Iris and Crabapple blossoms at Heinz NWR. Of all the flowering trees, I think I like the Crabapples the best. What’s missing from these photos is the wonderful aroma that wafts over you as you pass near them.

Macro Flower_3432 aA simple Dandelion in my yard, when I was playing with my macro set-up. I should have picked it long before it got to this point, but then I wouldn’t have been able to take its picture. Oh, well, more dandelions for me to photograph in the future!

Longwood_9329One day we went to Longwood Gardens. These are just some of the wonderful blooms we saw. And no, I don’t know all their names.

Longwood_9402 Longwood_9342  Longwood_9319Longwood_9294

HNWR Crabapple with Bee_9584 aFlowers need pollinators to reproduce, and here are a few busily at work in Crabapple and Wisteria.

Longwood Bee_9257

It’s not at all unusual for me to get photos of the back end of critters. I guess you could say I’m often a little bee-hind.

FUN FACT: There are nearly 4,000 species of native bees in North America, at least 50 of which are bumblebees. This does NOT include the honeybees, which are non-native, having been imported from other parts of the world for pollination and honey production. One way bumblebees extract pollen is by a process called “buzz pollination.” The familiar buzzing of bumblebees is produced by the vibration of flight muscles, which in turn shakes the pollen out of the flowers. Pretty clever.Longwood Bee_9262 a