Join me on my adventures at 2014 Camp Avocet. Click here to read my write-up from days one & two of the week and here for days three & four.
Day Five: Of all the days I was to spend at Camp Avocet, I was looking forward to day five the most! Today we went to bird-famous Cape May, New Jersey, by taking the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. Along the way we saw several Wilson's Storm-Petrels, which was a lifer for the vast majority of the campers, and several leaping Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins, among other species.
Our first birding stop was at Higbee Beach where we split up into two groups to bird the trails. We came across small groups of warblers including several energetic American Redstarts, and a few Black-and-White and Yellow Warblers. At the observation platform we briefly observed an uncooperative yet vocal Alder Flycatcher, a Prairie Warbler, Cedar Waxwings, a Gray Catbird, and more. We retraced our steps and took a different path near an overgrown field. A couple Northern Waterthrushes "chinked" from the treelines, and a nice group of Eastern Kingbirds fluttered across the trail.
We met up with the other group of campers and finally headed to the Cape May Point State Park. Once again we split up and looped around the pond and through the woods. Flycatchers were the highlight here; we found Great Crested, Alder, Least, and Willow Flycatchers, plus Eastern Kingbird! But the best bird was an Olive-sided Flycatcher spotted by instructor Bill Stewart as it perched on an open snag. Olive-sided Flycatcher was my 317th lifebird and my final lifer of 2014 Camp Avocet.
Olive-sided Flycatcher - digiscoped photo by Andrew Marden
We saw large numbers of Black Scoters throughout the week, fifty-seven of which were observed here in Cape May County. There were also two Surf Scoters hanging out with the Blacks. These scoters were incredibly cooperative, allowing all of us to take close-ups.
Female Black Scoter
A couple of the many Black Scoters we saw.
Dinner was held at Michael O'Brien and Louise Zemaitis' home, and we had an awesome time cracking jokes and even watching our fellow camper Claire Wayner feed a Ruby-throated Hummingbird! A huge thanks to Michael and Louise for opening their house to us wild bird-enthusiasts. ;)
Day Six: Today, we were all thrilled about participating in Camp Avocet's "Big Green Hour," which is basically like a big day smashed into an hour, but it's on foot, and we could only count species that we actually saw (no heard-onlys). The counting took place near Gordon's Pond at Cape Henlopen State Park. Our group placed first with a total of 47 species seen.
Bill Stewart informed us that we would be going to the Fractured Prune next, and I immediately thought "What on earth is the Fractured Prune?!?!?" I assumed it was just another birding place; after all, we had previously been scheduled to visit a place called Taylor's Gut earlier this week. So the Fractured Prune as a birding location wasn't totally out of the question. Well, I was pretty much shocked when we pulled into the parking lot of a bright purple and green donut shop. The Fractured Prune - of all the names in the world - was a donut shop!!! And the donuts were good too! Definitely check it out if you ever visit Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
We finished birding early today, and we spent the afternoon at the beach. The weather was perfect, with bright, sunny blue skies and a slight breeze. Most of us swam (except me and I think a couple others), and after a while, many played Kanjam.
Back at the Virden Center it was more Frisbee, S'mores, and fun - all temporary remedies to help forget that tomorrow was to be our last day!