Cape May's Beach Birds in March
By Paul Kerlinger
Waiting for spring! I am longing for the relaxing warmth that balmy March and April days always bring. It seems to never come soon enough, even in Cape May.
But even now, beach birds are easy to see, even when the strong winds of March bring tears to your eyes and whip the ocean into a froth.
Take a Beach Walk
A walk along the beach in Cape May, Cape May Point and Wildwood Crest will turn up any number of birds. Some have been spending the winter here and others, early migrants, are just passing through.
Look in the Surf
My favorites are the Red-throated Loons. When they gather along the beaches, just beyond the surf, I know that spring is coming. Look for them bobbing up and down, regularly diving below the surface to catch small fish or even crabs.
Surf and Black Scoters are also eay to see. Recently, we've noticed small groups of scoters very close to shore. You can also see flocks of between ten and a hundred or so birds seemingly migrating northward. These flocks can be a half mile or more off the beach, stretching out in skeins that are a hundred or more yards long.
Among the March shorebirds seen recently on local beaches - Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlin, and Sanderlings - all foraging for food along the shoreline. Purple Sandpipers can be seen on local jetties, dodging the salt spray.
Farther from the beach, you may find some gannets slowly working their way north or attempting to find the schools of mackerel that are certainly moving northward. Bonaparte’s Gulls again appear in greater numbers.
Although the gathering of loons tells me that spring is on the way, it isn’t until I see the primary three harbingers of spring - Piping Plover, Osprey, and Laughing Gulls - that I'm convinced spring has really arrived.
Any day now, I hope. I'll keep you posted.
Ruddy Turnstone with Horseshoe Crab
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