Cumberland County Winter Eagle Festival 2017

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Mauricetown, NJ – It was cold, very cold. Slivers of ice lined the edges of some waterways.  Volunteer Karen Williams was so bundled up behind the scope near Turkey Point,  she was barely recognizable.  Like other volunteers at the annual Cumberland County Winter Eagle Festival, she was searching the sky looking for bald eagles.

Saturday was the county’s 14th annual eagle festival and it drew hundreds of people to sleepy Mauricetown and nearby natural areas.

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Many visitors ducked into the Mauricetown firehouse, where dozens of vendors and organizations set up shop for the day. Artist and tour leader  Louise Zemaitis, known for her distinctive graphic tee shirts, was doing a brisk business. (Louise also sells her work at the West End Garage in West Cape May.)

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The Cape May Bird Observatory featured a roster of speakers giving talks but didn’t miss out on the merchandising opportunity. CMBO had a table covered with birding binoculars, ready for a quick try out.

Even the Delaware Bayshore Museum in Bivalve got involved with a Bald Eagle photography contest.

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Hot coffee and fried oysters were being dished up next door at the Oyster Cracker Cafe for cold, hungry birders. There were a lot of those. Not so many bald eagles. Eagles found the weather was just too tempting for soaring high overhead.

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Patience was the watchword of the day. If you could bear to stand in one place in the cold, eventually an eagle or two would come your way.

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That’s what happened near the marshes at Turkey Point, one of the eagles’ favorite spots.

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Karen and other birders spotted the speck in the sky a mile away. Eventually it grew larger and before you know it, a bald eagle was flying directly overhead. One of many for the day.

With or without the eagles, it was a beautiful day along the Bayshore.

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Note: Bald Eagles are no longer as rare as they used to be. A pair has been hanging around the Cape May Canal, near the West Cape Bridge, for part of the year. 

Cape May Times News Front Page

About Jane Kashlak

Jane Kashlak is a journalist, a gardener and a Cape Island resident. She's also Cape May Times' photographer. She founded Cape May Times after a long and lively career in TV news.