Friday, September 27, 2013

The Bittern that wasn't!

On the elevated nature paths on the yellow trail, left of the hawk observation deck at Cape May Point State Park, I spotted an American Bittern, so I thought, ruffled and quiet. It was located down left of the bridge in the canal that proceeds on to Lighthouse Pond East and looked a bit pensive. 

After getting some shots, I changed lenses, and aimed high to catch a juvenile Northern Harrier soaring by, with its dark head and "cinnamon-orange" body (Hawks in Flight by Dunne, Sibley, Sutton, p. 182). In each shot, it looks like its eyes are closed? 

I then trained my lens back to the Bittern and so glad I did. 
It had sprung to life and was hunting and then . . 

was attacking something in the water! 

After dunking it many times, I could make out that it was a hapless frog.

It then gulped it down and here, a leg is the last bit to be seen.

I hurried home and downloaded these pictures. I checked my Sibley Guide to Birds to be certain of my ID that I felt confident about and I found that actually this was not an American Bittern at all!! 

The coloration is similar, but no bold stripes or long neck!

I flipped a few pages over and there it was. 

It was a Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron. 

Sibley's helpful progression was invaluable for the identification - the orange eye, the sharp yellowish bill, the large white spots on the wings, etc. 

I was astonished of how much this bird changes from a juvenile to an adult. 

Cape May Honey Farm Store

As a beekeeper myself, I always enjoy talking to other beekeepers, sharing information, and buying their products.

Here in Cape May, there is a wonderful store, Cape May Honey Farm, that opened earlier this year, which carries an amazing variety of honeys to purchase, beautiful candles, pottery, honey related gifts and products and more.

Andy runs the store and is very pleasant and helpful They are located on Sunset Boulevard on the right as you head to the beach and look for their sign:

Be sure to visit their wonderful site:

Their facebook page is a great way to follow them and find out about new gifts and offerings, as well.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Birding Books to Love

Over the weekend, my husband and I visited the Cape May Point Bird Observatory and had the honor and pleasure of meeting Pete Dunne, who was meeting with this year's new interns and preparing for the fall's migration season.  For over 37 years, Pete has led and shaped the course of CMBO and has written numerous excellent books on birding and such, including:

I have been struggling in identifying gulls, terns and other shore birds and also was wanting of more detailed information. We were searching the Center's large book collection for just the right book and Pete came over to welcome us and help us out. 

He recommended these two outstanding birding books:

This book provides several amazing colored pictures for each bird in various stages of maturation in its habitat and identifies birds using size, structure and color patterns. It also provides the detailed information I was looking for regarding migration and behavior and more.

The second book is The Sibley Guide to Birds and it is fantastic. 

I like how this book is organized, as it provides for each bird, a juvenile, an adult non-breeding and then an adult breeding colored drawing, including dates of when to expect this plumage coloration. 

It also includes descriptions, marking highlights, sizing, maps, call information, and has an excellent summary sheet for each Family.