Peak Migration

What ever happened to bird watching?  I remember when this was just a quaint little closet avocation, practiced by professorial types and other social misfits.  Just last weekend I was just one of the standing-room-only crowd at the Cape May Hawkwatch Platform.  Around mid-afternoon a trio of non-birders (identified by their lack of binoculars) mounted the platform in order to find out what was going on.  Their surprise at finding the structure infested by bird watchers stopped them in their tracks.  “Maybe there’s a bird watching convention in town?” one of the trio speculated.  No, it was just the typical Saturday-in-October crowd when the winds are northwest.

I suppose it is pretty unnerving for non-birders to find themselves in the minority.  But going to Cape May in October and being surprised by the number of birders present is like going to a Mall the weekend before Christmas and being surprised to find shoppers.

Cape May, NJ is synonymous with birding–has been since Alexander Wilson traveled here in the early 1800s.  If you have not savored the bird riches of Cape May, visit Cape May Point State Park any time in October and get a face full of WOW.  Tens of thousands of migrating hawks, songbirds, and waterbird await you.  Days with gusty northwest winds are best but migration is ongoing no matter what the weather.  Arrive before 10:00 a.m. and you are almost assured of getting a seat.  Dress warmly, bring binoculars and high expectations.  And remember that New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Weekend, October 20-21 falls on the absolute peak of autumn migration.

Pete Dunne
NJ Audubon Birding Ambassador
Author Birds of Prey and coauthor Hawks in Flight