Sunday, May 3, 2009


I'm wondering if it can get any worse. My last post was Wed April 29th about how crazy the last few weeks have been. I thought that it would calm down a little - then my Dad passed away on Friday. He has been suffering for a long time with MS and recently needed long term care and was in and out of the hospital with respiratory issues. This time he just didn't make it. I'm not one for the "he's in a better place" but at least he's not suffering in the nursing home anymore.

On to the birding part of the blog. That's right. My sister and I had pre-arranged my father's cremation and services a few weeks ago, so there were only a few things to take care of on Friday. We (the PhillyBirdNerd gang) had already planned to go to Cape May for the weekend. So we went. It was better than sitting around the house wondering what to do. We took the Bounder (our new RV) on it's maiden voyage to check out the systems and see what we would need to fix it up for our comfort. Connie couldn't go, so it was just me, Di and Barbara.

We arrived at the campground at midnight after leaving the Phillies game in the 7th inning. Don't think we have ice in our vains - it was against the Mets - how could we not go to that game. We were up at 7:00 AM and off to Higbee Beach in overcast 100% humidity weather. Boy, do the mosquitos thrive in those conditions!

You go to Higbee Beach in May for the warblers and other migrant songbirds. This is the place to see them in the early morning because they migrate at night and usually dive into the first land that they see after crossing the Delaware Bay - which is Higbee beach. Hardly any birds were around on Sat morning. I guess the overnight rain kept them from crossing the bay.

We did get great looks at Prairie Warblers right on the path and our first Northern Parula of the year. Also got vireos, kinglets and gnatcatchers along with an oriole and Eastern Kingbird. But the mosquitos became unbearable so we headed back to camp and worked for the rest of the day.

Sunday morning was worse at Higbee. Not a bird in sight and more mosquitos than Central America (I mean all countries combined) so we ran away quick and decided to try the Villas Wildlife Management Area. We have never been there before, but Karl Lukens and other Cape May Bird Observatory bloggers post about it often. We found it easily off of Bayshore Rd. It's nice because it allows dogs on leash (as does Higbee) and has an open landscape. Something seemed weird about the landscape and then we realized that we were walking through a defunct golf course. In fact, the "paths" were actually golf cart paths. What a great idea for an old golf course. Keep the trees and open space rather than turning it into another housing development.

My sister and I didn't really spend the weekend dwelling on my father's death that much. It's really not like us. We had spent the past few months taking care of him and we didn't really talk about that. But we did talk about things that our Dad did with and for us when we were kids. One of those things was to take us to Hawk Mountain in the fall. The memory of those trips is what really launched our passion for birding. In fact, we decided to direct any "in leiu of flowers" donations to Hawk Mountain in his memory. We didn't feel guilty today when we were listening to the Great Horned Owl hooting in the middle of the day, or yesterday when we spooked a really big raptor out of the woods, or when we were at the Phillies game making fun of the cartoon clapping hands on the jumbo-tron. It's what Daddy would have wanted. . .

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