There were still a few guided excursions available, one of which on the 30th May was at the Cape May point state park. Parts of which felt a bit dudey, and after spending quite a bit of time there already, was there any need to do this? Most of the time it felt like I could've done this on my own, especially when pointing the guides to a pair of Caspian Terns on the beach. Breeding Caspian Terns in New Jersey are quite scarce, so it was pleasing to see these two getting rather amorous, although you're not quite there son!
There was also a Brown Pelican out at sea, and the first White-rumped Sandpiper of the trip on one of the lagoons. It was also interesting to see the man who checks the Purple Martins in action, winding the nest boxes back up!
In all five nest box colonies 420 eggs had been laid, with 10 hatched. Sounds like an excellent start for them this year. Where the guided walk came into it's own was for bird song. There was one particular song pointed out which was of a Northern Parula, but away from the footpath. When the walk finished it had started raining quite heavily. Which was good because it finally broke the heat, but I left my coat back at the motel.
So after going back to get my coat and a bit of breakfast, let's get back to the state park. Unfortunately the White-rumped Sand had moved on, but I managed to find the Northern Parula by the footpath,singing in the rain!
The rain continued for most of the day, but had stopped in time for the next guided excursion of the day, back at saltmarshes of Nummy Island. The problem was, although the rain had stopped and no wind, the midges were unbelievably vicious. Plenty of insect repellant was the order of the day! It was worth sticking it out however, for excellent views of Clapper Rail:
And the fantastic Yellow-crowned Night Heron, yabba-dabba-doo:
A great place for birding, but with both midges and ticks, not much luck with insects at Nummy Island! The next morning was back at Belleplain State Forest for another guided trip, the last one going for my time here. As with spring woods here, things start to quieten down in terms of bird song at the end of May. Well, apart from this Grey Catbird, he wouldn't shut up!
The lack of bird song cost the normally common Hooded Warbler, in fact it was even quieter than at the beginning of the week. But there still quite a few of lifers on offer. Including Wood Thrush, Acadian Flycatcher, Eastern Wood Pewee, a family party of Eastern Bluebirds (completing the "Blues Brothers" hat-trick, along with Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak!), Yellow-breasted Chat. As much as we tried to see a singing Louisiana Waterthrush, there was no way of seeing it in some thick, impenetrable Cedar bog forest. Some further exploring after the guided trip produced a female Scarlet Tanager and a Black-and-White Warbler "tree-creeping" up a trunk.
During the Belleplain excursion, one of the guides checked the New Jersey bird news on his phone, and said seven Mississippi Kites were seen over the Rea Farm. That would've been nice to see. I also knew I hadn't seen Bald Eagle yet, the national bird of course. There are a few pairs of Bald Eagles around Cape May at this time of year, but far more common in winter.
So that was the challenge for my last full day, the 1st June, to get a couple of raptors for the trip list. The day started in neighbouring Cumberland County, at Heislerville.
One of the lagoons at Heislerville contains a tree-filled island, containing a mixed colony of Double-crested Cormorants, Snowy Egrets, Great White Egrets and Night Herons of the Black-crowned flavour.
So that was a good morning spent. But if there's any chance of Mississippi Kite, then it's got to be back around Cape May point for the afternoon. An overcast morning turned into a gloriously sunny afternoon. Which brought out the vultures, allowing good comparisons between Turkey Vulture:
But with most of the day to spend on the 2nd June before heading back to Philadelphia, there was one more place to try. This was the "Edwin B. Forsythe" refuge, just north of Atlantic City.
Despite being very tempted to make my fortune at the casinos in Atlantic City, I went birding instead. Once again, its a case of more saltmarshes and lagoons, with an eight-mile driving circuit where you can stop and scan whereever you like.
Unlike further south in Cape May, Gull-billed Terns are frequent here, with a couple seen. But apart from that, there wasn't much excitement until the end of the circuit. That's when an adult Bald Eagle flew across, and I didn't realise that it landed further along from the track, just to stop for a drink. It allowed for fantastic views from the car!
Not that the local Willets and Oystercatchers were too pleased....
That seemed like a good point to finish the birding for this trip, and headed back to Philly with plenty of time to spare. I didn't do much research into Philadelphia, otherwise I could've done some sight-seeing. The little that I know of Philadelphia, it's famous for some soft cheese, a liberty bell that they still haven't fixed the crack in, and those steps that Rocky Balboa ran up (the museum of art). Thinking about it now, I could've done a Rocky!
Oh deary me no, that's far too energetic! But the jumping up and down was similar when seeing the Mississippi Kite. Instead, the trusty Toyota Yaris was handed back at the airport, checked my luggage in, through security, and successfully find a bar!