Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Trip Across the Bay

[Bonaparte's Gull behind the ferry at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal, NJ, Saturday morning, February 22, 2014.]
I've never had a bad trip on the Cape May - Lewes Ferry, and that string of good times continued this weekend as we cruised over to Delaware to spend a night at a B&B in Lewes and hit some birding spots on the other side of the Bay. Bonaparte's Gulls fed actively in the prop wash of the big boat before we set sail, and scoters, Red-throated Loons, and a couple Red-necked Grebes dotted the bay's surface close to both the NJ and DE shores.  The Delaware breakwaters hosted a bunch of Great Cormorants, and one cruised past the ferry for a picture.
Once in Delaware we hit Cape Henlopen State Park, where the featured species, Brown-headed Nuthatch, cooperated as it always has for me at this site.  Other stops included Silver Lake, which is where all the Canvasbacks are, in case you were wondering.  Canvasback used to be an abundant duck on the east coast back in the days of market gunning, through the early 1900's, and the flocks on Silver Lake - several hundred - made me wistful to have seen this species in its former glory.
Besides about 4 Red-necked Grebes seen on the ferry crossing, another 4 were foraging in the Indian River boat basin near the Burton Island Nature Trail, so the incursion of this species has made it to Delaware.  Red-necked Grebes are so common since the Great Lakes and other inland water bodies are largely frozen, which pushed them south in numbers we haven't seen in years.
Anymore, no trip to Delaware is complete without a visit to the Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats in Rehobeth Beach, highly recommended. I'm nursing a 60-minute IPA as I write, my go-to beer whenever it's available, which it is in a lot of places in Cape May, thankfully.
[Immature Great Cormorant cruises past the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. Note the well-defined white belly, thick neck and overall heaviness of the bird, which separate it from Double-crested.]
[Brown-headed Nuthatch at Cape Henlopen State Park, DE, where they are reliable.  Listen for the "squeaky duck" calls.  They respond pretty reliably to a whistled imitation of an Eastern Screech-owl, which is what lured this one in for a photo.]
[Canvasbacks at Silver Lake in Delaware.  The lake is annoyingly private property, but you can look from the road with caution. Worth it for the spectacle of several hundred "cans" together.]

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