Sunday, 18 October 2009

USA New York and Cape May, New Jersey Holiday Sept 22nd - Sept 30th 2009

I was saving up for something, unnecessarily it turns out in the end. So instead I decided to try and for fill a Nature/ Travel ambition of mine and just had the exciting headache of deciding where to go! I am at my happiest trying to get shots of Birds of Prey, getting close enough to them is a huge challenge. Where do you go to get the best chance of seeing them up close or in big numbers? Most Birds of Prey are solitary creatures. I wanted to witness the autumn event of raptor migration and combine it with a sightseeing trip somewhere I have never been before, so after deliberation and research I chose North America combining the bright lights of New York for a couple of days and then on to the famous migration hot spot of Cape May, New Jersey for the trip of a lifetime!

The first day was sightseeing only, the second day in New York included a trip to Central Park, I knew a raptor watch that took place at Belvedere Castle, as the Raptors travelled south following the coastline. Amongst the tourists I was the only one with a big lens ed camera, but soon enough a local enthusiast asked asked if I was "hawk watching". So I had friendly local knowledge on my side someone who could tell me which species of raptor I was picking out of the sky!

Before I had even put my camera together, the local Red Tailed Hawks, were evident, not after I put it together though! Nothing came close enough for a decent shot, but in the next two hours I witnessed migrating raptors a plenty, Sharp Shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, a kettle of Broad Winged Hawks and the local Red Tailed Hawk and American Kestrel all this above a park in one of the largest cities in the world!

The next day was spent on two buses and finding our accommodation in Cape May, but after that the next day (September 26th) after hiring bikes we set off for Cape May Point bright and early.
The day before the conditions were apparently perfect for migration, today was only billed as OK. The first thing I noticed was that Turkey Vultures were very conspicuous, exciting for me - an urban vulture, we don't have a European equivalent, they must be common though, the locals don't really notice them! A lot of people were here on a raised platform looking skywards and each time a raptor was spotted we were alerted, after a few hours it all slowed down, not a busy day for migration, but exciting none the less. As we walked round the reserve a Red Tailed Hawk (a juvenile I was told as I showed my picture to one of the volunteering experts) was sharing the sky with the vultures. More Turkey Vultures were close by further up on the way back to our accommodation, which worried someone with a small dog!

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