World Series of Birding 2015: Monarchists



The 2015 World Series of birding is over, and the Monarchists have lost the Carbon Footprint trophy.  It was a tough day for birding, with dense fog early and late in the day, and one of those days when very few migrant birds had found their way to Cape May.  Beyond that, we really didn’t have much good luck.  But there were good things about the day -- good camaraderie, extremely good food (thanks to our wonderful support team), good times (it’s always fun to bicycle and walk around Cape May with ear and eye tuned to the birds), and very good fundraising for the Cape May Monarch Monitoring Project, which is, after all, the real goal of the event.

Birders on the Monarchists team, l to r: Mark Garland, Michael O’Brien, Lu Daniels, Louise Zemaitis, and Meg Hedeen.  Late afternoon at South Cape May Meadows.

Midday found us riding our bikes around Cape May Point in a desperate search for migrant songbirds.  We found a Red-eyed Vireo and little else, and couldn’t find the Eurasian Collared-Dove nor the Black-capped Chickadee that we knew to be around.  It was one of those days.  We climbed up to an overlook to gaze at the ocean (and enjoy another meal), and while we found a few of the birds that we knew were out there, we missed just as many.  Then we walked the entire yellow trail at Cape May Point State Park, over a mile in length, without adding a single new bird to the day’s tally.  One of those days.  We ended our long stay at Cape May Point on a high note, as we did see a Red-headed Woodpecker that had been coming to the bird feeders in the back yard of some friends.

We started at midnight, as May 8 turned into May 9, and immediately has success with an Eastern Screech-Owl which responded to imitations of its call.  The Barred Owl we hoped to hear at another location, however, didn’t cooperate, and the neighborhood Great Horned Owls also stood us up.  We heard a few birds that frequently call at night, including Clapper Rail, Northern Mockingbird, and Yellow-breasted Chat.  The night was fairly calm and the low cloud cover made for ideal conditions for listening to migrating songbirds; unfortunately, there were virtually no birds migrating this night, and easterly winds pushed any that might have been migrating away from Cape May.  The night was eerily quiet, save for the regular bleating of the foghorns around the cape.

We tried a new top secret location for dawn this year, but there were few rewards.  So we had our first meal stop, for the now-traditional freshly baked scones, courtesy of Ron Rollet, and then we peddled over to New England Road, where we made several stops, including a long walk at the Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area.  We found a good number of the can’t-miss resident birds and a few nice finds, including Bobolink, Purple Sandpiper, and Lesser Black-backed Gull.  We were happy about a few interesting birds at the little pond near the junction of Stipson and Shunpike.  Then it was over to Stevens St. for late morning hawkwatching and the second meal of the day.

Monarchist birders and support staff at the finish line. l to r: Lindsey Brendel, Mark Garland, Paige Cunningham, Louise Zemaitis, Michael O’Brien, Lu Daniels, Meg Hedeen, Ron Rollet, and Kashi Davis.

Before we left the Point, however, team friend and supporter Amy showed up with monarch butterfly wings and antennae, which Meg promptly donned and wore for the rest of the day.  That certainly cheered us up!  We finished our World Series of Birding at the South Cape May Meadows, adding a few species but missing out on a number of birds we had hoped to find there.  Once we added everything up, our total was a disappointing 111, four below our previous low.  Two teams tied atop the Carbon Footprint category with 126.  We are humbled.

Thankfully our sponsors have come through better than ever, with many pledging a fixed amount, not a per species pledge, so we have exceeded our previous fundraising high, over $10,500 thus far.  The Monarch Monitoring Project will be well funded when we get to work on September 1.  Thanks to all who have made contributions, listed below.  It’s not too late -- can can still make your contribution with a visit to the Monarchists’ site on the World Series of Birding web page.  Or as an alternative, you can send a contribution check to the Monarchists at PO Box 154, Cape May Point, NJ  08212.  Make your check out to NJ Audubon, and write “Monarch Project 024” in the memo line.  Thanks to all of our supporters, and wait ‘til next year, we’ll be hungry to get our trophy back!

Thanks to all of our supporters:

Ana Arguelles & Jeff Wneck

Barbara Bassett

Ann & Roger Bird

John Bjerke

Peter Brandriss

Erik Bruder

Trish Callis

Cape May National Golf Course

Constance Campanella

Megan Carroll & Michelle Price

Ethel Cebra

Chalfonte Partners

Mary Ann Cola

Karenn Wahl Colby

Donna Connor

Timothy & Charlotte Croft

Susan Csia

Ania Curbelo

Carol Daugherty

Cathy Davidson

Christina Davis

Donna & Caryl

Robert Dube

Phil Eager

Mark England

Suzanne & Mark Eveland

Larry Felton

Neal Fitzpatrick & Roxane Kaufmann

Dutton Foster

Robert Garland

Matthew Garvey

Tom & Judy Gire

Pete Givan

Barb Golla

Barbara Gordon

Alan Gosman

Pete Grannis & Dianna Wentink

Chris & Lee Hajduk

David Hedeen

Meghan Hedeen

Michael Henahan

Pam Higginbotham

Ann Hobbs & David Livengood

Samuel Hough

Caroline Huber

Linda Keister

Scott Keister

James Knipper

Jane G. Kurtz

Bev Linn

David Lowenstern

Karen Lubert

Pearl Marks

Michael McCabe & Evelyn Lovitz

Susan McMahon

Holly Merker

Patricia & Tony Nastase

Paul O’Brien

Chris O’Cleary

Brian O’Leary

Emilia Oleson & the Seaside Sparrows

Judith Parker

Jennifer Pennington

Richard & Martha Pine

Paul Pisano

Todd Pover

Richard Prescott

Elaine F. Remmers

Bill Roache

Betty Ross & Harry

Sally Sachs

Margaret Scaglione

Margaret Schmelz

Bill & Edie Schuhl

Jack Schultz

Carolyn Horn Seidle

Richmond Shreve

Joseph & Nancy Silvio

Chuck & Mary Jane Slugg

Brooke Smith

Gayle Steffy

Clay & Pat Sutton

Kate Swett

Karen Thompson

Deb Tozourgarden

Sandy Tyler

Michelle Uhl & Ben Werner

Dick Walton & Patsy Eickelberg

John Whitaker & Wendy Fredericks

William Wilkinson

Pecki Witonsky

David Wizer

William Zemaitis