The heart of summer is deep in the chest of the month of July. There's a riot of life everywhere you look, with birds nesting in all habitats, dazzling insects adding pizazz, and the full suite of summer wildflowers. Cape May draws huge crowds of beach-going tourists, with more than ever before in 2021, yet in the midst of human craziness there are still places where wildlife outnumbers wild life. I seek out such places in July, and I am amply rewarded for the trouble.
Least Terns nest on the beach at South Cape May. The nest is just a small depression in the sand into which the eggs are laid (left); the parent birds cruise overhead in strident defense of the nests (center left); the first of two eggs just hatched (center right); young tern takes flight (right).
Above, left to right: Willet, American Oystercatcher, and Laughing Gull all nest around Cape May.
Below, left to right: Pectoral Sandpiper, Whimbrel, and Ruddy Turnstone nest way up north, and they're back already in July, heading south.
Summer wildflowers, left to right: Common Milkweed, Spring Ladies'-tresses, Rose Mallow, Maryland Meadow-beauty
A few summer butterflies. Above, left to right: Olive Hairstreak, Monarch, Viceroy, Common Wood Nymph
Below, left to right: Variegated Fritillary, Question Mark, Silver Spotted Skipper
Above, left to right: Black-crowned Night-Heron adult, Black-crowned Night-Heron nestling, White Ibis adult and yound.
Below, left to right: Great Egret nestling, Adult Great Egret returning to the nest.