Oh, yes, there were lots of other birds. We saw a Kentucky Warbler, a pair of Yellow-billed Cuckoos, lots of Seaside Sparrows, a few Clapper Rails, some nesting Least Terns and even a lone Piping Plover on a beach in the Delaware Back Bay. All good birds, to be sure, but really, it was all about the Red Knots. We saw hundreds, but there were probably thousands scattered on beaches along the coast of New Jersey around Cape May. The best place to view them seemed to be Cooks Beach, a spot we visited three times during our week in Cape May. We also saw thousands of other shorebirds, including Ruddy Turnstones, Semipalmated Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers, though everyone just wanted to see Red Knots up close and personal. And that we did! Enough with words, as you know what they say about pictures...
We may have been there for the Red Knots, but the Red Knots were there for the buffet of Horseshoe Crab eggs. They fly thousands of miles from their wintering grounds in South America to the arctic regions of Canada, stopping to feed along the east coast of the United States, mostly in Delaware Bay, to double their body weight for the remainder of the journey. By the time they reach Cape May they are emaciated and need to gorge on the crab eggs. Because of declining populations of Horseshoe Crabs, used for fishing bait and by the pharmaceutical industry to make anti-coagulants from their blood, both populations are at risk.
The viewing gallery:
Right behind us in the fields we were able to watch Seaside Sparrows jump in and out of the long grass and every once in a while sit still upon a tall stalk:
A few other Cape May birding memories: