A weekly report from the nation’s birdwatching capital… by Seymore Thanu
Yet another thing I like is writing about the birds I like to like. And talking to other people who like to like birds and listening to other people who like to like birds.
There are a lot of people in Cape May who like birds. Nice, friendly people. The kind of people you would like to like.
We likeable birders all stand around, very likeable-like; happy and joyful, fulfilled and spreading cheer everywhere we go. We talk about birds we’ve seen and liked, and about birds we’d really like to see – like Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, for instance (which are a rarity that have been seen quite regularly since July 18).
Okay, maybe I lied. Sometimes liking birds leads to a small measure of un-likeable frustration. Even in Cape May.
This smallest level of frustration, that leads to not liking Cape May as much as before, happens when a bird you really like shows up in Cape May but you don’t see it.
It’s silly, but we birders have a penchant for liking birds we haven’t seen more than liking the ones we have seen. Kind of schizophrenic, wouldn’t you say? Bipolar, even.
You see, finally seeing a bird we’d really like to see is especially happy and fulfilling. Conversely, not seeing a bird that we’d really like to see makes us feel less happy and less fulfilled. Commonly, the way birders learn about birds they wanted to see (but didn’t) is while standing around with a likeable birding friend who interrupts the friendly conversation with an observation like:
“What? You mean you didn’t see the Black-bellied Whistling Ducks? They were here for a week! Didn’t anybody tell you?”
Even in a place as likeable as Cape May, speaking with someone as likeable as a fellow birder, this is not a likeable situation. It can give you border-line unlikeable thoughts.
Right off, the bird you’d really like to see suddenly becomes the bird you’d really, really, really, REALLY like to see more than anything else in the whole world.
Then, there is the less-than-likeable urge to rip the larynx out of the likeable person you are talking to and feed it to the nearest gull before going home and mixing one or three stiff drinks preparatory to going online and electronically pissing on the legs of all your selfish ex-birding friends who failed to alert you to the presence of the bird that means more to you than life and death.
You know. That stupid, feathered miscreant that showed up in Cape May last week and didn’t have the freaking decency to let you see it. Stop. Pour another drink. Damned duck! If there isn’t a season on Black-bellied Whistling Ducks there should be. They ought to put a bounty on the ugly, harlot-faced, scum-sucking little…
It can make you want to sell your optics and move to a place where birds are only slightly less common than empty space and idiot writers don’t put drivel in local rag sheets about why they like Cape May.
Which is a very lovely, likeable place despite the treacherous birds, treacherous friends, and the schizophrenic, bipolar (but otherwise likeable) writers who infest this town.
Seen any good birds lately?
Don’t say yes.
I don’t know if the aforementioned Black-bellied Whistling Ducks will still be around when you read this, but if they are, the Cape May Bird Observatory offers bird walks (every day but Sunday and Tuesday throughout July) where you might just get lucky enough, unlike the writer, to have someone pick them out for you.
Just stop over to the Cape May Bird Observatory, THE place for anything to do with nature, and pick up a copy of The Kestrel Express for our full schedule of walks and boat trips. The CMBO (609-884-2736) is located at 701 East Lake Drive overlooking lovely Lake Lily in Cape May Point and is open 9:30am to 4:30pm daily. Our staff and volunteers are always glad to help with anything you need – even things you didn’t know you needed yet. Check out the latest in books (including the newest Bayshore Summer by Pete Dunne – which if you bring with you on the Monday morning walk, you can get him to personalize), bird feeders, and some great new merchandise, including our exclusive CMBO logo jewelry, clothing, totes, and more. Take a look at the sightings log or our website to check what’s being seen, scan the bookshelves, pick up a bargain from the used and vintage books section, look at some of the wonderful Charley Harper merchandise, or just browse. If you aren’t fortunate enough to be in the area, visit us online www.BirdCapeMay.org – where birding Cape May is only a click away.
Seymore Thanu is none other than New Jersey’s own Pete Dunne, Director of the Cape May Bird Observatory and Vice President of Natural History for the New Jersey Audubon Society. Author of several books on and about nature (available at the Cape May Bird Observatory), he has written for virtually every birding publication and for The New York Times.