The weekly report from the world’s birdwatching capital… by Seymore Thanu
Hate sitting here at this #$%^& computer while every other Tom, Dick and birder is out there in a morning that is just saturated with birds.
A cold front cleared last night. Winds were light and northwest. Skies were cleared. An avalanche of warblers, thrushes and other feathered what-nots took this opportunity to migrate south, jam up along the Cape May peninsula, and fall out south of the Cape May Canal.
There they vied for perch space. Made trees and bushes animate. Stopped traffic. Scrambled weather radar. Turned day into night. Signaled the apocalypse. It was a migratory fallout of near-biblical proportions.
And I am sitting here at this computer. Because I have promises to keep. Duties to perform. The burden of leadership. The weight of the world upon me. Not to mention a stupid deadline for a stupid column for which I garner not even a dollop of pleasure or gratification – except for Exit Zero, of course – much less a single, stinking fan letter, which I would gladly read and answer!
I know I’m ranting.
But once there was a time when I was happy, free, unfettered of this ambition, this killing task. Not a slave to fashion, or dignity, or image.
I went birding whenever I wanted. Grabbed my binoculars and went out the door. Free as a freaking bird.
I reveled in fallouts. Wrapped my mind around avian deluges so monumental that any effort at disclosure even approximating reality would brand me a liar. Fallouts with warblers so thick you could not bring a binocular to bear on a single bird. Fallouts so thick that driving down Sunset Boulevard, you didn’t just hit birds crossing the road, they were pinging off the sides of your car.
Fallouts so bird-riddled that people in the field had to be careful where they stepped, open windows meant birds in the house, and feral cats didn’t need to stalk – they just opened their mouths and ovenbirds queued up.
Alas, and curse my rotten, mismatched luck.
Here I sit in a stupid office. Getting reports from the field, noting text messages about who’s seeing what and what I’m missing.
Wood Stork over Cape May Point… Wood Stork now reported over Cape Henlopen…
Getting salt-in-the-wound queries from colleagues and ex-friends.
“Hey. What are you doing here? Don’t you know that there’s a whopping fallout in Cape May?”
Oh drat, drat, drat, drat, drat, drat, drat.
Curses, curses, curses, curse, curses, curses.
What God did I offend? How do I get back in the good graces of the universe? Why did I get dressed in the dark?
I mean if I’d only turned the light on, I would have seen that the socks were mismatched. One tan, one blue. I mean, how could a person with even a shred of dignity be seen in public like this.
Makes you want to hide in your office and write at the computer (and wish it was warm enough to go sockless).
Don’t let anything get in your way of experiencing a fallout of birds (and Monarch butterflies) like we’ve been experiencing in Cape May. Work will always be there, but birds move and often quickly! If you want to know what’s happening in the natural world, contact the Cape May Bird Observatory (CMBO) – THE place for anything to do with nature.
Located at 701 East Lake Drive overlooking lovely Lake Lily in Cape May Point, the center is open 9:30am-4:30pm daily. Ask any of our staff – they are always glad to help with anything you need. Check out the newest books (including Pete Dunne’s Bayshore Summer and Kevin Karlson’s beautiful Birds of Cape May), bird feeders, and some great new and fun merchandise – including our exclusive CMBO logo jewelry, clothing, totes, and more. Take a look at the sightings log to check what’s being seen, pick up a bargain from the vintage books section, look at some of the wonderful Charley Harper merchandise, or just browse.
And 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 Chief Communications Officer for New Jersey Audubon. Author of several books about nature (available at the CMBO) he has written for virtually every birding publication and for The New York Times.