There comes a moment. A time of knowing. Spring yearnings that gave way to summer sensations now yield to autumn harvest and the Southern Siren sounds.
It’s time to go.
This is not just true for the birds of eastern Ontario that have been calling from the fields and forests since May. It is also true for many people. I don’t take holidays between May and August, but come Labour Day, I too am as ready as a Robin to depart for warmer climes and head south.
About six years ago I discovered Cape May, New Jersey, often hailed as “the last great place” for birds and birders in North America. And once you go, you do, in fact, actually know, that the claim is substantiated on a daily basis. Not just because the birding is amazing, so too is the place. This part of New Jersey is a natural peninsula that funnels both birds and people to the southern tip where you’ll find the beautifully restored Victorian town of Cape May, and the Cape May Bird Observatory. The annual Hawk Watch that takes place each fall means you’ll also find Cooper’s, Sharp Shinned, Merlin, Kestral, Rough Legged, Red Tailed, Broad Winged, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier…just about every hawk common to eastern North America…and not just one or two, but hundreds, if not more, as flock after flock after flock migrates down the seaboard.
You’ll also be blessed with terns of all shapes and sizes, including Common, Caspian, Royal, Least, Black, and Roseate. Add the Black Skimmers, American Oyster Catchers, and every possible sandpiper you can think of, then throw in the distinct possibility getting “stuck” in a flurry of warblers and you begin to understand the magic of migration!
That should be enough to entice you even further south. On to Florida and the stunning beaches, dunes, hammocks, wetlands and everglades filled with herons, egrets, shorebirds, warblers and yes, alligators! It’s the best kind of vacation I can imagine. The birding is incredible, as is the weather, the food, the people and the places along the Florida Birding Trail.
This is a journey that taken once, is now oft’ repeated. It feeds my soul, nurtures my spirit, and provides me with internal warmth to survive the approaching Canadian winter.