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Tree Swallows. Photo by Gina Nichol.CAPE MAY, NJ
Birding Bonanza!

October 25 - 29, 2018

The Fall Migration Capital of North America
with Frank Gallo & Patrick Dugan!

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Cape May, New Jersey, is world renowned as one of North America’s premier fall migration hotspots. The Cape May Peninsula is flanked by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and Delaware Bay to the west, which act to funnel incredible numbers and varieties of southbound migrants towards the Cape May Point.


White-crowned SparrowCape May’s unique geography, when combined with the right weather conditions, has earned it honors as a birding Mecca and a must-visit destination. Here’s your chance to experience birding in the migration capital of North America! Visit all the key sites in the Cape May area including the famous Cape May Hawk Watch, South Cape May Meadows, “The Beanery”, Avalon Sea Watch, and of course, the incredible impoundments of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, known locally as Brigantine.


This tour is set at the best possible time to experience sparrow and late songbird migration in the morning and loon, puddle and sea ducks, and raptor migration all day long. Late October offers accipiters, falcons, and buteos in Cape May, as well as Bald Eagles, Northern Harriers, Ospreys and it prime time for a chance to see less common species such as Golden Eagle and Goshawk. It is the peak of Bald Eagle and buteo migration, with the possibility of hundreds of Red-tailed Hawks, falcons, and accipiters flying over the Hawkwatch at Cape May State Park in one day. Loons, ducks, gannets, and other water birds are also on the move and we should see a good assortment of gulls, terns and seabirds, including Parasitic Jaegers. If you have never visited Cape May NJ or even if you have visited in the past, this is a great time to go.


Since weather plays a major role in the migratory movements of birds, we will base ourselves in Cape May and decide which locations to visit on a daily basis. We’ll also have the expert help of Frank Gallo, author of Birding in Connecticut, and a long-time bander and hawk watcher at Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven, CT (Second only to Cape May as a Coastal Hawk Watch site). Frank will offer a few spontaneous mini-workshops during the tour, including how to identify and separate similar raptors. All in all, we’ll spend 3+ days birding the Cape May and “Brigantine” areas.


Join us to experience birding in Cape May, the migration capital of North America!!



Thursday, October 25 - Arrival and start of tour
This will be the arrival day in Cape May. There are three options for arrival – drive with Frank from Milford CT, fly to Philadelphia and we’ll pick you up in the van and drive to Cape May, or drive directly to Cape May and we’ll meet you there in the afternoon. Participants flying into Philadelphia will be picked up early afternoon in the baggage claim area of Terminal B/C. The journey to Cape May is under 2 hours with good traffic. If you are planning to drive to Cape May, we’ll arrange a meeting place in Cape May. Depending on arrival times, we hope to have some time our first day for an introduction to some of the areas we will be visiting throughout the week.


October 26, 27, 28 – Cape May Area birding
Northern HarrierWe will follow the same general daily schedule for the tour. Each day’s birding location will be determined the night before (or the morning of!) based on weather patterns and wind direction. Flexibility will be the key but generally we will plan to depart our hotel at 6:30 AM and pick up a quick breakfast at a nearby convenience store that offers fresh food and coffee. We will bird at a nearby location until late morning or go to the Hawkwatch if songbirds are slow. Lunch will be take-out sandwiches, soup, salads, etc. and can be consumed at Cape May State Park at clean picnic tables under a pavilion near the Hawkwatch. We will bird in the afternoon until 4 pm or so, and then return to the hotel to freshen up before dinner. Dinner will be at a variety of restaurants in the Cape May area. If a good cold front occurs, we may want to stay in the field longer to take advantage of the afternoon bird movements.

MerlinEach day’s birding location will depend on weather patterns and wind direction. If there is a cold front or winds from the north, west, or northwest, we will head to Higbee Beach, The Beanery, Cape May State Park or Hidden Valley to look for songbird migrants. If we have cold front or winds from a westerly or northerly direction, we’ll hope to experience the fabled morning flight at Higbee Beach where we can watch migrants streaming over the tree line as they frantically fly away from the ocean after their overnight flight. Most, if not all days we will visit the Hawkwatch at Cape May State Park to check out the raptor flights and during the week you’ll learn to identify raptors both close and far away.

Locations to visit depending on the birds and weather may include:

  • Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge/ South Cape May Meadows
    Situated at the southwest tip of the Cape May Peninsula, the Meadows is often where migrants are trapped waiting to cross the sea waters.
  • Cape May Point State Park
    Encompassing the 153-acre Cape May Point Natural Area, the Park offers coastal thickets, beach, dunes, freshwater wetlands and ponds, and forested trails.  The world famous elevated hawk-watch platform that provides an excellent place to watch migrating raptors. The area is good for songbird migrants, swallows, gulls, terns, water birds, shorebirds, and plenty of raptors.
  • Two Mile Beach Unit of the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge
    Located near Wildwood Crest on the Atlantic Ocean, this refuge has barrier island habitat, maritime forest, tidal ponds, and undisturbed beach habitat used by thousands of migrating shorebirds.
  • Rea Farm, aka “The Beanery”
    Formally a lima bean farm, this area has fields and hedgerows surrounded by wet woods. Centrally located and sheltered by surrounding tall trees, The Beanery is often the warmest spot around and migrants can linger here. It is excellent for songbirds, late warblers, raptors, and sparrows. On good days, masses of Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers and a wide variety of sparrows may be seen, with a chance for less common species such as Orange-crowned Warbler and Lincoln’s Sparrow.
  • Hidden Valley
    A section of Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area, Hidden Valley offers forested edge and the weedy fields that can be loaded with sparrows, bluebirds, late warblers, and hunting hawks.
  • Stone Harbor
    The vast mud flats and salt marshes here are one of the best places to view shorebird migration as they provide a productive feeding ground for all kinds of shorebirds. The area is also good for terns, herons, gulls, falcons, and swallows.
  • Avalon Sea Watch
    The Sea Watch is famous as a sight to experience migrating puddle and sea ducks, loons, grebes and gannets as they stream past heading south. Large flocks of all three scoter species, Long-tailed Ducks, scaup, eider, Wood Duck, teal, N. Pintail, Common and Red-throated Loons, the occasional Brown Pelican and waves of both cormorant species and Northern Gannets are all seen at this time of year. Falcons, Parasitic Jaegers, Royal, Caspian, and Forster’s Terns are other commonly occurring species.
  • Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge
    With more than 47,000 acres of coastal habitats protected for wildlife, Forsythe Refuge (formerly Brigantine) is great for shorebirds, terns, herons, egrets, swallows, songbirds, some raptors, and sparrows.
  • Other locations depending on weather, reports, migration and birds! 

Bald eagleVisiting these locations from day to day can yield a wide variety of birds with different species on different days depending upon the wind direction and movement of cold fronts. A good day in the Cape May area after a cold front can often yield up to 130 species. The cumulative number of birds will rely on the weather and the extent of migration. Cape May is a superb migratory location, but if there are no active weather fronts, songbird and raptor movements can be somewhat slow. When this occurs, we will visit shoreline and water bird locations to enjoy a wide variety of birds that are not dependent on weather fronts.

Sunday, October 29
After a final morning birding in Cape May, we’ll say our goodbyes, Those flying out will head north to the Philadelphia Airport where we will arrive at around 2:00 p.m. for flights after 4:00 p.m.

Leaders: Frank Gallo and Patrick Dugan (8 or more)

*Note: Our itinerary may change based on weather and bird activity. Locations listed are possible locations and we may not be able to visit all listed locations. As with any birding trip, the birds will be the deciding factor on which locations we visit and how long we stay there.

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The Fall Migration Capital of North America

October 25 - 29, 2018
Registration Form>

TOUR PRICE: $995.00 per person based on double occupancy from Cape May, New Jersey (or Philadelphia, see below). Tour price is based on double occupancy and a minimum of 6 clients.  Van Transportation is available from Milford, CT for an additional fee.  Fly to Philadelphia and we’ll pick you up in the van and drive to Cape May. Participants flying into Philadelphia will be picked up early afternoon in the baggage claim area of Terminal B/C.

Single supplement: $325.00 per person. Subject to availability.

Included in cost: Accommodation in twin rooms, group airport transfer to and from Philadelphia (Airport code: PHL) for those needing it, ground transport throughout, dinners, park entrance fees, water and snacks and services of leaders.

Not included: Flight or transportation to Cape May (except from CT by van for an additional fee), breakfast and lunch, drinks, laundry, tips, and items of a personal nature.  Note: The tour price is based on a minimum of 6 passengers.  If there are less than 6, a small group supplement may be charged.

TO RESERVE YOUR SPACE:  Contact to reserve your space. Then follow up immediately with a completed REGISTRATION FORM> and full payment to Sunrise Birding LLC to secure your space.  Full payment is due at registration.   Check or bank transfer are preferred but credit card payments are possible (surcharges of up to 5% are added depending on amount to cover credit card company fees).  Please inquire with about credit card payments via PayPal.


Cancellations and Refunds: All cancellations must be made in writing. In the event that you must cancel your booking at any stage, all payments you have made to Sunrise Birding, LLC will be retained by us, except at our discretion. You may have the opportunity to transfer your booking to another tour or another person, provided you are unavoidably prevented from coming on the tour. In this case, you will bear any extra costs that such changes may incur. There are no refunds once the trip is confirmed to go ahead and no refunds will be made for unused meals, accommodations, or other trip features. Sunrise Birding, LLC cannot accept liability for airline cancellations or delays or penalties incurred by the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for this tour.


Insurance: Sunrise Birding, LLC recommends that you purchase a travel protection plan to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. Travel protection plans can include coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Delay and more.

For more information on the available plans or to enroll, click on the link below or contact Travelex Insurance Services at 800-228-9792 and reference location number 07-0025.

The product descriptions provided here are only brief summaries. The full coverage terms and details, including limitations and exclusions, are contained in the insurance policy. Travelex CA Agency License #0D10209. All products listed are underwritten by, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company. 11.17 E7N

Questions? Contact Gina Nichol at 
Phone: 203.453.6724

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