Three Landbird Hotspots

Cape May, New Jersey
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Map of Cape May
Cape May, New Jersey.

Like Presque Isle, the Cape May peninsula is often so awash in songbirds that a naturalist will be happy almost anywhere, but three locations stand out.

Higbee Beach WMA, at the western edge of the cape near the Intracoastal Waterway, has trails through a mixture of dunes, bayberry thickets, forests, brushy fields, ponds and freshwater marshes—in other words, just the right mix for the greatest variety of birds. An especially rich trail goes south from the parking area past a hawk-watch platform toward Davey's Lake. On a fine May morning there will be indigo buntings, white-eyed vireos, Carolina wrens, cardinals, yellow-breasted chats, yellow warblers, ruby-throated hummingbirds and dozens of other species, feeding voraciously after a night of migrating.

Directions to Higbee Beach (and Cape May Point State Park, below) are as follows:

Take the Garden State Parkway South to its merger with Route 109 South. At Cape May, Route 109 becomes Lafayette Street; stay in the right lane, go straight through the light next to the Acme, then turn right at the T-intersection. Go through another light for a total of 0.6 mile to the intersection of Sunset Boulevard (Route 606) and Broadway (Route 626). Continue on Sunset (Route 606), going 1.1 miles to Sea Grove Avenue, a left turn. After 0.5 mile make another left onto Lighthouse Avenue (Route 629) and go 0.4 mile to reach Cape May Point State Park.

For Higbee Beach, return to Lighthouse Avenue, going straight 0.7 mile to its intersection with Sunset, and make a left. Drive west on Sunset 0.4 mile to Sunset Beach, where an old shipwreck dominates the bay. To reach the bay at the northern end of the area, retrace your steps east along Sunset 1 mile to Stevens Street, a left. Stevens merges with Route 607; go north on 607 about 1.4 miles to county Route 641 (a marked dead end), make a left turn and drive 1.1 miles to the dirt parking area for Higbee Beach WMA.

Along Bayshore Road (Route 607), .6 mile north of Sunset Boulevard and 1.1 miles south of Route 641 (New England Road), an old railroad bed crosses the road. West along the rail path is the "Beanery," an almost legendary spot for songbird watching, and traditionally good for rarities and extralimital species. Note, however, this is on private property leased by the New Jersey Audubon Society and is accessible only to members of the Society and/or Cape May Bird Observatory. Another excellent area, with a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk, is next to the hawk-watch platform at Cape May Point State Park, on Lighthouse Avenue south of Sunset Boulevard.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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