Legendary Cape May brims with birds, butterflies, and other things with wings. Rich in history too, Witmer Stone and the luminaries at the Academy of Natural Sciences who helped put Cape May on the map decades ago would marvel now to see it today.
Philadelphia, designated in 2015 as the United States’ first World Heritage City, is not only the birthplace of the nation, but also the cradle of American ornithology. Alexander “Sandy” Wilson, began studying birds here at Bartram’s Garden in the early 1800s, which gave rise to the study of birds in the early days of our more perfect union here. Audubon, John Cassin, and so many others through and up to modern day ornithological legends like James Bond studied and made their homes here. We’ll tour the magnificent museum at the Academy of Natural Sciences one afternoon, after visiting the number one eBird hotspot in Pennsylvania at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. Before that however, we’ll head north about 90 minutes to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. A legendary birding location and raptor conservation site, thanks to Rosalie Edge, Hawk Mountain is not only a great place to witness visible hawk migration, but is also an incredible research facility with a remarkable array of projects ongoing. We’ll hope for good conditions for hawks and viewing from the scenic vistas there, and enjoy a full day here before returning to Philadelphia for the night.
Cape May, famous as one of the most spectacular bird migration sites on the planet, boasts a wonderful suite of sites for nature enthusiasts. With great facilities and fine food too, the birding heats up just as the beach season winds down. And, everything is close. Some of the East Coast’s best-known birding hotspots are all huddled up with only fairly short drives between them. Weather is always a factor and dictates much of what is seen, but because of the diversity of sites, there is always something to see. Iconic areas such as Higbee Beach, “the meadows”, Cape May Point State Park and the fabled hawkwatch, the Concrete Ship at Sunset Beach, all offer an abundance of birds. Another set of are just up the road, including Stone Harbor, and fabulous Forsyth National Wildlife Refuge (Brigantine). During the time of our visit, later in autumn, the cold fronts start to stack up in quick succession such that the turnover of migrant and vagrant birds is steady or even staggering. We’ll take in all that Cape May as to offer, before returning to our port of entry, the City of Brotherly Love.
Together on this short, sweet sojourn, we’ll take in a rich array of birds, with hawks and songbirds in good numbers, just as seabird numbers start to surge, while shorebirds and waders continue to linger. Join Rockjumper for a great birding adventure to our most storied migration hotspot.
Day 1: Arrival into Philadelphia, and welcome dinner
Day 2: Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, night in Philly
Day 3: AM birding at Heinz NWR, visit Academy of Nat. Sciences, & on to Cape May
Day 4: Historic Cape May: Higbee Beach, Hawkwatch & the State Park, the Meadows, and more
Day 5: Historic Cape May: Higbee Beach, Hawkwatch & the State Park, the Meadows, and more
Day 6: Historic Cape May: Higbee Beach, Hawkwatch & the State Park, the Meadows, and more
Day 7: Historic Cape May: Higbee Beach, Hawkwatch & the State Park, the Meadows, and more
Day 8: AM birding, & PM transport back to Philly for points home
This tour involves very little arduous walking. We will however spend significant time on foot, as we search for birds.
Transport is by van or minivan. There is not a lot of driving on this trip aside from the drive down and back, and perhaps another 1 or so each way if we opt to visit Forsyth Refuge, but if you are prone to motion sickness, take precautions.