Skywatch Friday, Cape May, NJ Style

It's Skywatch Friday again! I think I may actually be getting it in on time this week. I'm very confused because it's called Skywatch Friday, but apparently, it begins on Thursday where I live.

This is a view of one of my favorite places that I've been blogging about this week. It's called The Meadows and it's an area run by The Nature Conservancy. I think when people think of New Jersey, they may often think of maybe the opening to The Sopranos with Tony driving over the bridge and you see a lot of factories and industry. Believe it or not, you can find places where you are in a remote area.

While at the Cape May Autumn Weekend, I spent a lot of time at The Meadows, some for workshops, some just on my own. I had a magical Sunday morning there when I was surrounded by tree swallows. All weekend I could see huge flocks of them feeding on bayberries. Tree Swallows have already moved out of Minnesota, so seeing huge flocks in Cape May was a treat. They can afford to be later migrants because unlike most swallows that eat only insects, these will also eat berries, helping them to survive the late migration should they find a lack of insects.

I saw a huge flock off in the distance. This photo really doesn't do it justice. I may look like light blue paper sprinkled with fine ground pepper, but these are all tree swallows. I watched them wheeling and spinning in the air, just enjoying the spectacle. I wondered if I could walk towards the flock, but before I could take the first step, I noticed the flock formed a large cylinder and was heading my way.

Within seconds, I had swallows zooming overhead and whizzing on either side of me. I tried to take photos, but realized quickly that it was in vain, they were moving too quickly. There were thousands of them, a groups so loud, they sheer number of dainty wings flapping was an audible rushing sound. The tree swallows dipped down towards the water and took sips, then zipped over the grasses searching for insects. It was an intense, magical experience and my reverie was broken only when a nearby mute swan gave off it's farty sounding call (yes, that beautiful exotic species that rips up nesting habitat of our native ducks, also sounds like flatulence when it calls).

When the swallows were in the distance, I tried to take a video through my spotting scope. It's not the best video ever, but you get an idea of the the size of the flock. I would say that the birds you see through my scope is about one fourth of the entire flock. There were thousands of tree swallows:

Quite a spectacle to have all those swallows be part of the sky.