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Greg Miller Big Year Series: CAPE MAY to HAWK MOUNTAIN

American-Bittern-w-fish-BINNS-IMG_6456-copyOn this tour we’ll experience some of the best fall birding in the United States. We will bird New Jersey north to south and parts of Delaware and Pennsylvania. We’ll be at famous hawk watches in all three states and a fabulous sea watch in New Jersey. We’ll bird coastal and inland marshes, mudflats, grasslands, freshwater lakes, and both pine forests and deciduous woodland areas. Many birds winter here and there will still be many late migrants coming through. Over 300 species of birds have been recorded during this week here in eBird.

This will be near peak season for both Golden Eagle and Northern Goshawk. Many species of waterfowl will just be arriving. And many species of shorebirds will linger into this week. Land birds will be present in an amazing variety. This is a really fun time to visit the mid-Atlantic region.

Some of the birds we may see include Snow Goose, Brant, Mute Swan, Tundra Swan, Eurasian Wigeon, American Black Duck, Surf, Black, and White-winged Scoters, Red-throated Loon, Great Cormorant, Northern Gannet, American Bittern, Golden Eagle, Northern Goshawk, Clapper Rail, American Oystercatcher, Hudsonian Godwit, Red Knot, Stilt Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Parasitic Jaeger, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black Skimmer, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Brown Creeper, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, Blackpoll Warbler, Nelson’s Sparrow, Saltmarsh Sparrow, Seaside Sparrow, Rusty Blackbird, and Purple Finch.


  • Tour Cost
  • 2019 Cost :: 7-days/6-nights

    $1850.00 per person, based upon double occupancy from Philadelphia, PA (PHL).


    Although we will eat our meals as a group, meal costs are not included in this trip for light to average eaters, this will save you money rather than adding in an "average" food cost per person.


    Single Supplement

    Cost is for shared rooms. If a single room is preferred, or we are unable to get a roommate for you, a single supplement fee of $350.00 will be assessed.


    What is Included / Not Included in the Cost

    Included in the cost are all accommodations, transportation, entrance fees and permits, from Philadelphia, PA.

    Participants will be responsible for purchasing their own meals and making their flight arrangements.



    $500.00, check, paypal or credit card, along with your completed Wildside Nature Tours Registration Form.


    Final Payment

    The balance due or full payment, by check, is due 120 days prior to the departure date.

  • Itinerary
  • Brief Itinerary

    Day 1: Arrivals at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, PA (PHL)

    Day 2: Peace Valley Park, PA; Sandy Hook, NJ; Barnegat Light, NJ

    Day 3: Tuckerton, NJ; Edwin B Forsythe NWR, NJ; Avalon Seawatch; Stone Harbor Point; Nummy Island

    Day 4: Higbee Beach, NJ; Cape May Hawkwatch, NJ; Cape May Beanery, NJ; Cape May Meadows, NJ

    Day 5: Cape May Lewes Ferry; Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch, DE; Bombay Hook NWR, DE

    Day 6: Hawk Mountain, PA; Philadelphia Area hotspots

    Day 7: Departures from PHL International Airport in Philadelphia, PA (PHL)


    Full Itinerary


    Day 1 ~ Arrival at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, PA (PHL)

    Arrival at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, PA (PHL)Orientation at dinner. Night in Philadelphia, PA. If all our flights arrive early we will have some time to bird local Philadelphia hotspots.


    Day 2 ~ Peace Valley Park, PA; Sandy Hook, NJ; Barnegat Light, NJ

    Our first stop is a 1500-acre park in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Our top targets, Lesser Black-backed Gull and White-throated Sparrow should be fairly easy to get here at this very good birding spot. Other potential species here include American Black Duck, Green-winged Teal, and Cackling Goose.


    Our next stop is Sandy Hook, NJ which is a mere 8 miles over water from Staten Island, NY. Sandy Hook is on New Jersey’s north shore and is one of the top birding hotspots in New Jersey. According to eBird, 350 species have been seen at this location with more than 250 species just for the month of October. It is a wonderful place to pick up fall migrants and maybe even a rare vagrant. We may have numbers of Brown Creeper, Hermit Thrush, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and Swamp Sparrow. Purple Finch, Winter Wren, and Great Cormorant will be searched for here, too. Other birds may include all 3 scoter species, Northern Gannet, lingering shorebirds, Nelson’s Sparrow, an early Snow Bunting or Lapland Longspur, and rarities like Western Kingbird, Western Tanager, and Sage Thrasher.


    The jetty at Barnegat Light, NJ can be an impressive place to bird in the winter months. We’ll be a tad early for the goodies. But the timing is so close as to merit a stop to check for Harlequin Duck, Long-tailed Duck, Black Scoter, and Purple Sandpiper. Night near Atlantic City, NJ.


    Day 3 ~ Tuckerton, NJ; Edwin B Forsythe NWR, NJ; Avalon Seawatch; Stone Harbor Point; Nummy Island

    We’ll start out the day birding the coastal marshes near Tuckerton, NJ. Birds here include American Oystercatcher, Dunlin, and a chance to get lucky with a few of the more secretive birds on our target list like Seaside Sparrow, Nelson’s Sparrow, and Saltmarsh Sparrow.


    Our next destination is one of our more important stops—Edwin B Forsythe NWR. It’s a premiere birding hotspot in New Jersey. We’ll hope to find Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Brant, and lingering shorebirds including both species of dowitchers. Rarities do show up here. It’s a locale that is fun to bird.


    In the afternoon we’ll head to the Avalon Seawatch. Some of our targets will probably be seen only here and nowhere else. Birds here may include Northern Gannet, any of the 3 scoter species, both scaup, Red-throated Loon, and Great Cormorant.


    Stone Harbor Point is another good shorebird location. We may find Brant, American Oystercatcher, Red Knot, Ruddy Turnstone, and even Piping Plover is a possibility.


    If daylight still remains we’ll stop at nearby Nummy Island on our way to Cape May, NJ. As of July, 2015 a total of 28 species of shorebirds have been reported here…in October alone. Also possible are Clapper Rail, American Bittern, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, and both species of night-herons. Night near Cape May, NJ.


    Day 4 ~ Higbee Beach, NJ; Cape May Hawkwatch, NJ; Cape May Beanery, NJ; Cape May Meadows, NJ

    Hopefully we’ll have good winds out of the Northwest overnight. We’ll start out at Higbee Beach along the dike and watch for late migrants. As the temperatures start to rise we’ll head over to the famous Cape May Hawkwatch. From the platform we’ll bird the nearby lake and bushes, but the real focus will be in the air. Watch hawks “appear” out of the blue to the north of us and then fly over us makes for a very exciting experience. Next we’ll drive over to the Beanery and bird a little different habitat. We’ll finish the day going over to the Meadows in mid to late afternoon. Cape May can produce some of the finest birding in the fall. It should be on every birder’s bucket list.


    Birds today on Cape Island may include Red-headed Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Winter Wren, Rusty Blackbird, Purple Finch, Blackpoll Warbler, Dickcissel, Brown Creeper, Eurasian Wigeon, Hermit Thrush, White-throated Sparrow, Broad-winged Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Mute Swan, Black Skimmer, Yellow-rumped Warbler, American Bittern, Marsh Wren, White-rumped Sandpiper, and long shots like Golden Eagle and Northern Goshawk. Night near Cape May, NJ again.


    Day 5 ~ Cape May Lewes Ferry; Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch, DE; Bombay Hook NWR, DE

    We’ll take a morning trip on the Cape May Lewes Ferry from Cape May, NJ to Lewes, DE. Some possibilities on the ferry include scoters, gulls, Northern Gannet, and Parasitic Jaeger.


    The area near the point where the Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch is located is a great place to bird. Here we may find Red-throated Loon, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Northern Gannet, Parasitic Jaeger, Lesser Black-backed Gull, and possibly Brown-headed Nuthatch.


    Our last stop of the day is Bombay Hook NWR north of Dover, DE. Bombay Hook is legendary for its shorebirds. And hopefully we’ll be lucky enough to see a few early returning Tundra Swans. These birds are found in large concentrations around the Chesapeake Bay each winter. Seeing a flock of 800-1000 birds feeding in a field corn stubble is always exciting. In addition to the swans we’ll hope to find shorebirds including Stilt Sandpiper, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Marbled Godwit, and maybe a Hudsonian Godwit, Pectoral Sandpiper, or a vagrant like a Ruff or who knows what. Night near Wilmington, DE.


    Day 6 ~ Hawk Mountain, PA; Philadelphia Area hotspots

    Today we’ll head north to bird at the famous Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania. This will be our best chance to see the rare Golden Eagle or Northern Goshawk. It will be near peak timing for both of these species. We may even get to double digits of species of raptors at this time of year.


    Depending on our list and whatever we still need we will choose to bird some Philadelphia area hotspots. Something like Green Lane Park for Common Merganser on the return trip from Hawk Mountain or John Heinz NWR which is a great hotspot in general. There are many possibilities in the Philadelphia area. Night in Philadelphia, PA.


    Day 7 ~ Departures from Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, PA (PHL)

    Tour ends. Departures from Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, PA (PHL).


  • Accommodations
  • Standard Hotels near our birding locations.