Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Cape May Point

Sunday September 22,2013
Matt’s Driveway
Cape May Courthouse, New Jersey



It’s hard to go very far along the east coast without running into a lighthouse.



NJ lights



Seems that every place we go there is a lighthouse to visit and Cape May is no exception.  Its lighthouse is way down on the very tip of New Jersey just before you fall into either the Atlantic or the Delaware Bay and have to swim for it.  It’s the Cape May Point  Light House and is located in Cape May Point State Park.   In their visitor information center I look at a map of the lighthouses just in New Jersey.  it’s pretty astounding.  The entire east coastline looks just like this.










We are seeing more signs that fall is on its way.


As we approach the lighthouse, on the side of  the visitor information center,  we see this bittersweet bush all decorated for fall.  It’s hard for me to believe summer is over.  It seems to have flown by.  The temperatures are gorgeous here.  In the 50’s at night and the 70’s during the day.  Just perfect.  And along the water there seems always to be a good breeze.


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The Cape May Point lighthouse has guarded the tip of New Jersey at the mouth of the Delaware Bay for 180 years. 


The first lighthouse was built on this site in 1823.  This one, constructed in 1859 is the third on this site.  It stands 157.5 feet high and is still active and operated by the Coast Guard.   There are 199 steps up to the top and a $7 fee for the climbing.  We declined the $14 toll not the steps.   But we did go inside to see the renovations done by the Mid Atlantic Center for the Arts in Cape May which now leases the lighthouse from the State of New Jersey which owns it.




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In addition to the map of New Jersey Lighthouses  we also see this map in the visitor center.  It is of the shore line and the changes over time.  They sure have lost a lot of beach here.  After seeing the difference between the 1842 shore line and 1995, I have to wonder where the 2013 line is.


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What in the world is that?



As we walk toward the shore we see a structure right out on the beach.  What  is that? 

Turns out it is another WW II bunker.  We’d first heard about them when we stayed in Fishermen’s Memorial in Rhode Island.  Here,   one was built in 1941 and a sister on the Delaware side to defend the mouth of the Delaware Bay.  Grass is still growing on the roof but it is clearly no longer under ground.  In fact, it is in the water other than at low tide.  We really lucked out to see it.

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The other thing we’ve come to see is one of the top birding spots in the country.


We walk a little way down the beach and turn up to see the dikes and ponds which attract one of the largest concentrations of birders in the country in the spring and fall.





They are here in numbers today.

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But before we go up to see what they are seeing, we take a walk around to see what we can see.




At this time of year, the birders are mostly here to see raptors.  Here are the folks we spy in the ponds as we walk by.


Great Blue Heron

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Snowy EgretCape May Lighthouse  & TNC walk 075




There is another set of seven swans a swimming.  No wonder that’s the number in the song lyrics.  This is twice in a than a month we’ve seen a flock of 7 swans.



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And what I think, and hope someone will confirm, are Northern Shovelers.


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We walk up to the platform and see the Cape May Fall Hawk Watch is well under way.


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We are seriously out gunned in terms of equipment.  These folks are determined.





We make one more stop before heading home.


After seeing an eagle chase an osprey for a fish and trying to see the merlin that everyone seemed to see but us, we leave the birders and head back toward the town stopping on our way at a Nature Conservancy property. 

I have been a member of the Nature Conservancy for a long time and was on their speakers bureau for a number of years in Charlottesville so I am always interested in seeing lands they have helped to protect.




This one is a lovely marsh with a short trail around it.




One of the highlights here is the swan with three signets.




She’s seems to be doing some ballet or stretching exercises while they feed.

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I’m not sure why we’ve been seeing so many swans lately.  But they certainly are beautiful.


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The wetlands have their fall dresses on.  The red tinges are particularly striking.




This preserve protects a section of the beach as well as the marsh at its back.


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This is the perfect time of year to visit.  No mosquitoes.







Winnona FINALLY gets a bath!


Time for lunch back at Winnona and this afternoon David finishes washing Winnona.  He did the roof yesterday.  Poor filthy Winnona.  I know she is heaving a big sigh of relief.  Tomorrow afternoon is her big inside cleaning day so she’s is going to be looking very fine inside and out.



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  1. Thanks for going undercover and finding the location of our winter birds. They are professional snow birds and perhaps that is where we should spend our summer. Great pictures, wonder if they will remember you in Florida this winter.

  2. I guess there really is something to that "Seven swans a swimming." Love that last shot of the swan. So graceful.

  3. me, too... that last picture of the swan is stunning .. so fluffy ~ I want to hug them but they do NOT like it... ha

  4. Lovely, lovely pictures of the swans!!! and more beach!!!

  5. Glad you're enjoying New Jersey, my home state. Yep, I'm one of those D*** Yankees... :c)

    Cape May has so much to see and enjoy...and the Coast Guard Boot Camp, where the current batch of new recruits are not enjoying Cape May so much!

  6. Given what we know about the sands of the Atlantic shore, I would think insurance for water front properties would be non-existent or prohibitive. Who is supposed to absorb the incredible losses with each new massive storm? The government? That is you and me & our tax dollars which don't seem to be enough to do anything anymore. The insurance companies? No, they just go bankrupt if it costs too much. in which case it falls to the government, i.e. you & me again. I say build at your own risk if you choose to build on shifting sands. Got carried away. End of rant.

  7. Great flashback for us of Cape May area! Was part of our stomping grounds for three years:)

  8. I have never heard of Cape May, but am quite impressed with this area from the highlights you have shared. The biggest surprise to me is all the bird watching. I am happy to see that this area looks like it has recovered from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. At least the birds seem to be enjoying their natural habitat.

  9. That's a lot of birders gathered. I like your way of birding better while walking and exploring.

  10. We stopped once at those same refuges, in August though so no hawk watches then. Be sure to go to Chincoteague and Assateague in Maryland if you have time. I love looking for the ponies!

  11. Through all our travels over the years, Cape May remains one of our biggest surprises. It was an interim stop (for three days) on our first trip from Tennessee to New England. We had a little apartment on the top floor of one of the gingerbread houses and spent all three days just simply walking around in the historic district trying to decide if what we were seeing was horribly tacky or simply wonderful! For sure, we'd never seen anything quite like it! I read so many travel blogs and rarely see anyone visiting Cape May. So glad you all did. Sadly, we didn't have time to visit the Lighthouse or do any hiking. I've been looking for a way to work a few more days back into one of our Summer Adventures! Will you all take the ferry from Cape May Point to Lewes, Delaware? We did (in the opposite direction), but I imagine it's rather pricey for an RV and a toad!

  12. Beautiful Schwans a schwimming!! I will be curious to learn if you guys are taking the Lewes Ferry south. I would have liked to take that, but didn't have the time. My Winnie is envious of Winona's bath!

  13. Cape May is also famous for its small bird migration in fall. I spent one fall banding out there way back when. October will see a great influx of all kinds of sparrows and Monarch butterflies.

    You are right on with the shovelers. :)

  14. We were at the Cape May Lighthouse about 12 years ago and there was no charge to climb to the top!! Really like the look of the Nature Conservancy...less crowded than that bird watchers gathering;o)) Love the swans...we had several families every year near our former house...they are so graceful on the water but quiet awkward on land and need a long runway to get airborne;o))

  15. Amazing all the birders there! Surprised it doesn't scare them all away. Reminds me of that movie with Owen Wilson "The Big Year". Stupid movie, but funny birding moments.

  16. Looks lovely but I could certainly do without all of the people.......... Love love love the last picture of the beautiful swan. She looks all fluffy. Isn't your friend Jody at Cape May? Have fun- miss you! XXXOOO

  17. I looked up superstitions about seeing swans: "Seeing swans on a Friday morning is good luck, however if you see swans on a Friday evening it is bad luck. Swans taking to the air, expect strong winds, but if you see just three flying together it could mean a national disaster." Hmm...interesting - I think you're okay ;) As for the song - it works with the "s" in seven of course - better than seven snakes slithering or seven squirrels scurrying - Ha! Quite a stately lighthouse - the heron is stately too.

  18. Brings back alot of memories,used to live in Egg Harbour and on the shore in Briggentine.We use to love to go to Ocean City whe Ernie and I just met.The swans are beautiful and the birds are aresome. So much to discover..who would have known it was one of the best birding ..that camera was incredible

  19. Can't seem to type the right letters...excuse my spelling..letting the note go too soon before checking it

  20. Haven't been reading blogs lately, but glad you enjoyed Cape May! That's where we are this week, back at the beach house we rented earlier in the year. It really is lovely here, eh?


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