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Philadelphia for a day in May - where to go?

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Old Saturday 25th January 2020, 16:38   #1
interoception
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Philadelphia for a day in May - where to go?

I have a day in Philadelphia before a business trip and would like some advice on where to go? Arriving on a Saturday afternoon, and have to be at work on the Monday. This will be mid-may 2020

Specifically - would it be worth hiring a car and spending a day at Cape May?

(looks like it's about 2hr drive from Philadelphia airport so needs to be worth it!)

thanks
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Old Sunday 26th January 2020, 21:02   #2
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It depends on what you're after.

Cape May is about 1-1/2 hours from Philly. Forsythe (Brigantine) is about an hour away. The Delaware bayshore (such as at Bombay Hook or Port Mahon Rd.) is also about an hour away. The latter two are great for amazing numbers of waders.

Heinz NWR (aka Tinicum) is within earshot of the airport and is very good for passerine migrants, but will have some waders, too. Wissahickon and Fairmount Parks are also good for migrants.
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Old Monday 27th January 2020, 06:10   #3
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Hi Jeff,

Thanks for your reply - it's most appreciated.

I'm UK based with little experience of birding in North America. I had 4 excellent days in Central Park, New York City last May, and then 4 rather unproductive days in the montreal area in July - so my North America list is just over 100 birds.

What am I after - a good day out where I can see a range of different species - in a reasonably pleasant environment. Also, there would be some advantage in somewhere where I didn't need to carry my telescope (bit of a pain to carry transatlantic for one day out) and would also be an advantage to be able to use public transport /stay in philadelphia rather than having to hire a car and get accomodation in Cape May (for example). I think I would prefer to visit somewhere where there are other birders about.

So I suppose I'm saying -- if there's sufficient to keep me interested in Philadelphia then I may prefer that -- but if you say - actually those other places are AMAZING & worth the extra effort then I'd look into hiring car etc as I could possibly visit the Philadelphia places in evenings / early mornings etc

Thanks ever so much!
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Old Wednesday 29th January 2020, 11:58   #4
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any further thoughts anyone?

will it be it worth the extra effort (car hire, extra hotel & driving & associated costs) to go out of Philadelphia?
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Old Wednesday 29th January 2020, 17:36   #5
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I was in Washington DC with work at the end of October 2018. I hired a car for the weekend and drove the 4.5 hours to Cape May. It was superb! I saw over 120 species including numerous raptors and warblers. I didn't really need it as I like walking trails but plenty of people at watchpoints pointing out birds. Only annoyance is lack of affordable places to stay. Even basic, empty motels quoted silly prices.
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Old Tuesday 4th February 2020, 21:11   #6
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To connect with other birders, have you tried the Birding Pal organization (http://www.birdingpal.org/pa.htm)? I count at least 8 that are in the city or adjacent area.
Fairly large for a city park, Fairmount Park is adjacent to and on both sides of the Schuylkill River. I have played in the creek of Wissahickon Parks 60 years ago as a youngster but no telling what I was exposed to in those waters! There are many trails to explore there.
Tinicum has a good record of species found but the airport is right there so birding by ear may be intermittent. Not that it would matter terribly for waterfowl...
I assume you've tried "Birding Philadelphia" on the internet and eBird reports for May sightings.

Cape May has a fabulous record but you have a single day if I am reading your post correctly. Do you want to spend most of it driving?

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Old Wednesday 5th February 2020, 00:40   #7
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There are decent spots around Philly... but for others you will have better chances elsewhere. Let us know if you have certain target species.. and I will help provide locations. There are plenty of spot besides Cape May.... but depending when exactly you may want to witness the craziness that is Red Knots, Ruddy Turnstones and other shorebirds feasting on the Horseshoe Crab eggs on the Delaware Bay shore in Cape May.


Cape May will have all species covered... all the migrating passerines(same as you had in Central Park) but always a surprise showing up down there. Also all the shorebirds/waders/ gulls/terns, etc, along with the normal raptors. But there are other spots along the NJ coast that can offer pretty much the same.


Let us know specifically what you're after... you may be able to find it closer to Philly.
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Last edited by Birdbrain22 : Wednesday 5th February 2020 at 00:47.
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Old Wednesday 5th February 2020, 05:39   #8
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Hi @Hamhed and @Birdbrain22

thanks ever so much for your really helpful replies - and for pointing me towards those websites which I wasn't familiar with

in response to your specific points

1) No I don't want to spend most of my time driving, my flight from the uK arrives on the Saturday evening so I figure I'd be OK to drive out that evening, stay in a hotel, then drive back to PHilly on the sunday evening. Google maps says 1 1/2 hrs from Philadelphia airport to cape may. Is that reasonable?

2) I don't have target species -- birding in a pleasant natural environment is important to me so airport noise would be a major negative. Migrating passerines always a joy. Happy to watch some shorebirds - especially if reasonably easy views

3) the date would be Sunday 17th May.

4) I always enjoy meeting other birders - especially when I'm in a new place - so thats part of my considerations

thanks

:-)
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Old Friday 7th February 2020, 01:36   #9
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Just a word of caution as I was unsure of dates, so I looked it up. Cape May is a bit crazy during migration but on the World Series of Birding and the Spring Festival it ratchets up even more. I have included a link for the Spring Festival as it is that weekend....https://njaudubon.org/nja-events/cap...ring-festival/

Yes Cape May is about 1.5 hours from Philly.

Another option closer to Philly are Mercer Meadows/Pole Farm and nearby Rosedale Park in Hopewell NJ...Bobolinks, Meadowlarks, Sparrows among the migrating/nesting passerines and raptors. But not near coast so you won't have those species.

Pole Farm...
https://ebird.org/hotspot/L251091?m=...changeDate=Set
https://ebird.org/barchart?r=L251091&yr=last10&m=5

Rosedale Park...
https://ebird.org/barchart?r=L258194...0&eyr=2020&m=5
https://ebird.org/hotspot/L258194?m=...changeDate=Set

Really close to the Airport in John Heinz... you will have a better chance for wader and sandpipers and the like here than the above places I mentioned, along with good passerines migrations... just depends what you want to do.

https://ebird.org/hotspot/L504403/last10/5
https://ebird.org/barchart?r=L504403&yr=last10&m=5
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Old Friday 28th February 2020, 21:43   #10
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Hi.

I lived in Phliadelphia for 4 years and it's a fantastic place to go birding and mid May is ideal.

My recommendation would be to go to John Heinz for the day, plenty of breeding and migrating passarines, potentially some shorebirds depending on the water levels and there will be plenty of other birders around as well.

If you want to go further afield then New Jersey has some fine spring birding, Glassboro woods and Bellplain woods has some good breeding birds and is on the way to Cape May.

If you want to connect with local birders who may take you out for a day you can contact http://birdphilly.org/ and one of the local birders may take you out for a day.

Good luck!

Rob
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Old Monday 2nd March 2020, 14:47   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobHynson View Post
Hi.

I lived in Phliadelphia for 4 years and it's a fantastic place to go birding and mid May is ideal.

My recommendation would be to go to John Heinz for the day, plenty of breeding and migrating passarines, potentially some shorebirds depending on the water levels and there will be plenty of other birders around as well.

If you want to go further afield then New Jersey has some fine spring birding, Glassboro woods and Bellplain woods has some good breeding birds and is on the way to Cape May.

If you want to connect with local birders who may take you out for a day you can contact http://birdphilly.org/ and one of the local birders may take you out for a day.

Good luck!

Rob
Thanks for that --- are the other places OK without a car? Not having to hire a car would be a great bonus.

Isn't Heinz a bit noisy with aeroplanes? Or is it OK?
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Old Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 08:00   #12
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You can get very close to John Heinz by train and walk the rest of the way - it's not far. The staff are really nice, I got a good lesson in US sparrow and warbler identification from one of the rangers who decided to be my personal guide for a couple of hours - a real star. :-) Had a pleasant time with a couple of local female birders too. Reasonable chance of Bald Eagle - a pair nest there. (Although one (male birder told us in no uncertain terms that the Bald Eagle we saw and photographed was a Red-tailed Hawk, because "You don't get Bald Eagles here." (His ancestors must have come from Yorkshire)...

My highlight of the day was non-avian, a Woodchuck, an animal I sort of regarded as mythical!

The plane noise was OK and the habitat is fantastic. https://www.fws.gov/refuge/John_Hein...tat/birds.html
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Old Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 19:52   #13
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That looks great -thanks I didn't realise that there is so much there. Heinz will definitely do me for a day.
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Old Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 21:37   #14
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I would say it depends on your preferences...warblers are a great find during May, however Cape May is more for shorebirds.

Here's a great guide for May birding
https://www.dvoc.org/DelValBirding/M...irding/May.htm
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Old Wednesday 4th March 2020, 12:48   #15
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Hello gratography --- thanks for that link - really helpful.
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