Experience the ultimate fall bird migration at America’s quintessential beach town. Historic Cape May in October is considered the top birding destination in North America to witness fall migration, especially for birds of prey. Timed for peak land and sea bird diversity and quantity, we visit famous New Jersey birding locations and little-known local patches up and down the coast, including the Cape May Bird Observatory’s nature center and hawk watch platforms and Avalon Sea Watch; tour the world’s largest contiguous salt marsh by boat, explore Higbee Beach WMA’s forests and fields, bird the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, and experience the thrill of large scale migration from the Morning Flight viewing platform.

Cape May itself is a national historic site and offers incredible examples of Victorian architecture and charm, as well as some of the best seafood on the east coast. Our lodgings for the week are at a classic beachside hotel in historic Cape May. Many mornings begin with an optional sunrise beach walk in search of shorebirds and the beautiful Black Skimmer. Daily trips range from exploring the many examples of tidal salt marshes by boat and van, to visiting one of the most successful beach and dune restorations in the United States.

It’s Cape May’s unique location, situated on a south facing peninsula where the Atlantic seaboard meets the Delaware Bay, that makes it a geographic migrant trap. Birds, both land and sea flyers, sometimes by the thousands, follow the coastline south and find themselves at this peninsula; the perfect spot to stop and fuel up before heading out over the Delaware Bay. Far from the metro areas of northern New Jersey, the Cape May peninsula is home to forests, farmland, wetland meadows, and salt marshes. We catch late migrating eastern warblers and experience the larger songbird migration, which is peaking while we visit. Famous for its hawk migration too, we spend time at the various hawk watches and counting locations. Large numbers of shorebirds and seabirds are also in migration and they use the vast saltmarsh flats to feed and rest.

Please keep in mind that weather, winds, and tides play an important role in the migration along the coast and while we visit all the great birding sites, we may rearrange daily activities accordingly.

Tour Highlights

  • Enjoy a one-stop, unpack, and relax tour at a beachside hotel
  • Watch for large numbers of Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks, Northern Harrier, Bald Eagle, American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, and Merlin at the Cape May State Park Hawk Watch Platform
  • Spend an afternoon at The Nature Conservancy’s South Cape May Meadows Preserve, one of the most successful beach habitat restorations on the Atlantic seaboard
  • Look for Common, Forster’s, Caspian and Royal Terns at Stone Harbor Point
  • Search for the elusive Diamondback Terrapin, America’s only saltwater marsh turtle along with migrating ducks, shorebirds, and herons aboard a salt marsh pontoon boat cruise
  • Visit Avalon Sea Watch, one of the country’s longest-running seabird watch/counting sites and a good spot to see dolphins and whales
  • Watch hundreds, if not thousands, of warblers and other passerines at Morning Flight, a morning watch of returning birds that were pushed out to sea on their evening migration
  • Marvel at the east coast’s largest population of migrating Monarch Butterflies

Trip Itinerary

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Tues., Oct. 8      Arrivals

Please plan to arrive today at the Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) where we assemble as a group at 2:00 PM at a pre-arranged baggage claim area. Your guide is wearing binoculars and meets you there. Then, we load up and travel about 2.5 hours to our lodgings in Cape May, New Jersey. If time permits we visit the Cape May Point State Park and its famous Hawk Watch and then take a bit of time to freshen up for dinner and get to know our fellow traveling companions.
Accommodations at the Sea Crest Inn (D)

Wed., Oct. 9        Higbee Beach | Cape May Point State Park | South Cape May Meadows Preserve

We’re off for an early start to the Morning Flight viewing platform at Higbee Beach, an ongoing morning watch/count of returning migrants that were pushed out to sea on their evening migration. This is a chance to see hundreds, if not thousands, of warblers and other passerines making their way back to land. We do this at least once on the trip as a group and then as an option on any appropriate morning.

Today we get to know Cape May. We stay close to this pretty beach town and familiarize ourselves with the island and the local spots that we visit throughout the week. We start at the Cape May Bird Observatory headquarters and gift shop to orient ourselves, get the local birding news, and pickup any birding necessities. Then we’re off to the Cape May Point State Park Hawk Watch Platform, nature center, and light house. There, we spend the rest of the morning hawk watching and exploring the state park. A good day on the hawk watch platform can be marked by the passing of 2000 – 3000 Sharp-shinned and Coopers Hawks, and dozens of Peregrine Falcon and Merlin. More than 1000 Osprey have been counted on a given day, too! Walking the nearby beach can produce sightings of Parasitic Jaeger, all three scoters, loons, and many species of gull. Walks around the park can produce late migrating eastern passerines this time of year and multiple duck species as well. Lunch is at one of our favorite local cafes.

This afternoon we explore the South Cape May Meadows Preserve. Owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy, this important coastal birding area is one of the most successful habitat restorations on the Atlantic seaboard. Fall migration at the Meadows can be nothing short of spectacular. It’s famous for evening Merlin and Peregrine flights as they work the meadows to catch that last dragonfly snack before settling in for the evening. Many of the hawks counted at the Cape May Hawk Watch pass directly over the Meadows or hunt within it. Peregrine, Cooper's Hawk, and Merlin can put on a spectacular show from mid-September through late October, along with scads of Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, and even the occasional Bald Eagle circling overhead. Beach areas can offer a good selection of shorebirds often sitting inland to get out of the wind.
Accommodations at the Sea Crest Inn (B,L,D)

Thurs., Oct. 10       Cape May Seafront | Stone Harbor Point | Salt Marsh Boat Tour

This morning those who wish can enjoy an optional sunrise beach walk before breakfast. Migration is much in evidence with passerine calls heard in the predawn and migrants foraging in the dune vegetation.

After breakfast we head to Stone Harbor Point where many of the shorebirds and waterfowl in the area can be found. Common, Forster’s, Caspian, and Royal Terns are all possible. Monarch butterflies are common in the brush, as are migrant songbirds.

After a local lunch we head to Miss Chris Marina where we board the Osprey, a large pontoon tour boat, to explore the salt marshes along New Jersey’s Intracoastal Waterway. Here we have a chance to see many shorebirds and migrating waterfowl that utilize the sea grass islands and constantly changing tidal creek mudflats of the saltmarsh. We watch for the elusive Diamondback Terrapin, North America’s only saltwater marsh turtle.
Accommodations at the Sea Crest Inn (B,L,D)

Fri., Oct. 11       Edwin B. Forsythe NWR | Sunset Beach

We bird our way to the vast salt marsh areas north of Cape May today as we make our way up the coast to Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (aka Brigantine), a 43,000-acre natural area with both fresh and saltwater marshes. Here we have great opportunities to see Clapper Rail, American Bittern, Black-crowned Night-Heron, migrating shorebirds and waterfowl, as well as Peregrine Falcon hunting the marshes. All the East Coast waterfowl and wading birds can be found here, and Brant and Snow Geese should be just arriving. Watch as Peregrine and Merlin push around shorebirds that take flight in flashing waves of motion. Osprey are common and we may even tire of seeing them! There are thousands of acres of both fresh and salt marshes here and almost any East Coast water bird is possible—Roseate Spoonbill, White Ibis, and American Avocet have all graced previous visits.

In late afternoon we explore the salt marshes as we drive the intracoastal areas with stops at Nummy Island where Nelson’s, Saltmarsh, and Seaside Sparrows frequent narrow tidal channels as well as the large, pale form of Savannah Sparrow, ‘Ipswich Sparrow’, a sub-species that breeds solely on Cape Sable Island but winters in small numbers along the Atlantic Coast. Tides may require that we rearrange some of the activities today. We close the day at Sunset Beach in Cape May Point to watch for terns, various gull species, cormorants, and scoters in Delaware Bay and of course enjoy a fabulous sunset. We then return to our hotel to freshen up before dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations at the Sea Crest Inn (B,L,D)

Sat., Oct. 12      Higbee Beach | Beach Plum Farm | Cape May Point State Park

We start the day with another pre-dawn visit to the Morning Flight platform at Higbee Beach. Past experience has shown that repeat visits can be extremely productive, especially during the first two to three hours of daylight. An outdoor breakfast, weather permitting, follows at Beach Plum Farm, after which we walk the property’s trails and fields searching for migrating songbirds and raptors. The rest of the day is wide open, perhaps to revisit some of the premier birding spots such as the Cape May Hawk Watch, or watch Monarchs roosting and being tagged at Cape May Point State Park, as well as paying careful attention to the most recent grapevine news and rare bird alerts which could lead us anywhere on the Cape May peninsula!
Accommodations at the Sea Crest Inn (B,L,D)

Sun., Oct. 13         Avalon Sea Watch | Jake’s Landing | Historic Cape May

This morning we head north to the Avalon Sea Watch, one of the country’s longest-running seabird watch/counting sites. Birds we’re likely see here include: Double-crested Cormorant (200,000 per year), Red-throated Loon (50,000 per year), scoters (100,000 – 200,000 annually, mostly Black and Surf), Northern Gannet (50,000 per year), and uncountable numbers of gulls. Here, a good day for scoters can amount to a count of 20,000 birds! There is also a steady flow of Common Loon, terns of various species, Green-winged Teal, Long-tailed Duck, Bufflehead, Black Duck, scaup, and many other species. New Jersey Audubon counters are here to help with identification and information.

After brunch we head further north toward Jake’s Landing, an expansive area of saltmarsh haunted by Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, and Bald Eagle! Carefully checking the muddy creeks may reveal Clapper Rail and Nelson’s Sparrow and we shall hopefully find Palm Warbler of both sub-species and good numbers of Savannah Sparrow. The saltmarsh is overlooked by mixed woodland, often an extremely productive area for woodpeckers—Pileated, Hairy, Downy, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers are all possible, plus Yellow-bellied Sapsucker … that’s as well as White-breasted and Red-breasted Nuthatches! Eastern Screech-Owl, while more aloof, is also resident in the woodland and we may just get lucky and hear one call.

Late afternoon can be taken at leisure, a relaxing walk along the beach or an exploration of Cape May’s famous historic downtown area, closed to vehicular traffic. Our farewell dinner tonight is at another wonderful Cape May restaurant where we finish our bird lists and reflect on the week.
Accommodations at the Sea Crest Inn (B,L,D)

Mon., Oct. 14      Departures

After an early breakfast, we depart for the Philadelphia airport. (B)

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Group birding

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Sanderling by Hugh Simmons

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Whale-watching

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    South Cape May Meadows

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Birding the Beach by Hugh Simmons

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Tree Swallows by Jay Eisenberg

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    American Oystercatcher by Paul Edelman

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Cape May Beach

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Osprey Boat Tour by Hugh Simmons

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Red-tailed Hawk by Paul Edelman

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Cape May Lighthouse by Hugh Simmons

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Bird banding by Hugh Simmons

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Yellow-rumped Warbler by Hugh Simmons

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Greater Yellowlegs by Paul Edelman

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Birding at Dawn by Hugh Simmons

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    White Ibis by Jay Eisenberg

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Royal Tern by Hugh Simmons

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Group Photo by Rick Weiman

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Great Egret by Hugh Simmons

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Bird banding by Hugh Simmons

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Western Willet by Hugh Simmons

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Group Birding by Hugh Simmons

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Cape May Warbler

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Beach Plum Farm by Hugh Simmons

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Birding Stone Harbor by Hugh Simmons

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Birding Cape Henlopen by Hugh Simmons

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Red-bellied Woodpecker

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Group Enjoying the View by Hugh Simmons

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Palm Warbler

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Group Photo by Hugh Simmons

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Peregrine Falcon by Hugh Simmons

  • Birding New Jersey, Bird watching Cape May, Cape May New Jersey, Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot, Endemic Birds

    Forsythe Tower by Hugh Simmons

Cost of the Journey

The cost of this journey is $3190 DBL / $3895 SGL, from Philadelphia. Cost is based on double occupancy and includes all accommodations, meals specified in the itinerary, group airport transfers, professional guide services, local park and other area entrance fees, and miscellaneous program expenses. Cost does not include transportation to or from your home to Philadelphia or items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone charges, porterage, maid gratuities, or beverages from the bar.

Travel Details

Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.

Arrival and Departure Airport: Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
Arrival Details: Please plan flights to arrive October 8, 2024 no later than 2:00 PM. If you plan to drive to Cape May, please meet the group at the Sea Crest Inn around 3:00 PM. Parking is available.
Departure Details: Plan flights to depart October 14, after 1:00 PM


Travel Tip: If you are arriving early or staying on after the trip in Philadelphia, there are plenty of hotels near the airport. The Philadelphia Airport Marriott is connected to Terminal B of the airport and very convenient. Another nearby option is the Hampton Inn Philadelphia Airport. If you’re looking to explore around Philadelphia, there is no shortage of things to do! The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of the American Revolution, the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, and the African American Museum are just a few of the great museums in the city. No trip to Philadelphia is complete without a visit to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, which is conveniently located near several museums and the National Constitution Center. Philadelphia is easy to get around via taxi, Uber, or SEPTA, which is the public transportation system offering buses, trains, trolleys, and subways. 

Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.

New Jersey

Cape May

  • Rick Weiman

    Rick lives in Oakland, NJ with his wife Patricia and two teenage children, Jack and Annabel. Rick has led birding trips for a number of years as a volunteer associate naturalist for NJ Audubon and a preserve monitor for The Nature Conservancy. He just completed his 30th world series of birding event, raising dollars for endangered species recovery efforts. His passion for conservation started during his college years at Rutgers where he majored in Biology and he has been a trustee of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ since 2000. More recently his volunteer and fundraising efforts for The Raptor Trust, the largest wild bird rehabilitation center on the east coast, resulted in his recent addition to their board of trustees in 2018. In his spare time besides birding, Rick enjoys playing tennis, street hockey, and is also a youth hockey coach.

    Other trips with Rick Weiman

Map for Cape May: Fall Migration

Essential Information +

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have Read more

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!

Ahead of Your Tour

  • Please talk with your doctor about general health needs. It is a good idea to consult with your doctor about general vaccinations recommended for travel.
  • Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed. After you make travel reservations, please send a copy of your travel itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office at clientservices@naturalistjourneys.com.
  • Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
  • Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Remember to pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Health Information

We will share a copy of your health and emergency contact information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important in case of a medical emergency. In addition to bringing any prescription medications with you, we recommend that you have a copy of the prescriptions in case of loss.

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect

You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.

Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.

The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.  

We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.

Food & Drink

We carry water and juices/cold drinks in the cooler each day, and sodas if people like them. Please also plan on bringing and filling your water bottle for hiking each day. We try to use as few plastics as possible!

Packing, Clothing & Laundry

Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Please pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Dress is informal and is casual even at restaurants. Layering is a great way to stay comfortable. Protective clothing is essential, whether it be from sun, rain, cold, insects, or vegetation. You need closed toe shoes, and wear comfortable walking shoes with good tread. Hiking boots with good support for hiking and on rocky terrain can work well.

Spending Money

Many people ask how much to plan to bring as spending money. Part of that depends on how much you want to shop. Most shops will take VISA and MasterCard or American Express. Typical items people purchase include local souvenirs and T-shirts, caps, and natural history books.  You may want to bring cash for drinks with dinner (if available) or smaller local purchases.

Gratuities

Expect the normal tipping protocol to apply for hotel maids and bar service. If at the end of the tour, you would like to show your appreciation to your guides, tipping is entirely appropriate but at your discretion. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services. Gratuities for group meals are included. For your birding tour guide, we suggest $10-$15 per day per guest. Note that if there is more than one guide, this amount can be split among them.

Cell Phones & Internet Service

Wi-Fi and cell phone service are available in most US destinations, although there are some exceptions in remote locations. Wi-Fi is generally provided in all hotels, lodges, and restaurants you visit, at least in public areas. Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers unless it appears to be an emergency as this disrupts other guests – please plan cell phone calls on your own time.

Smoking

Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.

Transportation

For this tour, your guides will drive travelers in either full-size or mini-vans or a combination of those two. We ask all attendees to please rotate your seating, so you ride with different drivers and alternate between front and back seats.

Photo Release & Sharing

We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.

By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives permission to record photos and/or video of your participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochures, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.

Questions?

Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys.com or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.

 

Packing List +

Please Pack Light! Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid Read more

Please Pack Light!

Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage.  Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle.  It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 45 pounds.  Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.

Dress is very informal. We want you to be comfortable and the key to that is layering. Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty – and things that are comfortable and easy. Lightweight long sleeve shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing, as they are more protective from sun, insects and vegetation.  Supportive hiking boots will be nice for our walks.

Clothing & Gear

  • Lightweight long pants, 2-3 pair
  • Shorts (optional)
  • Lightweight long-sleeved shirts, 2-3 (Loose fitting keeps you cool)
  • T-shirts, short-sleeved shirts or equivalent, 3-4 (remember you may buy some along the way!)
  • Casual clothing for evenings
  • Personal underclothing and pajamas
  • Socks – lightweight and easy to wash and dry
  • Comfortable walking shoes, such as tennis shoes
  • Lightweight hiking boots (Please note that trails could be on uneven terrain and may be muddy – bring shoes with good support and firm grip tread)
  • Comfortable sandals or light shoes for evenings, travel days
  • Fleece jacket or sweater
  • Raincoat or poncho
  • Bathing suit (optional)
  • Hat with broad brim
  • Gloves, scarf, and a warm cap for early mornings/windy days
  • Bandana (optional)

Equipment & Miscellaneous

  • E-ticket verification
  • Photo Identification
  • Passport with copy kept elsewhere (for international travelers)
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Binoculars (a shower cap is great to cover these when raining)
  • Spotting scope and tripod (optional, guide will have one)
  • Camera, battery/charger/extra batteries, memory cards/film, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual (optional)
  • Walking stick (optional)
  • Umbrella – compact & not brightly colored (optional useful for protection from rain if not windy)
  • Small daypack to carry your field gear
  • Small flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries
  • Alarm clock, or use your cell phone
  • Sunscreen/lip balm with SPF
  • Sunglasses with neck strap
  • Insect repellent
  • Toiletry articles
  • Water bottle (or plan to refill one bought on location)
  • Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
  • Field guides (optional)
  • Laundry soap if you plan to do hand washing
  • Earplugs (optional) 
  • Rechargeable power bank (optional)

 

WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing, and your mind will be at ease!

Medical & First Aid Items

  • Personal medication (and copy of vital prescriptions, including glasses – or have at easy reference to call or fax from home) and any medical alerts
  • Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed
  • Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments and stomach ailments (Imodium or Lomotil, antihistamine cream or tablets, eye drops, etc.)
  • Foot powder, lotions, general “comfort” items
  • Band-Aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
  • Small bottle of antibacterial hand sanitizer
  • Health insurance information and vaccination records
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts

 

Suggested Reading List +

There are many titles of interest for Cape May; the following are a few that Read more

There are many titles of interest for Cape May; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.

General Reading

The Birder’s Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds

The Complete Birder, A Guide to Better Birding

Lives of North American Birds

Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior

Field Guides

Sibley Birds East

Field Guide to the Birds of North America

Cape May Birds: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species

Birds and Birding at Cape May: What to See and When and Where to Go

History & Culture

Season at the Point: The Birds and Birders of Cape May: What to See When and Where to Go

The First Resort: Fun, Sun, Fire and War in Cape May, America’s Original Seaside Town

Birding Apps

Merlin App. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. Apple iPhone and Android phones (Free) https://merlin.allaboutbirds.org/

eBird Mobile (Citizen science platform to record and share sightings) Apple iPhone and Android phones (Free)

iNaturalist

Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.

 

Useful Links +

Learn more about your destination at these external websites, carefully researched for you. Read more

General

Philadelphia

Cape May, New Jersey

Nature, Wildlife & Biology

New Jersey Audubon

Cape May Birding

Cape May Bird Observatory Blog “View from the Cape” (commentary on recent sightings and birding trips)

Birding Delaware

Migration Stations:

Cape May State Park Hawk Watch

Avalon Sea Watch

Morning Flight Songbird Count

Conservation, Parks & Reserves

Cape May Bird Observatory

Cape May Point State Park

The Nature Conservancy’s Cape May Bird Refuge “The Meadows”

Stone Harbor Point

Nummy Island

Higbee Beach

Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge “Brigantine”

Cape Henlopen State Park

Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge

Geology & Geography

Geology of Coastal New Jersey

Geography of Cape May, NJ

Cape May “Rips”

History & Culture

History of Cape May

Culture of Cape May

Cape May Fall Festival

Helpful Travel Websites

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)

Homeland Security Real ID Act

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

ATM Locator

Date & Time


Photo credits: Banners: Black Skimmers (Jay Eisenberg), Morning Birding (Hugh Simmons), Black-crowned Night-Heron (Hugh Simmons), Northern Pintail (Sandy Sorkin), Forster's Tern (Hugh Simmons), Northern Shoveler (Sandy Sorkin), Merlin (Hugh Simmons) Thumbnails: Royal Tern (Hugh Simmons), Cape May Lighthouse, Black-and-white Warbler (Hugh Simmons), Hudsonian Godwit (Hugh Simmons), Peregrine Falcon (Hugh Simmons), Eastern Phoebe (Hugh Simmons), Great Cormorant (Hugh Simmons), Yellow-rumped Warbler (Hugh Simmons)

×

Like what we do?

Sign up for our weekly eNews to stay up to date!

Get to know our favorite destinations each week. We promise no spam.

No Thanks