Ever have the opportunity to spontaneously drop everything and go away for a wonderful weekend without your computer?
I had that thrill this past weekend when my dear friends Kathy and Hugh invited us to spend the weekend with them at their new (to them) Cape May home and wildlife garden. Oddly, I have quite a history with this wildlife garden, as it used to belong to my friend Irma McVey, but this was the first time I had been able to visit since Kathy and Hugh purchased this property after Irma’s passing.
When we first arrived at their house, we got to spend a delightful afternoon at the new Cape May Brewing Company tasting some of their delicious offerings, and then we headed out to see a spectacle that I have wanted to see for many years.
Every year from the beginning of August until the first week of September the Purple Martins gather into huge flocks before making their journey south in huge migratory flocks. Cape May, NJ residents also gather in flocks to watch these huge gatherings of these birds at the Maurice River bridge. For observant nature watchers, this spectacle is the first sign that summer is coming to an end.
The next morning we got up quite early to attend a bird walk at Cox Hall Wildlife Management Area, a former golf course that is now being restored to wildlife habitat. It’s so amazing to me to see large areas like this being given back to wildlife, especially in an area where the pressures of new development are overwhelming.
The former turf grass of the golf course is now open meadows, the water hazards are now wildlife ponds, and some of the property has even started to revert to woodland. And the birds are loving this new habitat!
My friend Hugh got great photos of a beautifully posing Lark Sparrow, an uncommon bird in this area, and a life bird for many attending this walk.
Part of the restoration of this land has included planting large fields of sunflowers to feed the birds.
The evening before, Kathy and Hugh had been talking about wanting to meet one of Irma’s very dear friends, Evelyn Lovitz. In another of those funny twists of fate, Evelyn was also attending this walk. So we invited her to come back to the house for breakfast and a nice leisurely stroll through the wildlife garden, where we were so excited to discover Monarch caterpillars.
After spending the afternoon with Evelyn, we had another treat when our mutual friends Pat and Clay Sutton stopped by for dinner. Ironically, I had first met Irma McVey while attending a series of wildlife gardening workshops that Pat was teaching.
I was beginning to see that not only is there a web of life in the wildlife garden, but there is a corresponding web of life between wildlife gardeners
Carole Sevilla Brown lives in Philadelphia, PA, and she travels the country speaking about Ecosystem Gardening for Wildlife. Check out her new free online course Ecosystem Gardening Essentials, 15 free lessons delivered to your inbox every week.
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