Birders spy rare finds at 22nd World Series

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:48

    NEW JERSEY —For the 1,000 birdwatchers who cast their binoculars to the sky and trekked through forests, the New Jersey Audubon Society's annual World Series of Birding proved to be more than an avian pursuit. Besides logging a combined 260 native and visiting species over 24 hours, bird enthusiasts took in a cross-section of Garden State wildlife: bottle-nosed dolphins off Cape May, bears across north Jersey and croaking things in the swamps. ``One of the great things about birdwatching is you get to see other wildlife,'' said Don Freiday of the Bernardsville-based Audubon Society. ``At night, sometimes listening for birds gets difficult because of all of the frogs calling.'' The 22nd annual competition began Saturday, just after midnight, attracting 98 teams from 27 states, Canada and Turkey. Among the competitors were nine members from Ringwood's Weis Ecology Center. Garrett Mountain was a popular stop, because it's considered one of the premier bird watching spots in the state. The event, sponsored by the Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory, raises more than $500,000 for conservation efforts. Teams of three to six people were required to stay together. Nearly all members had to observe a species for it to be counted. Scattered rain kept birds from their seasonal migratory patterns, resulting in fewer species observed this year. But, the Nikon Sports Optics team from Philadelphia won the event, recording 222 species.