You have reached the Cape May birding hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. Highlights of the week ending Jan. 20, 1994 include COMMON REDPOLL, SNOWY OWL, BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE, COMMON EIDER, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, SHARP-TAILED SPARROW, SEASIDE SPARROW, TREE SPARROW, FOX SPARROW, AMERICAN BITTERN, TREE SWALLOW, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, REDHEAD, BALD EAGLE, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, AMERICAN WOODCOCK, BROWN THRASHER, news and announcements.
COMMON REDPOLL sightings are coming in now; two were in Port Republic on Jan. 15, one was at the South Cape May Meadows (SCCM) on Jan. 13; two at Higbee Beach on Jan. 17; and nine in Cape May Point on Jan. 20. A PURPLE FINCH was seen for one day only in Goshen on Jan. 15.
Two SNOWY OWLS have been at Holgate since early January, most recently reported Jan. 15. They might be anywhere, at the far end of the beach or up near the houses. They both seem to be immature birds. A SNOWY OWL continues to be seen at Cape Henlopen, Delaware; call the Del. hotline for details.
An adult BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE and two sub-adult male COMMON EIDERS were seen at the Coast Guard Jetty from the Wildwood Crest side on Jan. 14. This jetty is very accessible from the north side; just park near the beach at the south end of Wildwood Crest and walk the beach all the way to the jetty. This is Coast Guard property but access is permitted. Once you reach the jetty be very careful; it is very slippery and dangerous. The birds can often be seen without walking out on the jetty.
Ocean Drive, the road between Cape May and Wildwood Crest, was quite good on Jan. 14. An adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was again seen on the shell pile behind Axelsson and Johnson's fish market. Six SEASIDE SPARROWS, five SHARP-TAILED SPARROWS, and one AMERICAN BITTERN were in the marshes on the roadside. TREE SPARROWS are in evidence with sightings at feeders and yards in Goshen and Cape May, and along the trails at Cape May Point state park and Higbee Beach. Both TREE SWALLOW and COMMON YELLOWTHROAT were seen Jan. 17 at the state park. A YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER lingers in a yard at the north end of Lily Lake at Cape May Point. Eight SNOW BUNTINGS were seen Jan. 20 on the beach at the Concrete Ship. Two REDHEADS were seen Jan. 20 at Cape May Point, one in the ocean waters near the Bunker, and the other around the jetties at Saint Mary's-by-the-sea.
EAGLES continue to be seen and are probably having a field day with all the stressed waterfowl. Two adult BALD EAGLES were seen Jan. 14 at Corbin City Wildlife Management Area, an area of impoundments on the north side of the Tuckahoe River. The birds were perched on the ice in the impoundments drinking from a lone hole in the ice. A MERLIN was seen Jan. 19 in North Cape May. Five different ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS were seen at Mott's Creek north of Brigantine NWR on Jan. 19. This seems to be the only place in South Jersey where Rough-legs are being seen this winter.
The freezing temperatures day after day are taking a toll on the birds. CMBO's butterfly garden at 707 East Lake Drive has had some thawed ground most of the week and attracted a near-starving AMERICAN WOODCOCK and an assortment of other normally-rare winter skulkers, inc luding two CATBIRDS, two BROWN THRASHERS, and at least 3 FOX SPARROWS. WOODCOCK are especially affected by the deep freeze since they feed by probing the ground. They are forced out to road shoulders where they often are road-killed. Between 20 and 30 Woodcock were counted between Cape May and Cape May Point this week. One of the last relatively mild days, Jan. 13, a number of Woodcock were seen and heard displaying at dusk.
CMBO's sea watch at the north end of Avalon still is producing migrants. At least 650 birds were counted on Jan. 19, including Buffleheads, Canada Geese, Red-breasted Mergansers and Double-crested Cormorants. A flight on Jan. 17 produced mostly 88 Red-throated Loons and a number of Horned Grebes. The total now stands at over 168,000 birds; the watch is being staffed as time and weather permit. It's located at Seventh St. in Avalon.
Pelagic trip announcements: the Miss Chris fishing boat, Capt. Fred Ascoli, will offer a birding pelagic trip on Monday Feb. 21 (President's Day), going 15 to 40 miles offshore; leaving at 5 AM, out 12 hours, costs $50/person. Call (609) 884-3939 to register or for more information. Sure to fill quickly, a pelagic trip is scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend by Armas Hill's Focus on Nature tours. The boat leaves from Barnegat Light at 8:30 PM May 27, goes out to Hudson Canyon and returns at about 6 PM the following day. Cost is $89. Call (302)5291876 for details or registration. In addition, the Miss Chris runs Saturday fishing trips starting Feb. 19, twelve hours long, leaving at 5 AM, and fishing for cod, pollock and ling. Birders are welcome but the focus is fishing and you still have to pay. Call Fred Ascoli as above for information.
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Cape May Bird Observatory is a research and education unit of the New Jersey Audubon Society. Our aim is to perpetuate and preserve the ornithological significance of Cape May. Your membership supports these goals and this birding hotline. For more information regarding Cape May birding, our programs and field trips, phone our office or write to CMBO, PO Box 3, Cape May Point, NJ 08212. If you're in the area please stop by our headquarters at 707 East Lake Drive, Cape May Point. The Cape May birding hotline is a service of Cape May Bird Observatory and includes sightings from Cape May, Atlantic, and Cumberland counties and adjacent areas. Updates are made on Thursday evening, more often if warranted. Please report sightings of rare or unusual birds to CMBO at (609) 884-2736. Thank you for calling; good birding.