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Cape May Rare Bird Alert - 1/23/1997
You have reached the Cape May Birding Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. Highlights for the week ending January 23 include SNOWY OWL, EURASIAN WIGEON, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, DICKCISSEL, a major invasion of REDHEADS, an announcement about an upcoming Pelagic Trip, news of the recent Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey, news of the Cumberland and Belleplain CBC's, local nature notes, and news of CMBO's upcoming programs and field trips.

You've reached our new CAPE MAY BIRDING HOTLINE phone number, 609-861-0466. Make a note of it and please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this change may have caused you.

The SNOWY OWL continues to be seen at Brigantine NWR in the southeast corner of the East Pool. It is a lightly marked bird, so probably an immature male. Another lightly marked SNOWY OWL was discovered in Avalon on January 20th on the beach at 44th Street. It was seen at last light on January 20th, flying from roof top to roof top, and last seen at 32nd Street. It has not been rediscovered since.

EURASIAN WIGEON continues to be seen along Ocean Drive in the Coast Guard ponds west of the toll bridge. Seen this week on January 18 and 19.

An ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was seen in the Cape May Point State Park at the end of the yellow trail were it meets the beach on January 23. This may well be the same individual seen around the hawkwatch earlier in the season.

A DICKCISSEL was seen on January 17 in West Cape May near Third Ave. Unfortunately, the DICKCISSEL that had taken up residence at the Beanery met its demise as only the wings were found on the 22nd.

An incredible count of 34 REDHEADS was made at Lily Lake on January 23. This is far and away the highest number of REDHEADS ever seen in Cape May County.

Other highlights include CLAY-COLORED SPARROW continuing in West Cape May on Second Ave., LEAST BITTERN in the South Cape May Meadows (SCMM) on the 19th, AMERICAN BITTERN at Lily Lake on the 23rd, and YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER on Cape May Point on the 18th.

CMBO's Friday evening "Hawk & Owl Watches" and Saturday "All About Owls Workshops" have been enjoying a GREAT HORNED OWL at dusk at Jakes Landing, when it comes out to perch on the dead trees in the marsh.

The Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey, held January 11 & 12, recorded a record 133 BALD EAGLES and 5 GOLDEN EAGLES. 65 of the Bald Eagles were adults. The Lower Delaware River, between Oldman's Creek and Trenton held 12 bald eagles. 53 were found in the Delaware Bay Coast Region, from Salem County south through Reeds Beach in Cape May County. And 68 Balds and 5 Goldens were recorded for the Atlantic Coast Region from Manahawkin south to Tuckahoe. Our thanks to the 79 volunteer observers who made it all possible.

The Belleplain CBC, held December 29th, recorded 122 species, including 5 new to the count: TRICOLORED HERON, N. SHOVELER, LEAST SANDPIPER, SOLITARY VIREO, and NELSON'S SHARP-TAILED SPARROW. There were also record high counts for 23 species! The Belleplain Counts cumulative total now stands at 157 species.

The 47th Annual Cumberland CBC, held January 5th, recorded 123 species, including 3 new to the count: LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, ROSS' GOOSE, and the split SHARP-TAILED SPARROW. There were record high counts for 12 species, including 405 RUDDY DUCKS, 39 BLACK VULTURES, 52 WILD TURKEYS, 108 CLAPPER RAILS, 3 KING RAILS, 3,556 AMERICAN CROWS, 24 WINTER WRENS, 218 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET, 77 CHIPPING SPARROWS, and 910 DARK-EYED JUNCO. Short-eared Owl was missed for the first time since 1980 and 1971 before that. AMERICAN KESTREL was at its lowest since 1951. The Cumberland Count's cumulative total since 1950 now stands at 191 species.

Thanks to all who responded to our request for information on SHORT-EARED OWLS and where they are this winter, since sightings are very sparse here. In South Jersey one bird continues to be seen at the Forsythe NWR, otherwise they are absent from all their usual haunts. Bill Thompson, from Bird Watchers Digest in Ohio, reports numbers that are stable with previous years. But nearly everyone else agreed that numbers were low this winter. Just across the Delaware Bay, Short-ears are present in low numbers where the habitat is suitable.

A brief announcement follows: The boat, the Miss Chris, out of Cape May is running a Pelagic Trip on Sunday, February 16th, from 5 AM to 5 PM. The cost is $50/person. The boat will be going 30-40 miles offshore and will be chumming to lure in seabirds. In the past this trip has enjoyed great looks at alcids, Razorbills, Great Skua 2 years, Puffin, and Common Murre 3 times. To register or for more information, call Captain Fred Ascoli at 609-884-3939.

Local Nature Notes follow: Freezing and sub-zero temperatures froze many of the waterways and concentrated waterfowl and other birds wherever there was open water. Some fatalities occurred where birds were entirely frozen out and ended up on road shoulders. A warming trend has opened up waters in the last few days and waterfowl is dispersing again. Flock after flock of Snow Geese were seen returning January 23rd, heading north back across the Delaware Bay. Red-tailed Hawks are courting now. Pairs are being seen sitting side by side. Males are doing their roller coaster flight display for nearby females. American Holly trees are heavy with berries. Sumac fruit clusters stand out now. And it's time to search for large stick nests that Great Horned Owls will be using any day, they being our earliest nesting bird - on eggs by late January.

Some of CMBO's upcoming programs follow: The Cape May Bird Observatory's winter program schedule includes weekly "Owl & Hawk Watches at Jakes Landing" every Friday, now through March 14th at 4:00 p.m. Weekly "Winter Bird Walks" meet every Sunday, now through March at 8:30 a.m. in the raised picnic pavilion at the Cape May Point State Park. Our next Members' Night is scheduled for February 19th at the NEW CMBO in Goshen from 7:30-9 p.m., where Vince Elia will present a slide program on "Winter Gulls." Five "All About Owls Workshops" are scheduled: January 25, February 1, 5, and 15. The "Bird Watching For Beginners Course" will be taught January 25-26, February 22-23, and March 29-30. Other upcoming programs include an "Oldsquaws In Love" Field Trip on February 22, a "Woodcock Dance" outing on March 8, a "Poor Man's Pelagic" trip on March 29, AND MUCH MORE! Call CMBO at 609-861-0700 to learn more about the programs and to register.

The 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, and the Observatory, call our new Center for Research & Education at 609-861-0700 or send a request for information to CMBO, 600 Route 47 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210. If you are in the area do not hesitate to visit our birding bookstore at 707 E. Lake Drive in Cape May Point, open every day except Tues. & Wednesday, 9-5. Our new Research and Education Center will not be open fulltime for visitors until April, but many of the indoor winter programs will be held there.

The Cape May Birding Hotline is a service of New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory and details sightings from Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties and near shore waters. Updates are made on Thursday evenings, more often if warranted. Please report sightings of rare or unusual birds to CMBO at 609-884-2736 or on Tuesday and Wednesday to 609-861-0700. Thanks for calling and GOOD BIRDING!

 
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