You have reached the Cape May birding hotline. Highlights of the week ending Oct. 1 include DICKCISSEL, PARASITIC JAEGER, AM. GOLDEN PLOVER, HUDSONIAN GODWIT, WILSON'S PHALAROPE, BAIRD'S SANDPIPER, SWAINSON'S HAWK, GREAT CORMORANT, recent landbird and hawk flights, and incoming waterfowl news, as well as local nature notes and news of CMBO programs.
A DICKCISSEL was at Higbee's Beach on Oct. 1. A CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was seen in the dunes at Cape May Point near Wilhelm St. on Sept. 24. After tropical storm Danielle passed through late Sept. 25, the morning of the 26th broughtfive PARASITIC JAEGERS close to shore at the concrete ship, flying out of the Delaware Bay. A GOLDEN PLOVER delighted hundreds of observers Sept. 24-26 as it fed on the beach at the Cape May Point State Park, and later at the concrete ship beach.
The South Cape May Meadows held a WILSON'S PHALAROPE on Sept. 24, and a HUDSONIAN GODWIT and a BAIRD'S SANDPIPER on the 25th; and both VIRGINIA and CLAPPER RAILS on the 25th. SURF and BLACK SCOTER have arrived in small numbers, being seen along the beachfront. Sept. 28th lots of landbirds were enjoyed at dawn along the Cape May canal at Higbee's Beach. WARBLING, PHILADELPHIA and SOLITARY VIREOS, YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER, BLACKPOLLS, BAY-BREASTED WARBLER, BLACKBURNIAN and PARULA WARBLERS, SWAINSON'S THRUSH, SCARLET TANAGER, and ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK. The same flight brought many sparrows to the South Cape May Meadows, including SAVANNAH SPARROW, SHARP-TAILED SPARROW, SEASIDE SPARROW, and one LINCOLN'S SPARROW. Sept. 30's landbird flight brought 14 BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLERS, 1 HOODED WARBLER, lots of PHOEBES, 1 BLUE-WINGED WARBLER, 1 ORCHARD ORIOLE, and lots more. The Oct. 1 flight brought a PHILADELPHIA VIREO, and a CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER among other things.
The first major cold front of the fall passed this week, a three-day front bringing many firsts. Thirty-six GREAT BLUE HERONS migrated over the morning of the 28th. Between 7 and 11 AM on the 28th, over 1000 BLUEJAYS migrated over. Also on the 29th, waterfowl came in in a big way, with 800 ducks counted, including PINTAIL, WIGEON, BLACK DUCKS, and MALLARDS. A RUDDY DUCK was on Lily Lake on Sept. 29th, and a BONAPARTE'S GULL flew by the point on the 26th. The first big push of CANADA GEESE passed by on Sept. 30. Also on the 30th, over 1000 FLICKERS passed, and we enjoyed the first big influx of late-season migrants, including WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS, SWAMP SPARROWS, PIPITS, MEADOWLARKS, SAPSUCKERS, MYRTLE WARBLERS, KINGLETS, BROWN CREEPERS, and PHOEBES. Oct. 1 brought a terrific flight of TREE SWALLOWS, with over 3000 birds.
Cape May's first big BROAD-WINGED HAWK flight since 1989 happened on Sept. 30, with 1435 counted. The 29th also brought one of the largest AM. KESTREL flights in recent year, with 2449 counted. The 29th-30th were also major days for COOPER'S HAWKS, with 75 and 92 seen respectively. 16 PEREGRINES and 197 MERLINS were seen on the 29th, and 8 BALD EAGLES passed on the 30th. 92 OSPREY passed on the 29th, and 82 on the 26th. The total hawk count for the month of September was 13135, including 33 BALD EAGLES, 147 PEREGRINES, 621 MERLINS, 4643 AM. KESTREL, 7 BLACK VULTURE, 992 OSPREY, 3913 SHARP-SHINS, and 451 COOPER'S HAWKS. A SWAINSON'S HAWK was reported seen over Higbee's Beach headed north on the 29th; it was not seen by the hawk watch.
Three GREAT CORMORANTS were regular at the Bunker early in the week. LEAST BITTERNS are calling regularly at Bunker Pond next to the hawk watch platform. Two AM. BITTERN were also seen there on Sept. 29th. 38 AM> WIGEON are using the State Park ponds.
Brigantine NWR on Sept. 28 held 1 AM. GOLDEN PLOVER, 1 BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER, 20 WESTERN SANDPIPER, 1 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, 4 STILT SANDPIPER, 12 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, 12 SHOVELER, A PIED-BILLED GREBE, AM. WIGEONS, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, WOOD DUCKS, WHIMBREL, and one BLACK TERN.
BROWN PELICANS have been seen this week at the hawk watch platform at the state park and from the Cape May beachfront. Sept. 28 a major push of Bottle-nosed Dolphins passed, including about 20 groups of 4 to 6 animals. The whale-watching boat "Holiday" reports 4 Humpbacked Whales in the mouth of Hereford Inlet on Sept. 30. (898-0055 for more info).
Seaside Goldenrod is in full bloom and awaiting migrant Monarch Butterflies. Monarch numbers are very low this fall, since 75% of the population died on the wintering grounds during severe freezes in Mexico. Persimmon fruits are ripening; Virginia Creeper and Poison Ivy are turning yellow and red. Tree Swallows are swarming over ripening Bayberry bushes on the dunes.
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Cape May Bird Observatory is a research and conservation unit of the New Jersey Audubon Society. For more information regarding Cape May birding, our programs and field trips, phone our office at 609-884-2736 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 [(609) 884-2626] 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. [Compiled by CMBO staff; transcribed by L. Larson (firstname.lastname@example.org).] Please report sightings of rare or unusual birds to CMBO at (609) 884-2736. Thank you for calling; good birding.