Cape May Rare Bird Alert - 10/19/1995
You have reached the Cape May Birding Hotline, a service of the New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. Highlights for the week ending Oct. 19, 1995 include SMITH'S LONGSPUR, SELASPHORUS hummingbirds, FRANKLIN'S GULL, RED-NECKED GREBE, huge passerine flight, other migration news, etc.

A SMITH'S LONGSPUR was found at Island Beach State Park on Oct. 18 in the parking lot near the Headquarters building on Oct. 18; it was seen again today, Oct. 19.

Two HUMMINGBIRDS of the genus SELASPHORUS were seen this week; one was at a private residence off Shunpike Rd., on Oct. 14-15; the other spent a minute or so in a garden in The Villas on Oct. 16. Both were immature males, probably RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRDS. We have no more recent reports of either bird.

A FRANKLIN'S GULL was a fly-by at the Avalon Seawatch on Oct. 16. And a RED-NECKED GREBE flew by there on Oct. 19.

One of the biggest land-bird flights in the past ten years occurred this past week, the morning of Oct. 18, when an estimated 75,000 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS flew past observers along Sunset Blvd. It was estimated that between 100k and 150k YELLOW-RUMPS settled in to Cape Island, that is the small area of land south of the Cape May Canal.

Other highlights this week included: WESTERN KINGBIRD at Higbee Beach on Oct. 13; two flyby LAPLAND LONGSPURS over the Hawkwatch on Oct. 17; an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER at Higbee Beach on Oct. 19; and a VESPER SPARROW at Hidden Valley also on Oct. 19.

A sprinkling of other warblers were among the hordes of Yellow-rumps. PALM WARBLERS have been numerous this week, and we also saw NASHVILLE WARBLER, NORTHERN PARULA, CAPE MAY WARBLER, MAGNOLIA WARBLER, BLACKPOLL WARBLER, BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER, & BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLERS, mainly at Higbee Beach and at Hidden Valley. Good numbers of WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS & SAVANNAH SPARROWS have been around this week; ten White-crowned and 25 Savannah were at Hidden Valley on Oct. 19.

The gentle northwest winds the evening of Oct. 16 must have brought some owls. A SAW-WHET owl was heard in Cape May Point that night, and a BARN OWL was seen hunting the night of Oct. 17 over the marshes behind REED'S BEACH.

We are in the second month of the CMBO Hawkwatch, staffed this year by Andre Robinson; Jerry Ligouri and Paul Koenig are our education interns. It's been an excellent year for PEREGRINE FALCONS, with the count approaching 900; 818 was the previous record set in 1990. PEREGRINES have slowed down, but a few are still coming through. The season's first GOLDEN EAGLES came through on Oct. 15-16. Other highlights of the past week include NORTHERN GOSHAWK Oct. 15; 283 OSPREY, 3 BALD EAGLES, 1000+ AMERICAN KESTREL, 117 MERLINS, & 78 NORTHERN HARRIERS on Oct. 16.

The CMBO Seawatch at the north end of Avalon is staffed by Dave Ward, Clay Sutton, Mike O'Brien, Fred Mears. It began Sept. 22, and already there is good movement and variety. The third week of Oct. is peak time for Cormorant and Sea Ducks. Indeed, many thousands of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS and SCOTERS are passing the Seawatch. LOONS & GANNETS are coming by in good numbers too but will peak in November.

Local nature notes follow.

Those thousands of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS we mentioned have been gorging on Poison Ivy berries and also hawking insects. The terrific numbers of southern butterflies that made butterfly watching so much fun at Cape May this fall, must have occurred here for some reason; that same reason may have also been responsible for the BLACK WITCH that was discovered Oct. 11 in a garden in Cape May Point. BLACK WITCH is a huge, dark, tropical moth from South America, found with some regularity in Florida and Texas. They are known to stray north, as indeed this one did. Southern butterflies such as LONG-TAILED SKIPPER, CLOUDED SKIPPER, FIERY SKIPPER, OCOLA SKIPPER, SACHEM and CLOUDLESS SULPHUR are still being seen in gardens in Cape May Point. Marigold, Zinnias, and a few Butterfly Bush blossoms remaining, are pulling them in.

One of the MONARCHS tagged by Dick Walton and Louise Zemaitis at Cape May Point on Sept. 4 was recovered in Forest Hills, GA on Sept. 28; actually only the wing with tag was found. The butterfly was probably eaten by a Preying Mantis and its wings fell to the ground.

[program information deleted--LL]

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 office at 609-884-2736 or a send a request for info to CMBO, P.O. Box 3, Cape May Point, NJ 08212. If you are in the area, do not hesitate to visit our headquarters and growing birding bookstore at 707 E. Lake Dr., Cape May Point. We're open 9-5 every day but Monday.

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 (llarson@pucc.princeton.edu).] Please report sightings of rare or unusual birds to CMBO at (609) 884-2736. Thank you for calling; good birding.

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