Cape May Rare Bird Alert - 11/18/1993
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 Nov. 18, 1993 include EURASIAN WIGEON, COMMON EIDER, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, MARBLED GODWIT, PARASITIC JAEGER, LITTLE GULL, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, SEDGE WREN, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, DICKCISSEL, LECONTE'S SPARROW, COMMON REDPOLL, raptor and seabird flights, Christmas bird count dates.

The highlight of the week was found this morning, Nov. 18: an immature male BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK was discovered among a large mixed-species flock of sparrows along the last field at the Beanery. To get to the spot one needs to walk almost as far as possible at the Beanery; stop at CMBO for directions.

The second-best bird of the week, a LECONTE'S SPARROW was discovered at the tower field at Higbee on the morning of Nov. 16. It was seen again that afternoon but not since.

The excellent finch flight continues. On Nov. 13, a fem. or imm. COMMON REDPOLL was found in the tower field at Higbee Beach with a flock of Am. Goldfinches. This is the same place where the first Redpoll of the season was found Nov. 8. On Nov. 15, 5 Redpolls were found at the first corner of the first field at Higbee, also with finches.

The raptor count crossed the 30.000 mark for the first time in 5 years on Nov. 14. Other highlights of this week's raptor flight include: 2 BLACK VULTURES Nov. 18, bringing the season total to 56, tying last year's record; an imm. light-morph ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK Nov. 15; and continuing good numbers of N. GOSHAWK, with a count of 4 Nov. 18 bringing the season total to 70.

The seawatch continues to rack up big numbers at Avalon. Recently there have been consistent all-day flights of RED-THROATED LOONS and N. GANNETS. Over 3200 Red-throats and 900 Gannets were counted on Nov. 17. PARASITIC JAEGERS are still being seen, with 2 Nov. 14 and 1 Nov. 17. The season's first LITTLE GULL, a first-winter bird, was seen on Nov. 12. A female-type COMMON EIDER flew by the seawatch on Nov. 14.

A drake EURASIAN WIGEON continues sporadically on Bunker Pond in Cape May Point state park. A COMMON EIDER was near the Concrete Ship Nov. 17. An adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL is reliable on the beach between Higbee Beach and Sunset Beach. Another, a third-winter bird, was seen at the shell pile on Ocean Drive Nov. 13. A MARBLED GODWIT continued until at least Nov. 14 at Brigantine, and 2 WHIMBRELS were late at the Wetlands Institute Nov. 14. A whopping 16000 DUNLIN were seen at Hereford Inlet Nov. 17. A SHORT-EARED OWL was at S. Cape May Meadows Nov. 11.

Passerines of note this week included: A WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH at Higbee Nov. 13; 2 SEDGE WRENS at Goshen Landing Rd. Nov. 16; one or two BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS at Cape May Point most of the week; two ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS at Higbee on Nov. 15; two PINE WARBLERS Nov. 13 and another Nov. 17 at Cape May Point; a DICKCISSEL at Higbee Nov. 17; VESPER SPARROWS nearly daily at Hidden Valley and 2 at S. Cape May Meadows Nov. 14; a LINCOLN'S SPARROW in Cape May Point Nov. 13; 8 SNOW BUNTINGS on the beach at Cape May Nov. 7; and N. ORIOLES seemingly everywhere. Two were at Higbee for much of the week, and singles were seen from the hawkwatch, and in Cape May Point. Also, the large flock of birds containing the BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK Nov. 18 had at least 8 FOX SPARROWS in it.

The owl migration continues, but the last big push was the night of Nov. 11, when 14 N. SAW-WHET OWLS were caught and banded and released at the Point. During the five nights ending on the 11th, 115 SAW-WHETS, 4 LONG-EARS, and 3 BARN OWLS were banded. Nov. 12 brought a weather change to warmer temperatures and cloud cover, but still there were some migrant owls each night. It's not too late for another owl push given cold clear nights with light winds.

Some very exciting band recoveries on owls occurred this past week. A Barn Owl caught here on Nov. 10 was already wearing a FWS band. From Len Soucy we learned that he had banded it as an injured bird, brought to him this past summer for rehabilitation. Under his care it recovered and was released Aug. 22 in Somerset County. Over the years, a few of the N. SAW-WHET OWLS banded here in the fall were found wintering in South Jersey; but one was never recovered to the south of us. This fall, 2 SAW-WHETS, banded here Nov. 7, were recaptured alive at a banding station on Assateague Island, MD, on Nov. 12 and 13.

Christmas Count dates for this year: Oceanville (Brigantine), Dec. 18, contact Ed Bristow at (609) 641-4671. Belleplain, Dec. 19, contact Paul Kosten (609) 861-5827. Cape May, Dec. 26, contact Keith Seager, (609) 884-8778. Cumberland County, Jan. 1, contact Clay Sutton, (609) 465-3397; Marmora, Jan. 2, contact Ed Bristow as above.

[local nature notes omitted -ll]

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.

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