You have reached the Cape May birding hotline. Highlights of the week ending Nov. 19 include: VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW, CAVE SWALLOWS, HENSLOW'S, VESPER, GRASSHOPPER, and LINCOLN'S SPARROWS, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, "BALTIMORE" ORIOLE, HUDSONIAN GODWIT, HARLEQUIN DUCK, COMMON EIDER, PARASITIC JAEGER, news of an enormous LOON flight, BROWN PELICAN, BARN OWL and BARRED OWLS, BLACK VULTURE, BALD EAGLE, GOSHAWK, a pelagic trip announcement, local nature notes and news of upcoming programs.
The VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW and the four CAVE SWALLOWS, which first appeared on Nov. 7, were last seen earlier this week. The VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW put in its last appearance on Nov. 13 at 2:45 pm; and the last CAVE SWALLOW sighting was of a lone bird in with a flock of about 100 TREE SWALLOWS, on the afternoons of both Nov. 14 and 15. This is only the second record for CAVE SWALLOW (the last was a lone bird in April and May of 1991), and it is a first state record, first county record, and first East Coast record for VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW.
Land birding has been quite good and varied this week, with a number of one-day-only sightings of interesting birds. A SOLITARY VIREO lingered at Higbee's Beach on Nov. 14. A HENSLOW'S SPARROW was at Higbee's Beach Nov. 15. Hidden Valley held a GRASSHOPPER SPARROW, 3 VESPER SPARROWS, and an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER on Nov. 15. A LINCOLN'S SPARROW and 3 SNOW BUNTINGS were seen in the Cape May Meadows on Nov. 17. Four "BALTIMORE" ORIOLES and a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER were seen at Cape May Point on Nov. 18.
A HUDSONIAN GODWIT was seen along Ocean Drive just north of Cape May on Nov. 15. The Coast Guard jetty, visible from the north end of Cape May's beachfront at Poverty Beach, held a male and a female HARLEQUIN DUCK and a female COMMON EIDER on Nov. 15. And a COMMON EIDER was seen at the Second Ave. jetty in Cape May Nov. 16.
Reports from the seabird watch at the north end of Avalon (where the land juts out farthest into the ocean) include the LOON flight of the fall, on Nov. 16, when in just under 2 hours over 5600 loons passed by. The entire week has been good for loons, with about 200-300 passing south each hour. Also from the north end of Avalon, a PARASITIC JAEGER was seen on Nov. 16; a RED-NECKED GREBE, hundreds of LAUGHING GULLS, and two COMMON EIDERS headed south on Nov. 17; and Nov. 19 was the first day that WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS were common in with the flocks heading south. About 100 BONAPARTE'S GULLS are passing south daily now. Three BROWN PELICANS were seen Nov. 13 at the north end of Avalon heading south.
The Cape May Point owl-banding project ended the evening of Nov. 16; this fall, it began Oct. 25. In these 2 weeks, one BARN OWL, one LONG-EARED OWL, and 24 SAW-WHET OWLS were banded. These numbers are low compared to previous years. Other owl notes for the past week include the sighting of a BARRED OWL being chased by gulls and crows the morning of Nov. 18, right in the middle of Cape May city near the post office. BARRED OWLS do not migrate and they do not nest in Cape May city; so this was probably a young of the year that was exploring and looking for its own wet woods, having been driven off by its parents. The night of Nov. 18 a BARN OWL screeched over Cape May Point about 12:30 at night giving its characteristic hiss.
The hawkwatch has been manned dutifully by Jorge Montejo Diaz, our official hawkwatcher, despite quite quiet conditions for this year's migration. Jorge will continue until the end of November. This week he reports: a BLACK VULTURE on Nov. 15; a late OSPREY on Nov. 15; more BALD EAGLES, two on the 14th, two on the 15th, and one on the 18th; 3 GOSHAWKS, with 2 on the 15th and one on the 16th; RED-SHOULDERS and RED-TAILS daily; a GOLDEN EAGLE on the 13th; and 5 MERLINS during the week.
The highlight of CMBO's last "Nightwatch" walk of the season on Nov. 14 was a flock of 20 or more TUNDRA SWANS migrating after dark; they were quite low, calling, and heading south over the bay.
On Saturday, Dec. 5, an inshore pelagic trip will travel to Five Fathom Bank, 12 miles off Cape May. It will be run by Capt. Ron Robbins on his boat "Holiday". The trip runs from 8 AM to 1 PM, and your place can be secured by contributing $25 per person to CMBO with a note that it is for this trip. Be at the dock no later than 7:45 AM. Space is limited; the boat is a little over half-full. Send a check to CMBO to hold your place. For more details call CMBO at 884-2736. Since last week's renovations, we are now put back together again; you should be able to reach someone in this office Tuesday through Sunday.
Local nature notes follow. A large dragonfly, probably a Green Darner, was seen migrating south past the north end of Avalon on Nov. 13, in 39-degree weather. The trees are now bare, exposing stick nests in the woods; begin hunting for nests that the Great Horned Owls will be using starting next month. They're already calling to each other, probably somewhere near the nests that they will use.
[Program announcements omitted. -LL]
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.