Cape May Rare Bird Alert - 11/24/1994
You have reached the Cape May Birding Hotline, a service of the New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. Highlights of the week ending Nov. 24, 1994 include sightings of: PAINTED BUNTING, COMMON BLACK-HEADED GULL, WOOD STORK, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, CAVE SWALLOW, WESTERN KINGBIRD, general migration notes, announcements, etc.

An immature male PAINTED BUNTING was found at Higbee Beach Nov. 20 in the pond field. It was found again on Nov. 22 in the dense thickets to the right of the pond, but has not been seen since. A first-winter BLACK-HEADED GULL was found on Lily Lake, also on Nov. 20; the bird was also seen in the field at New England and Bayshore Rd. the following morning in the company of Ring-billed Gulls.

The WOOD STORK first seen on Nov. 11 returned for a two-day stay in the State Park on Nov. 18-19. It was so close to observers at Lighthouse Pond East that petting it would have been possible. It has not been seen since the 19th, however.

Two CAVE SWALLOWS were last seen Nov. 19 at dusk over Cape May Point. Two WESTERN KINGBIRDS took up residence in the dunes at the end of Alexander Ave. at Cape May Point between Nov. 20 and Nov. 22. There have been no sightings the last two days.

Three days of strong west winds have made land birding a difficult propoisition at the Point. However, a few tardy migrants have been found. Observers looking for the Painted Bunting at Higbee found a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW and a BLACK AND WHITE WARBLER on Nov. 20, and a SOLITARY VIREO Nov. 23. Also Nov. 23, a bit more seasonal, was an AMERICAN TREE SPARROW. On Nov. 22, the Beanery held an extremely late WORM-EATING WARBLER, and Cape May County's latest ever AMERICAN REDSTART.

The evening of Sat. Nov. 19 was perfect for Owl migration - a gentle north wind and clear sky. Looking into the setting sun from the Cape May Meadows center path, 3 large owls were seen over the tree line - either Barn, Longeared, or Short-eared. In addition, a Saw-whet Owl was heard as it gave its thrush-like call. That night was also the last night of this year's owl-banding project; four Saw-whet Owls were banded, all returns (caught and banded the previous week, and still in the area). Pre-dawn the morning of Nov. 20, a hunting Barn Owl was found near the parking lot of the Meadows.

Other owl news includes the arrival of SHORT-EARED OWLS at good winter sites like the Dennis Creek Marsh, and the end of Jake's Landing Road. First seen Nov. 13-14, four birds were active and calling. Two were seen Nov. 20 at about 5:30 PM at Jake's Landing. Not one but 2 active Barn Owl nests have been discovered in Cape May County; at dusk and on through the night young can be heard begging. Atlasers take note.

CMBO's full time sea watch is being conducted from Seventh Ave. at the north end of Avalon. Over one-half-million birds have been logged, over last year's total, with a month to go. The last major flight was on Nov. 21, when 7300 seabirds passed. The flight included one BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE and over 3000 RED-THROATED LOONS. JAEGERS remain steady; 4 were seen Nov. 22 (3 Parasitic, one unidentified), and 4 Parasitic Jaegers were seen Nov. 20. A few flocks of migrant Tundra Swans have been seen. Join us and bring a scope if you have one.

Christmas bird counts are less than a month away. Contact local compilers if you are interested; phone numbers follow. Oceanville: Sat. Nov. 17; Marmora, Sun. Nov. 18, both organized by Ed Bristow (609) 641-4671. Cape May, Sun. Nov. 18, organized by Louise Zemaitis and Vince Elia; call Louise at CMBO, (609) 884-2736. Belleplain, Mon., Dec. 26, Paul Kosten, (609) 861-5827. Cumberland, Sun. Jan. 1, Clay Sutton, (609) 465-3397.

Announcements: A "mini-pelagic" trip has been scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 3, 8 AM to Noon. The Cape May Whale Watcher boat in Cape May will be used; cost is $25. The boat will explore nearshore waters including Five-fathom Bank, MacRae's Shoal, and the mouth of the Delaware Bay. For more info or reservations, call Jersey Cape Nature Excursions, (609) 898 9631.

Local nature notes: ALERT: Deer ticks have been found south of the canal. Absent until now, an increase in deer has brought them along. Birders should be cautious in areas such as Higbee Beach for this Lyme Disease vector.

Only at Cape May can New Jerseyans continue to enjoy butterflies and dragonflies this late in the season. The cape is buffered by warm bay waters. A few GREEN DARNERS were seen this week, and at least 3 different Monarchs were also seen migrating towards the mountains of Mexico. Common Buckeyes might still be found too; they are migrating to Georgia. Leaves have fallen, and it's a good time to start looking and listening for Great Horned Owls on territory.

[Program notes omitted -LL]

Fine print: 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 [(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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