Cape May Rare Bird Alert - 11/25/1993
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. 25, 1993 include RED-NECKED GREBE, AM. WHITE PELICAN, COMMON EIDERS, KING EIDERS, HARLEQUIN DUCK, PARASITIC JAEGER, LITTLE GULLS, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS, COMMON MURRE, RAZORBILL, SNOWY OWL, ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, CAVE SWALLOW, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, a probable "non-Brown-Headed" Cowbird, COMMON REDPOLL, seabird flights, and Christmas Count announcements.

This is an update to yesterday's hotline, due to the discovery of a COMMON MURRE late in the afternoon of Thanksgiving, Nov. 25. The bird was off one of the jetties in Cape May, to the north and east of Second Ave. Jetty. Also there was an imm. male KING EIDER. Also, two AM. WHITE PELICANS were seen off and on all day on Nov. 25, flying around Cape May Point and the South Cape May Meadows. They were even observed on Bunker Pond at the State Park. These are presumably the same two birds seen flying south past Brigantine NWR on Nov. 24.

The past week has been light for bird numbers on the Cape, but very strong on rarities. The imm. female BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK reported at the Beanery last week was rediscovered briefly at Hidden Valley on Nov. 22. Despite intensive searching later that day and again Nov. 23, it could not be relocated, though it could still be around. It was last seen along the south side of the first field reached from the Hidden Valley parking lot on New England Rd.

Also discovered Nov. 22 but not seen since was an ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER. It was found in the hedge along the Tower Field at Higbee Beach in the late morning and was watched until it disappeared in the afternoon in the woods southwest of the main parking lot.

The third state and county record for CAVE SWALLOW was discovered at the hawk watch at Cape May Point State Park Nov. 20. It was one of only three swallows seen from the platform that day. It was first seen around noon and watched at a distance until it disappeared to the northeast. It made two fairly close passes and was photographed. This is the second straight year that CAVE SWALLOW has been seen in November on the Point.

The large numbers of finches reported in previous weeks were not evident this week, but COMMON REDPOLLS can still be found in small numbers south of the Canal. Nine were reported near the Lighthouse Nov. 20. Single flyovers were heard calling at Hidden Valley on Nov. 21 and at Higbee Nov. 23. EVENING GROSBEAKS were also in evidence this week but just barely; small flocks were heard but not seen at the hawk watch, Higbee, and Hidden Valley. Observers should be listening carefully for the calls of these and other finches. PINE GROSBEAK has been reported from north Jersey twice this fall, the most recent report being from Sunrise Mountain, so be on the alert.

A SNOWY OWL was seen in Ocean City Nov. 24, perched on top of a two-story house for 8 hours. It was reported from Atlantic Blvd. near the Longport toll bridge. The reporter described what was probably an immature bird. Often the first Snowy of the year does not stay put for very long, so get out there. If you see it or any other Snowy please let us know ASAP.

The sea watch at Avalon continues to rack up big numbers. The count, located at the end of Seventh Street, is now getting consistent all-day flights of RED-THROATED LOONS and N. GANNETS. This weeks counts of Red-throats included 2671 on Nov. 18, 1941 Nov. 19, and 3530 Nov. 23. High counts of N. GANNET this week included 2608 Nov. 18, 997 Nov. 19, 1234 Nov. 20, and 878 Nov. 23. Other sea watch highlights include: single RED-NECKED GREBE Nov. 18 and 22, 3 COM. EIDERS Nov. 18; 2 KING EIDERS Nov. 22; 5655 Scoters, an adult drake HARLEQUIN DUCK, PARASITIC JAEGER, imm. LITTLE GULL, and a RAZORBILL, all Nov. 19; single LITTLE GULLS daily Nov. 21 to 23; 4047 RING-BILLED GULLS Nov. 21; and another RAZORBILL Nov. 22. The season's tally as of Nov. 23 is 452,938 seabirds; this includes nearly 40,000 RED-THROATED LOONS, 20000 N. GANNETS, 191000 SCOTERS, & 151000 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS.

The drake EURASIAN WIGEON was not reported this week, but careful searching among the Am. Wigeon on Bunker Pond or on Ocean Drive may turn it up. An adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL continues on the beach between Higbee Beach and Sunset Beach. Another was seen among 1200+ gulls on the shell piles on Ocean Drive Nov. 24. A Green-backed Heron and a Least Bittern were both seen recently at Bunker Pond, and Am. Bittern has been seen nearly daily there.

Passerines of note this week include: a HORNED LARK & 2 SNOW BUNTINGS at S. Cape May Meadows Nov. 19; WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES at Higbee Nov. 23 and Lily Lake Nov. 24; a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER and an AM. TREE SPARROW at Higbee Nov. 23; ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS off and on at Higbee and at Hidden Valley; Pine Warblers at Hidden Valley and Higbee Nov. 23; a Com. Yellowthroat at the Beanery Nov. 19; a LINCOLN'S SPARROW at Higbee Nov. 23; an odd female Cowbird, probably not a Brown-headed, at the circle in Cape May Point Nov. 23; and N. Orioles widespread, between five and eight being seen by one observer Nov. 21, and others at various sites as well.

FOX SPARROWS are being seen, and sometimes heard singing, at most of the regularly-birded sites.

The owl migration has wound down, but don't forget that some of these owls may go no further than Cape May. The last cold front was virtually "owl-less" for the owl banding project. Two lingering Saw-whet owls caught on Nov. 20 had been banded there on Nov. 16. One owl watcher stationed on the center path at the Meadows Nov. 18 saw a large owl at dusk which got up out of the trees and flew toward the point. A nothern Saw-whet also was heard that night, giving the call many of us just learned this fall, a thrush-like "phew". If you do put some time in there, you may also see bats, Am. Woodcock, Com. Snipe, and flocks of waterfowl moving from the State Park to ponds in the meadows. Also listen for Virginia Rails calling.

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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