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 Dec. 10 include: ROCK WREN, BLACK-HEADED GULL, ICELAND GULL, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, RAZORBILL, KITTIWAKE, whales, COMMON EIDER, SNOWY OWL, GOSHAWK, BALD EAGLE, EURASIAN WIGEON, LEAST BITTERN, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, BULLOCK'S ORIOLE, and news of upcoming Christmas Counts, programs, and field trips.
The ROCK WREN continues to be seen, and was last reported to this office on Dec. 9. Perhaps it will remain through the winter, or at least until the Cape May Christmas Bird Count on Dec. 20. The Rock Wren was first discovered on Dec. 2 at Cape May Point, at the jetty near the end of Cape Ave. But since then it has favored a construction site on Lincoln Ave., in Cape May Point, where two new homes are being built, directly across from 405 Lincoln Ave. The Wren does not seem to mind the hammering and radio playing at the site; it may be seen scooting around right under it all, or in the piles of scrap wood, or on the dune to the left of the construction site. The Rock Wren is one of only a few East Coast records; it is the first New Jersey record and (obviously) the first Cape May County record.
We have learned that some birders have gone on to private property and into the dunes after the bird. There is a stiff fine for entering the dunes, and birders do not need a bad rep in Cape May Point. We are asking birders to police themselves. Ask fellow birders not to give us a bad name. Thanks.
An adult BLACK-HEADED GULL was discovered Dec. 5 in with 100 or so BONAPARTE'S GULLS resting on Lily Lake during the gale winds. On Dec. 8-9, the bird was seen on the beach in Cape May Point between Alexander Ave. and the Concrete Ship. A first-winter ICELAND GULL was seen Dec. 10 on the jetty at the end of Cape Ave. in Cape May Point. A LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was seen on the same jetty on Dec. 4, and an adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was in the Cape May Meadows on Dec. 10.
A RAZORBILL was seen off 8th St. in Stone Harbor on Dec. 5, in with over 1000 N. GANNET, a KITTIWAKE, and numbers of Bonaparte's Gulls. Two unidentified large alcids flew out of the Delaware Bay past the Concrete Ship on Dec. 5. Two KITTIWAKES came on shore at Avalon on Dec. 7. If you're looking seaward, keep an eye out for whales. On Dec. 6 both a Fin whale and a Humpback whale were seen off Avalon, both close enough to allow positive identification. An adult male COMMON EIDER continues to be seen near the Bunker in Cape May Point State Park.
SNOWY OWLS are being found to the north and to the south of us, with a report of one near Smyrna, Delaware, last week, and one seen today, Dec. 10, in Cliffwood Beach, on the Raritan Bay near Sandy Hook in "northern" New Jersey.
Brisk northwest winds this week triggered some good December hawk flights. On Dec. 8 at 10:30 AM, a late Osprey was seen over the Garden State Parkway near Avalon. Also Dec. 8, 30 Redtails and two adult GOSHAWKS were seen at Cape May Point. On Dec. 9, 48 Turkey Vultures, an immature GOSHAWK, 30 Red-tailed Hawks, and 6 Red-shoulders were seen. Six BALD EAGLES were seen over Lake Lenape on Dec. 5; two were adults, 3 were immatures, and the last was a second or third-year bird. An adult BALD EAGLE was seen over Bayshore Rd. Dec. 6.
Brigantine NWR on Dec. 7 was good with a EURASIAN WIGEON, 700 TUNDRA SWANS, a blue-morph ROSS' GOOSE, 250+ TREE SWALLOWS, and 50 SNOW BUNTINGS. HOODED MERGANSERS have been present this week at Lily lake and elsewhere. Reed's Beach has attracted a big concentration of waterfowl; on Dec. 10, 1200 ducks were present offshore, including mostly Scaup, with some Scoters and Black Ducks. A late LEAST BITTERN was heard calling from the hawk watch on Dec. 8.
On Dec. 6, 6 species of warblers were found in and around Cape May Point. YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, 2 PALM WARBLERS, 1 ORANGE-CROWNED, 1 PINE WARBLER and 1 BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER, along with a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER and two RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES. A "BULLOCK'S" ORIOLE was at a feeder in Goshen on Dec. 5, unfortunately for one day only. Several dozen PURPLE SANDPIPERS can be seen at Cape May's Second Ave. jetty. Numbers of Oldsquaw can be enjoyed in the Cape May Harbor and in the waters around Stone Harbor Point.
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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.