Cape May Rare Bird Alert - 12/12/1996
You have reached the Cape May Birding Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. Highlights for the week ending December 12 include sightings of BELL'S VIREO, WESTERN KINGBIRD, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, ICELAND GULL, news of CMBO's Avalon Seawatch, local nature notes, an announcement about an upcoming Mini-pelagic Trip, news of CMBO's upcoming programs and field trips, local Christmas Bird Count dates and contacts.

The BELL'S VIREO, discovered at Hidden Valley on December 4th, was seen as recently as December 11th. It was last seen on the east edge of the first field toward the back corner.

A WESTERN KINGBIRD was seen December 12th in West Cape May in the vicinity of 4Th and Oak Aves. Also in West Cape May, a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW continues to be seen near 2nd and West Aves. It is in the company of 35 Chipping Sparrows and a JUNCO believed to be of the "pink-sided" form, or possibly an intergrade.

Two ICELAND GULLS were present at the fish docks along Ocean Dr. near the toll bridge on December 7th. Another was in the South Cape May Meadows (SCMM) on the same day.

Two EURASIAN WIGEON were in Lily Lake as recently as December 8th, along with a REDHEAD and a CANVASBACK.

A LITTLE GULL was seen feeding with four Forster's Terns and a number of Bonaparte's Gulls off the Cape May Point State Park on December 12th.

Two immature COMMON EIDERS continue to be seen around the Cape May Point jetties , between Saint Mary's and the Gingerbread Church.

Other highlights this week included two American Tree Sparrows at SCMM on December 8th and one at Higbee Beach on the 12th, a very late Osprey over Cap May Point on the 9th, five Red Knots on the beach at SCMM on the 11th, and an Orange-crowned Warbler at the parking lot at SCMM on the 12th.

The Avalon Seawatch, being conducted at 7th Street and the Beach at the North end of Avalon, reached its ONE MILLIONTH seabird of the season today, December 12th, at 10:14 A M, as a male Surf Scoter migrated by!!! Congratulations go to this year's Seawatch Crew for their dedication and hard work: Bill Seng, our official Seawatcher, Mike Lanzone, our Seawatch Education Intern, and Fred Mears and Dave Ward. Other highlights of the past week include 6 Common Eiders and over 1,000 Red-throated Loons on December 5, 7 Common Eiders and a Black-legged Kittiwake on the 6th, 450 Oldsquaw and 130 White-winged Scoter on the 9th, several hundred each of Oldsquaw, Red-throated Loons, and Bonaparte's Gulls on the 10th, and a Red-necked Grebe on the 11th.

Some totals from the December 7th pelagic trip out of Brielle included 101 Northern Fulmars, two Puffin, seven Dovekies, 13 Razorbills, and a Pomarine Jaeger.

A half-day Mini Pelagic trip is scheduled out of Cape May aboard the Cape May Whale Watcher on December 14th. Trip leaves at 8 a.m., cost is $35. Call 1-800-786-5445 for more details and to register.

Local Nature Notes follow: Unseasonably warm weather this week produced several active butterflies. A Red Admiral flew in from sea at the Avalon Seawatch on December 8th and landed on the rocks of the seawall. On December 12th a Red Admiral was seen in Cape May Point along with another butterfly that dashed by that may have been a Monarch.

Oldsquaw can be readily found now in the surf along the oceanfront. Often they are in pairs, but you're also likely to find larger groupings of birds. Lovely looks can be had right from the Avalon Seawatch. Bonaparte Gulls are quite easy to study now too as they feed around the jetties in Cape May Point. They're very dainty and so seem more tern-like than gull-like. Fox Sparrows are in. Adult Bald Eagles are paired up and on territory; they might be found near their nests, like the pair that's been seen sitting side by side on the back edge of East Creek Lake each early morning.

This year's Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey is scheduled for Janaury 11 and 12. Please share your bald eagle sightings with us here at CMBO so that we can be sure to have observers at all known eagle hotspots for th e survey! American Holly trees are heavy with berries. Sumac fruit clusters stand out now as most of the leaves have fallen. With the leaves fallen it's time to search for large stick nests that Great Horned Owls might use for their nests in a little over one month, they being our earliest nesting bird - one eggs by January.

Some of CMBO's upcoming programs follow: Every Saturday (through December) Tom Parsons will lead a "Birding Cape May Point" walk at 7:30 a.m., meeting in the raised picnic pavilion at Cape May Point State Park. The Cape May Bird Observatory's winter program schedule is now in print and being sent to members. Non-members should give us a call if they'd like to receive a copy. Weekly "Owl & Hawk Watches at Jakes Landing" will be held every Friday January 3 through March 14th at 4:00 p.m. Weekly "Winter Bird Walks" will be held every Sunday January through March at 8:30 a.m., meeting in the raised picnic pavilion at the Cape May Point State Park. A Weeklong Birding Workshop for Hawks, Owls, and Winter Waterfowl will be led and taught January 6-10th by Pat and Clay Sutton and Pete Dunne. There's still room; call for the weeklong workshop flyer and registration form. A special Members' Night will be held January 15th at the NEW CMBO in Goshen, with "a Birthday Party for New Jersey Audubon Society in its 100th Year!" scheduled for 7:30-9 p.m. Six "Owl Workshops" are scheduled: January 18, 25, February 1, 5, and 15. The "Bird Watching For Beginners Course" will be taught January 25-26, February 22-23, and March 29-30. A "Winter Raptors of Bear Swamp and the Delaware Bayshore" is scheduled for February 8, AND MUCH MORE!

The three local Christmas Bird Counts will all be held on Sunday this year; dates and contacts follow: Cape May CBC on December 22, call Vince Elia or Louise Zemaitis at 609-8 84-2736; Belleplain CBC on December 29, call Paul Kosten at 609-861-5827; Cumberland CBC on January 5, call Clay Sutton at 609-465-3397.

The 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, and the Observatory, call our office at 609-884-2736 or send a request for information to CMBO, P.O. Box 3, Cape May Point, NJ 08212. If you are in the area do not hesitate to visit our headquarters and growing birding bookstore at 707 E. Lake Dr., Cape May Point. We're open DAILY, 9-5.

The Cape May Birding Hotline is a service of New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory and details sightings from Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties and near shore waters. Updates are made on Thursday evenings, more often if warranted. Please report sightings of rare or unusual birds to CMBO at 609-884-2736. Thanks for calling and GOOD BIRDING!

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