You have reached the Cape May birding hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. Highlights of the two weeks ending Dec. 31 include: ROCK WREN, SNOWY OWL, news of both the Cape May and Belleplain Christmas Bird Counts, COMMON EIDERS, KING EIDERS, HARLEQUIN DUCKS, ICELAND GULL, BLACK-HEADED GULL, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, PHOEBE, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, NASHVILLE WARBLER, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, AM. BITTERN, BARN OWL, LONG-EARED, SAW-WHET, and BARRED OWLS, BALD EAGLE, BLACK VULTURE, WESTERN SANDPIPER, WINTER WREN, and news of upcoming programs.
The elusive ROCK WREN continues to be seen. It was last reported today, Dec. 31. Actually it was seen quite regularly before Dec. 20's count, though not on the day of; and it has been seen since, usually at the construction site, on the beach side of Lincoln Ave. across from 405 Lincoln. On Dec. 30 it was out on the jetties and in the dune directly behind the construction site. Today it was at the construction site. The ROCK WREN was originally discovered Dec. 2, and looks like it may stay the winter.
A SNOWY OWL, probably an immature male, was discovered at Brigantine NWR on Dec. 30. It was perched atop a refuge sign along the north dike, before the crossdike, near auto tour stop #9. It was not real white, so not an adult male; and not real dark, so not an adult female. Another SNOWY OWL report came in Dec. 24, of a bird perched on the beach in Brigantine Island at 39th St.
An imm. male KING EIDER was in the water near the Concrete Ship on Dec. 30. An ICELAND GULL was seen Dec. 28 on the beach east of the South Cape May Meadows; it was an ADULT in winter plumage.
On Dec. 19, the day before the Cape May Christmas Count, Reed's Beach jetty was hot. An ad. BLACK-HEADED GULL was perched and feeding along with 88 BONAPARTE'S GULLS, and an ad. LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was also seen there. Dec. 20, the day of the count, it rained all morning and finally cleared in mid-afternoon. Both the gulls were located for the count after the weather cleared.
Other highlights of the Cape May count include: SEDGE WREN at Goshen Landing; 2 IPSWICH (SAVANNAH) SPARROWS near the Concrete Ship; lots of FOX SPARROWS around the point and up the bayshore; 2 E. PHOEBES at the Beanery; SHARP-TAILED SPARROWS and SEASIDE SPARROWS behind the dunes between Reed's Beach and Cook's Beach Rd.; a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW (new for the count) in the Villas near the MUA facility; NASHVILLE WARBLER and YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT in the woods behind the Acme in North Cape May.
Also, 2 WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS were at the Cemetery on Shunpike Rd. south of the Cape May Canal; 100 AM. PIPITS at Hidden Valley; WINTER WREN on Buck's Ave. near Goshen; 10 FORSTER'S TERN at the Ferry Terminal; another ad. LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at Higbee's Beach; 2 AM. BITTERNS, one at the Cape May Point State Park, and one at the Meadows; a TRICOLORED HERON behind Stone Harbor; 4 HARLEQUINS including an adult male, and a number of COM. EIDERS including an adult male, all around the Cape May Coast Guard jetties; 5 BARN OWLS in the Goshen area; and a LONG-EARED OWL near Cook's Beach. The total came to 148 species. The cumulative total over the years is 246 species. Seen count week but not count day were COM. MOORHEN, SAW-WHET OWL, LEAST BITTERN, WESTERN KINGBIRD, LAUGHING GULL, and of course the ROCK WREN.
An adult female PEREGRINE FALCON continues to frequent the Cape May Point State Park. She prefers to perch on the pole with the crossbar near the hawkwatch platform. She likes to hunt the pigeons that roost in the Bunker; quite entertaining.
On Dec. 27, the Belleplain Christmas Count was held. Sunny weather and still morning and evening made for a wonderful day's birding. The species total for this count now stands at 114 with two territories still to report. This is a record for this new count. Highlights for this count include 9 or 10 BALD EAGLES, mostly adults, at East Creek, the Maurice River, and over Woodbine; RED-SHOULDERED HAWK at East Point; 6 to 10 BLACK VULTURES over the Maurice R. ; ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS at Jake's Landing, Stipson's Island, and East Point; 5 WESTERN SANDPIPERS at Heislerville; 2 SHORT-EARED OWLS at Jake's Landing; 2 SAW-WHET OWLS at Woodbine; BARRED OWLs in Belleplain, Woodbine, and Head-of-the-River; WINTER WREN at Mast's Landing; a SEDGE WREN at Glades Rd.; a PHOEBE in Belleplain; 6 RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES in the pine woods at Jake's Landing; LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL in 2d winter plumage on the Maurice R.; and a total of 17 E. SCREECH OWLS and 27 GREAT HORNED OWLS. Also, a WOODCOCK was displaying at 6:30 AM doing its full aerial courtship in bitter cold weather (14 degrees) at East Point.
The LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at Higbee's Beach was reported as recently as Dec. 27 along with Western Sandpipers. An E. PHOEBE was still at the Beanery on Dec. 31. A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK was found Dec. 28 in a farm field near Steven's St. just north of Sunset Blvd. near Seagrove in Cape May Point. The bird was running and hopping along the ground and seemed to be eating worms.
If you're looking seaward keep an eye out for whales; on Dec. 20 a Humpback whale was seen a quarter-mile off Avalon. and on Dec. 31 a Harbor Seal was seen at the Concrete Ship.
[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 (email@example.com).] Please report sightings of rare or unusual birds to CMBO at (609) 884-2736. Thank you for calling; good birding.