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 Feb. 11 include: ROCK WREN, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, LITTLE GULL, GLAUCOUS GULL, KITTIWAKE, HARLEQUIN DUCKS, KING EIDER, WHITE-EYED VIREO, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, HOUSE WREN, WINTER WREN, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, EASTERN PHOEBE, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, LEAST BITTERN and AM. BITTERN, raptor and waterfowl news, local nature notes, information on pelagic trips, and news of upcoming programs and field trips.
Cape May Point's ROCK WREN hangs on through icy winter weather. It was reported Feb. 8, 9, and 10, at the dunes near St. Peter's-by-the-Sea church, and at the construction site across from 407 Lincoln Ave. It's not shy at all, and hops around right under the buildings and along the low concrete wall at the back of the house. Another bird to look for in the area is an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER that was seen Feb. 8,9,& 10 in the dune vegetation near the dune crossover at Lake and Harvard Drives.
A CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, first seen Jan. 2, was still being found at Dix Wildlife Management Area in Cumberland Co., on Feb. 5. On Feb. 6, an adult LITTLE GULL was found in with about 60 Bonaparte's Gulls near the Cape May Ferry terminal. A GLAUCOUS GULL was found Feb. 11 at Ocean Drive north of Cape May, near Two-Mile Landing. One-hundred-plus KITTIWAKES were still being found at Poverty Beach on Feb. 10, definitely scope birds.
For those eager to try out your sea legs, regularly running whalewatching trips are going out of Brielle on the boat Atlantis. The boat goes every Sat. and Sun. and costs $18. To learn more, call (908) 528 6620. A trip aboard this boat on Jan. 24 produced over 20 RAZORBILLS, 2 probable THICK-BILLED MURRES, 100+ KITTIWAKES, 200 GANNETS, and 2 to 5 Finback Whales. A bit closer, Capt. Scully, out of Cape May, is running fishing trips every Sat. and Sun with birders welcome. He also has a birding pelagic trip scheduled for Feb. 15. There are still a few places left. For details or to reserve call (609) 884-3939. Trips previous years at this time found Puffin and Great Skua.
On Feb. 5, at Barnegat Inlet near the lighthouse jetty there were 9 HARLEQUIN DUCKS, and five KING EIDERS including one subadult male.
A number of out-of-place but obviously hardy birds were found this week in spite of the cold. A WHITE-EYED VIREO was at Higbee's Beach near the tower Feb. 9 & 11, along with 8 CATBIRDS, 2 BROWN THRASHERS, & 6 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS. A COMMON YELLOWTHROAT was at Hidden Valley Feb. 5, along with a HOUSE WREN and 2 WINTER WRENS. A YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT continues to be seen at the Cape May Point State Park on the Nature Trail. It was reported there as recently as Feb. along with Kinglets and a Marsh Wren. Another CHAT was seen in Egg Harbor Township on Feb. 5 in a yard. An E. PHOEBE & a WINTER WREN were at the Beanery on Feb. 8 on the north side of the first field. Three WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS were seen Feb. 11 on Shunpike Rd. near the red barn and the horse paddock; they were in first-winter plumage.
Other interesting landbird sightings include: 3 E. BLUEBIRDS and 5 Am. PIPITS at the Beanery Feb. 7; 2 Am. TREE SPARROWS Feb. 7 at the State Park; 3 TREE SWALLOWS at Brigantine Ref. Feb. 11; and 2 CHIPPING SPARROWS on Bayshore Rd. Feb. 9. A LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER was seen in the marsh along the Garden State Parkway at Mile Marker 2 on Feb. 9. Three to four LEAST BITTERN and 2 AM. BITTERN were at Lighthouse Pond in Cape May Point State Park Feb. 5, and singles have been seen there almost daily since. An. imm. LITTLE BLUE HERON spent the week in the Cape May Meadows.
CMBO's raptor field trip in the snow Feb. 6 was quite productive. Dark morph ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS were at both Goshen Landing and Jake's Landing. Four BLACK VULTURES soared over Reed's Beach along with a slew of Turkey Vultures; a PEREGRINE FALCON shot over the hundreds of Green-winged Teal in the pond on Goshen Landing Rd.; pairs of Red-tailed Hawks were seen, and a pair of adult BALD EAGLES sat side-by-side on the edge of the Maurice River; and the brand new NJ Breeding Bird Atlas had its first documented nesting record with a Great Horned Owl on an old Red-tail nest along the Maurice R.
Raptors reports elsewhere this week include: 2 light morph ROUGH LEGGED HAWKS & 1 BALD EAGLE at Leed's Point Feb. 9; adult BALD EAGLES are still being seen regularly at Lake Lenape in Atlantic County; on Feb. 5, an adult BALD EAGLE was at Corbin City WMA, and one was over Rt. 9 in Port Republic. A belated report of an adult Bald Eagle at Alloways Lake Feb. 4 deserves followup, since a pair were seen there Jan. 8. The adult PEREGRINE FALCON that has made a living catching pigeons at the bunker in Cape May Point State Park is still being seen on a regular basis. An adult male Am. KESTREL was seen Feb. 5 in Goshen with a freshly killed Starling, the prey almost as big as the predator.
Waterfowl are good now. A female COM. GOLDENEYE is in Bunker Pond. Sunset Lake in Wildwood Crest has 13 Horned Grebes, 6 Com. Loons, 20 Lesser Scaup, 50 Greater Scaup. Stone Harbor Marina on 81st St on the Bay has Com. Goldeneye, Com. Loons, and numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers and Buffleheads on Feb. 9. 1000's of Pintails Black Ducks and Mallards can be found now on the Maurice R.
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CMBO will offer a field trip and workshop for owls and Feb. 27. Raptor field trips are scheduled for Feb. 13th. Birdwatching for Beginners, a 2-day course, is scheduled for Feb. 27-28, and March 27-28. Woodcock outings will be offered March 5, 6 and 13, at dusk. A Backyard Habitat workshop focusing on spring planting and including a plant sale will be held March 27. Poor-man's Pelagic trips will be run aboard the Cape May Ferry on March 13 and 20th. And a Birding by Ear workshop will be taught by Dick Walton, author of the Peterson Field Guide and tape of that name, on April 4. All these programs require pre-registration. To learn more about these and other CMBO programs and field trips, write to CMBO, PO Box 3, Cape May Point, NJ, 08212, or call (609) 884-2736. The Cape May birding hotline is a service of Cape May Bird Observatory and details 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. Thanks for calling; good birding.