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. 18 include: ROCK WREN, RED-NECKED GREBE, AM. BITTERN, ICELAND GULL, KITTIWAKE, RAZORBILL,COMMON MURRE, PUFFIN, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, BALD EAGLE, BLACK VULTURE, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, BLUEBIRD.
Cape May Point's ROCK WREN can still be found at the dunes near St. Peter's-by-the-Sea church at Lake and Harvard Drive, 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. It was seen Feb. 15 & 18.
A RED-NECKED GREBE was discovered Feb. 15 in Davy's Lake at Higbee's Beach, and has been seen daily since as of today, 2/18. It's very shy and disappears quickly into the Phragmites the second it is seen, so approach the lake cautiously with this in mind. Davy's lake has also attracted up to 14 RING-NECKED DUCKS, a female CANVASBACK, VIRGINIA RAIL, & an AMERICAN BITTERN. The lake is hidden in the dunes, south of Higbee's Beach, actually closer to the Concrete Ship than to the Higbee's Beach parking lot.
An adult ICELAND GULL was seen Feb. 14 in Stone Harbor at the Stone Harbor Yacht Club. KITTIWAKES are still being seen offshore; two were seen Feb. 12 with Bonaparte's Gulls off Cape May point. Keep in mind that a scope is often necessary to see them. A pelagic on the Miss Chris fishing boat on Feb. 15 enjoyed glassy calm waters 12 to 15 miles off cape May; the trip was a success, with 42 RAZORBILLS, 4 COMMON MURRE (2 in breeding plumage), 4 MURRE sp., 14 alcids sp., 1 PUFFIN, 12 KITTIWAKES, 25-30 GANNETS, 75-80 LOONS (mostly Common), an Eider sp., and unfortunately few whales. Oddly no Bonapartes Gulls were seen.
An oiled RAZORBILL washed up at Sea Isle City the previous day, Feb. 14.
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. Ascoli, out of Cape May, is running fishing trips every Sat. and Sun with birders welcome. 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.
CMBO's Raptor Field Trip on Feb. 14th saw a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK and an adult PEREGRINE FALCON at Goshen Landing; about 1000 Snow Geese were also seen returning from Delaware and points south. Three BLACK VULTURES and a pair of RED-TAILED HAWKS were at the Heislerville Wildlife Management Area along with many Canvasbacks in the cove. Thousands of Pintails, Black Ducks, and Mallards were on the Maurice River, put up by several BALD EAGLES. Raptor reports elsewhere this week include: an imm. female COOPERS HAWK chasing Pigeons near the "Christian Admiral" hotel on the Cape May boardwalk; 15 RED-TAILED HAWKS at the Corbin City WMA; and 2 BLACK VULTURES over the Parkway at milepost 4.4 on Feb. 15. An ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was seen Feb. 17 at the Higbee's Beach parking lot. A flock of 12 E. BLUEBIRDS were at Goshen Landing Feb. 14 near the Horse Pasture, and on Feb. 13 a number of E. Meadowlarks were there.
[local nature notes & program listings omitted -tr.]
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. For information on our programs and field trips, write to CMBO, PO Box 3, Cape May Point, NJ, 08212. Thanks for calling; good birding.