Cape May Rare Bird Alert - 2/20/1997
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 February 20 include reports from the February 16 pelagic trip LITTLE GULL, COMMON EIDER, EURASIAN WIGEON, an announcement about CMBO's ANNUAL SPRING OPTICS SALE, local nature notes, news that Pete Dunne will offer an additional "Barnegat to Brigantine Duck Round-up" field trip on Sunday, March 16, since the Saturday trip is full, and news of CMBO's other upcoming programs and field trips.

You've reached our new CAPE MAY BIRDING HOTLINE phone number, 609-861-0466. Make a note of it and please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this change may have caused you.

The pelagic trip out of Cape May aboard the Miss Chris registered the following highlights: two NORTHERN FULMARS, TWO ATLANTIC PUFFINS, ONE COMMON MURRE, and FOUR DOVEKIES. RAZORBILLS and NORTHERN GANNETS were also seen. On the trip in a drake COMMON EIDER was seen at the Coast Guard jetty.

Several LITTLE GULLS were seen this week around Cape May and Cape May Point. Five were seen in the rips off Cape May Point on February 17 at Lehigh Avenue. Others were seen off 2nd Avenue jetty in Cape May and at Norbury s Landing north of Villas along Delaware Bay. Look for concentrations of feeding BONAPARTE'S GULLS. The rips (rough water southwest of the lighthouse) is a favored spot.

EURASIAN WIGEON were seen in two locations this week: one in Lily Lake on the 17th and one in the Coast Guard ponds along Ocean Drive on the 18th.

Other highlights this week included: ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER in the South Cape May Meadows (SCMM) on the 20th (it s usually seen between the parking lot and the platform), LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at 2nd Avenue jetty on the 15th, and 14 BLACK VULTURES over SCMM on the 20th.

The must intriguing sighting of the week was of a JAEGER in the rips off Cape May Point on February 15th. It was too distant to identify to species, but any Jaeger is very rare in winter.

The SNOWY OWL continues to be seen at Forsythe NWR, also known as Brigantine. It was first seen in mid-December, and sightings this week came into CMBO for February 16 and 19th. A SHORT-EARED OWL was also seen there on the 19th. The Snowy Owl is being seen within the impoundments from the east dike . . . in other words a bit north of the southeast corner of the east pool where it's been found most of the winter. Check the Refuge sighting sheets before driving around the dike to see where it's most recently been seen and give yourself plenty of time looking for it since it can stay quite hidden in a nook out of the wind and with the recent snow it has lots of camouflage. Thank you for continuing to keep us posted here at CMBO of your Snowy Owl sightings by calling either 609-884-2736 or 609-861-0700. The Forsythe NWR also offers excellent opportunities to study waterfowl up close, including N. PINTAIL, HOODED MERGANSERS, N. SHOVELERS and GREEN-WINGED TEAL, and SNOW GEESE.

CMBO's Friday evening "Hawk & Owl Watches" continue to enjoy GREAT HORNED OWLS at dusk at Jakes Landing. Just after 5:20 p.m. has been the magic time when Great Horneds fly out to perch on the marsh edge.

Mark your calendars! CMBO's Annual Spring Optics Sale will be held Saturday and Sunday, March 22 & 23 at the Cape May Bird Observatory's Northwood Center in Cape May Point. This clearance sale will include stuff the optics companies have passed our way along with the plea "so what do you think of these babies?" -- plus all the stuff the Director found when he cleaned out his desk and moved to the new center. Some highlighted optics that will be for sale include the following: 1 new Leica 10x42 roof for $999 (regular member's price is $1,145) 2 Leica 10x42 demos (with warranty) for $880 each 1 Leica 8x42 demo (with warranty) for $845 (retail market value is $1,050) 10 Nikon Field Scopes ED 78mm for $750 each (retail market value is $1,100) 30 Nikon Spotting Scopes with 15-45 zoom x 60mm for $275 each (retail market value is $447) 100 Nikon 8x21 Sprint binoculars for $45 each (retail market value is $95) 1 NEW Bausch & Lomb Elite 7x36 for $775 1 used Basch & Lomb Elite 78mm spotting scope with 20x wide angle eyepiece for $400 (with an extra zoom eyepiece for $100) 2 Velbon Tripods for $40 each Nikon 10x50 Kestrel (field test model) for $100 ($290 is the list price) Nikon 7x35 Lemur (field test model) for $75 ($237 is the list price) AND ABOUT A HUNDRED OR SO MORE! The rules for this ANNUAL SPRING OPTICS SALE follow: No phone orders! -- No down payments or holds! -- FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED. March 22 & 23, doors open each morning at 9:00 a.m. and will remain open until 5:00 p.m. See you there!

Local Nature Notes follow: The spring-like weather pushed at least one overwintering adult butterfly out of its protective nitch today. A Mourning Cloak was seen flitting across the Cape May National Golf Course on February 20! Crocuses began blooming February 16th. Daffodils and Day Lilies are poking through the ground. Red-winged Blackbirds are giving their "konk-er-eee" spring song, Mourning Doves are cooing, and Cardinals are singing their spring song too: "cheer cheer cheer." Great Horned Owls were very quiet for the last month, being on eggs, but this past week began giving a brief series of very low hoots at dusk. Female Great Horned Owls are on eggs now and those eggs should hatch by the end of February. Any large stick nest could be the one they're using. Bald Eagles, another very early nester, will be on eggs soon too. With the warm weather lately American Woodcock have been displaying at dusk, dawn, and on moonlit nights. 5-6 were heard at dusk the evening of February 18th in the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge, known to many as the South Cape May Meadows.

Some of CMBO's upcoming programs follow: Due to its popularity Pete Dunne will be offering another "Barnegat to Brigantine DUCK ROUND-UP" field trip on Sunday, March 16, since the Saturday trip is full. The trip runs from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., beginning at Barnegat and ending at Brigantine. Cost: $15 members, $25 nonmembers. Call CMBO at 609-861-0700 to register. Payment holds your place. Send payment to CMBO, Center for Research & Education, 600 Route 47 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210. Other upcoming winter programs include weekly "Owl & Hawk Watches at Jakes Landing" every Friday, now through March 14th at 4:00 p.m.; weekly "Winter Bird Walks" every Sunday, now through March, meeting at 8:30 a.m. in the raised picnic pavilion at the Cape May Point State Park. The "Bird Watching For Beginners Course" will be taught February 22-23 and again March 29-30. Other upcoming programs include an "Oldsquaws In Love" Field Trip on February 22, a "Woodcock Dance" outing on March 8, and a "Poor Man's Pelagic" trip on March 29. CMBO's spring program schedule will be reaching members shortly. Any interested nonmembers should give us a call to receive it. Call CMBO at 609-861-0700 to learn more about the winter or spring programs and to register.

CMBO sponsored "Maurice River Bald Eagle Cruises" will be offered every Saturday and Sunday, March through early April (weather dependent), twice daily (a morning trip from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and an afternoon trip from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m.) The boat leaves from a dock in Millville. To register for these CMBO sponsored trips and learn further details, call 609-884-3100. Be sure to say you learned of the trips through CMBO or NJ Audubon, since then a portion of the proceeds will benefit CMBO.

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 new Center for Research & Education at 609-861-0700 or send a request for information to CMBO, 600 Route 47 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210. If you are in the area do not hesitate to visit our birding bookstore at 707 E. Lake Drive in Cape May Point, open every day except Tues. & Wednesday, 9-5. Our new Research and Education Center will not be open full time for visitors until April, but many of the indoor winter programs will be held there.

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 or on Tuesday and Wednesday to 609-861-0700. Thanks for calling and GOOD BIRDING!

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