Cape May Rare Bird Alert - 2/24/1994
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. 24, 1994 include RED-NECKED GREBE, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, RAZORBILL, SHORT-EARED OWL, TREE SWALLOW, DICKCISSEL, YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD, COMMON REDPOLL, an update on upcoming pelagic trips, and other announcements.

Our thanks to all who called in RED-NECKED GREBE sightings, and please continue to do so. Special thanks to Laurie Larson who faxed us all the information on the RED-NECKED GREBE flights from the computer [BirdChat] network. [And thanks in turn to all who contributed. -LL]. Our theory that the flights originated in the Great Lakes seems confirmed by this information. Evidently only Lake Michigan had a significant amount of open water in early February, thus precipitating the Grebes and other Great Lakes winterers on our shores. This unprecedented flight began Feb. 10, and continues, but if you haven't enjoyed them yet be sure to go looking soon before they go back north and west.

We at the Observatory continue to enjoy RED-NECKED GREBES out the window, where at first three and now four of these magnificent beasts are now present on Lily Lake. Most of the locations that harbored Grebes last week continue to do so, with the best of these spots being the Cape May Harbor and the back bays behind many of the barrier islands, such as in the Wildwoods, Stone Harbor, and Avalon. Other locations reported this week include: one bird on Mill Creek along the Garden State Parkway; one in Lambertville Feb. 12; one at Jakes Landing Feb. 18; and two in Corbin City Feb. 20. So assuming that these were birds not previously counted at other sites the county total for the flight now exceeds 130 individuals. At least 3 others were found in Atlantic County on Feb. 18, with one at Port Republic, one at Leeds Point, and one on the Stockton State College campus, the latter present to the 23d.

The warm weather late last week was very welcome and triggered some movements into and through our area. WOOD DUCKS were at Hidden Valley and over the Maurice River Feb. 22. Three TREE SWALLOWS were over the State Park on Feb. 19; 3 BLACK VULTURES were at the Beanery Feb. 17; and over 1000 SNOW GEESE were seen heading north over Cape May on Feb. 18. Two WILLETS seen on Feb. 24 on the end of 96th Street in Avalon may be very early migrants, or there are more WILLETS wintering in Avalon than we thought.

The male YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD and the flock of COMMON REDPOLLS that have been reported for several weeks continue at the field of standing corn along Bayshore Rd. just south of the intersection with New England Rd. The Blackbird is among a very large flock of mixed blackbirds. A male DICKCISSEL returned on Feb. 20 to the same Cape May Point feeder that it had frequented during December. It has not been seen again though it may still be lurking in the area.

Other passerines of note include an EASTERN PHOEBE at Hidden Valley Feb. 22; 19 HORNED LARKS near the Concrete Ship on Feb. 19; a WINTER WREN at the Beanery Feb. 18; two AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS at the South Cape May Meadows Feb. 19; and continued presence of good numbers of FOX SPARROWS at many locations. Jake's Landing, always good for raptors, was excellent Feb. 22; an adult BALD EAGLE, a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, and a SHORT-EARED OWL were all seen there. Jake's Landing can be reached from Rt. 47 1.4 miles north of the WaWa Market in Dennisville. A RAZORBILL was found dead on the beach at Ocean City on Feb. 20. Interesting notes from outside our area include an imm. male KING EIDER and at least 7 HARLEQUIN DUCKS at Barnegat Light on Feb. 20; and 12 RED-NECKED GREBES at Manasquan Inlet the same day.

A pelagic trip on Capt. Bogan's boat, Jamaica II, out of Brielle on Feb. 20, found 5 BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES, 2 COMMON MURRES, & 26 RAZORBILLS. Cape May's Miss Chris fishing boat, Capt. Fred Ascoli, will have a birding pelagic trip on Monday Feb. 27. This trip will be going 15 to 40 miles offshore; leaving at 5 AM, out 12 hours, cost $50/person. Call (609) 884-3939 to register or for more information.

One or possibly two N. SAW-WHET OWLS were heard calling in Woodbine on Feb. 18 in the evening. It, or they, were giving the typical breeding song. The night was still and warm. Atlasers should put in time listening for owls over the next two months.

A few local nature notes: Dusk is a magic time now. Listen for a few hoots from the local GREAT HORNED OWL; they're on the nest now, with either eggs or newly hatched young. Male AMERICAN WOODCOCK are going through their dramatic aerial displays to attract females; listen for the "peent" which precedes their flight. Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area or any overgrown field should be a good listening post. A large butterfly was seen Feb. 19 near the Concrete Ship. The only likely species is Mourning Cloak, since they winter over as adults, taking refuge in hollow trees or behind shingles or shutters, coming out on warm winter days.

[program notes omitted -LL] 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, phone our office 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 (llarson@pucc.princeton.edu).] Please report sightings of rare or unusual birds to CMBO at (609) 884-2736. Thank you for calling; good birding.

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