Cape May Rare Bird Alert - 2/26/1998
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 26 include sightings of THICK-BILLED MURRE, GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW, KING EIDER and COMMON EIDER, local nature notes, and information about our upcoming programs and field trips.

A THICK-BILLED MURRE was seen near the jetty at St. Mary's on Cape May Point on February 20, but quickly disappeared not to be relocated.

The GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW continues at Cape May National golf course, reported this week on February 22.

Four KING EIDERS and four COMMON EIDERS were seen in Hereford Inlet southwest of Stone Harbor Point on February 21. They are feeding a set of small clams that have probably been exposed by the recent series of coastal storms. A raft of SURF SCOTER, BLACK SCOTER and WHITE-WINGED SCOTER have also been attracted, along with numbers of OLDSQUAWS and COMMON LOONS. The flats in Hereford Inlet also had four WILLETS on the 21st.

February 22 saw a small movement of swallows at Cape May, with an extremely early PURPLE MARTIN and six TREE SWALLOWS near the Beanery. The 22nd also saw a flight of BLACK VULTURES, with 29 tallied.

Sunset Lake in Wildwood Crest is well stacked with well about 140 RUDDY DUCKS, 40 HORNED GREBES, and numbers of SCAUP and BUFFLEHEAD.

Surveys on the Maurice River have noted that dabbling duck numbers there are thinning already, probably due to the unseasonably warm February.

Other interesting sightings this week included a RAZORBILL that flew by Wildwood on February 20, BLUE-WINGED TEAL at SCMM on the 21st, an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER at Cape May Point State Park on the 21st, and three EASTERN PHOEBES at the Beanery on the 26th.

WOODCOCK are displaying at dawn and dusk with the warm weather; 6-8 are being heard in the Meadows on Sunset Boulevard around 6:15 nightly. CMBO's Woodcock Dance outings still have room, on March 7th and 14th, to learn all about this incredible spring performance.

Local Nature Notes follow: February butterflies are unheard of, but the first was seen on February 21 at Cape May Point, a possible Mourning Cloak. On the 25th a Question Mark was seen at the Cape May Point State Park. And on the 26th observers in Belleplain State Forest on Pine Swamp Road and Old Robbins Trail found four species. The expected overwintering adult butterflies that were out because temperatures were in the mid-50's included 9 Mourning Cloaks, 1 Comma, and 4 probable Question Marks. The amazing 4th species, Spring Azure, had to have just emerged within a day or two. All were of the form marginata except for 1 lucia. Twelve snakes were seen on February 21 along the trails at the Cape May Point State Park. Wood Frogs are very vocal now, quacking like ducks. A significant sighting was enjoyed February 22 from a pelagic trip out of Cape May -- 2 Right Whales were seen well and close, 30-40 miles off Cape May. Right Whales are extremely rare.

Daffodils began blooming this week, crocuses are in full bloom, flowering quince is in bud, and local lawns are full of blooming Pennsylvania bittercress, dandelions, Speedwell, and purple dead nettle. Some songbirds are in full song. Young Great Horned Owls should be hatching soon or already have. Bald Eagles are mating, fixing nests, and some are already on eggs, being the second earliest nester after Great Horned Owls. Make sure your Purple Martin houses and Bluebird houses are cleaned out, they'll be back soon to inspect them, if they haven't been already!

The Cape May Bird Observatory's upcoming preregistration winter programs include a six-week "Ornithology 101" Course that begins March 3rd and runs every Tuesday evening for 6 weeks, field trips to witness the Woodcock's mating dance or flight on March 7 and March 14, CMBO's "Wintering Eagles By Boat on the Maurice River" trip on March 21, additional Saturday & Sunday "Bald Eagle Cruises" in March aboard The Skimmer -- tell them you learned about the trips from CMBO and a portion of the proceeds go back to us, our next Open House evening program will be March 18th with a program on "Backyard Terrorists like Squirrels, House Finches, and the like at our feeders," and a 2-day "Bird Watching For Beginners Course" March 28 & 29.

And don't forget to mark your calendars for CMBO's SPRING OPTICS SALE, March 28 & 29 to be held at CMBO's Center for Research & Education in Goshen. Sorry, no phone orders. You need to be here in person those two days to get great deals.

There are also two different Sunday morning bird walks, requiring no preregistration -- one at Cape May Point 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. and one at CMBO's new Center in Goshen from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. If you are not a member and would like a copy of the Winter Program Schedule with all the details, stop by either center or call us at 609-861-0700.

The Cape May Bird Observatory has two centers of activity. Our new Center for Research & Education in Goshen is located at 600 Route 47 North. The center features gardens and a meadow for wildlife, feeding stations, nature store, and a wildlife art gallery in "The Loft"on our second floor, featuring the work of some of the Bayshore's finest artists, photographer, and carvers. CMBO's Northwood Center at 701 East Lake Drive in Cape May Point now has more space than ever devoted to our growing birding book store and birding information. Both the CMBO Center in Goshen and the Northwood Center in Cape May Point are open 10-5, every day except Tuesday & Wednesday.

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 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 2 birding bookstores

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. Thanks for calling and GOOD BIRDING!

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