Cape May Rare Bird Alert - 2/29/1996
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You have reached the Cape May Birding Hotline, a service of the New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. Highlights for the week ending Feb. 29, 1996 include sightings of NORTHERN SHRIKE, LARK SPARROW, ICELAND GULL, GLAUCOUS GULL, Spring arrivals and announcements.

An adult NORTHERN SHRIKE continues to be seen at the Beanery; it was seen as recently as Feb. 28. An immature NORTHERN SHRIKE was seen at Sun-ray Beach, along the Bayshore, also on Feb. 28.

A LARK SPARROW, along with 2 DICKCISSELS, continues to frequent a feeder in West Cape May in the 400 block of Third Ave.

The fish docks along Ocean Drive west of the toll bridge were a hot spot for gulls this week; two GLAUCOUS GULLS, two ICELAND GULLS, and a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, as well as the season's first LAUGHING GULL, were seen there. Another LAUGHING GULL was seen at the outfall of Fishing Creek, just north of the Villas, on Feb. 28-- also present there was the first returning FORSTER'S TERN.

A very early PURPLE MARTIN was seen over Fishing Creek Marsh on Feb. 28, along with 4 TREE SWALLOWS.

Eight BLACK VULTURES were seen soaring over Cape May Point on Feb. 27. RED-THROATED LOONS began staging in Delaware Bay before migrating north; 95 were counted on the morning of Feb. 26, just off the Cape May Point State Park. During a trip across the bay by ferry on Feb. 26, 6000 BLACK SCOTERS and SURF SCOTERS were seen.

SHORT-EARED OWLS are still present in decreasing numbers. Three were at Jakes Landing on Feb. 23, and one on Feb. 25. Several more road-killed SAWWHET OWLS were found this week, bringing the total to 86; there must be hundreds wintering in NJ this year. Two interesting band recoveries were noted this week. Feb. 24-25 during CMBO owling field trips, a number of sizeable owl pellets were found, though no owls were in evidence. One pellet contained a tiny songbird band, and the other contained the recognizable foot and leg of a hawk, miraculously still wearing a band. Both have been reported and we'll let you know.

Local nature notes: Warm temperatures beginning Feb. 21 triggered much Spring-like activity. Feb. 24 Wood Frogs were calling, a few Spring Peepers were heard Feb. 25, and 3 different Mourning CLoak butterflies were seen that day, at East Point, Bear Swamp (Cumberland), and in the Cape May Point State Park. The most exciting find this week, though, was a Compton's Tortoise-shell butterfly at Fishing Creek Feb. 28. Like Mourning Cloak, this species over-winters as adults. This is only the second record for Cape May County, and a most unusual date. American Woodcocks have begun to call and display. Red-winged blackbirds are singing regularly, and Fish Crows have arrived. A Belted Kingfisher arrived and is hunting Lily Lake. Red-tailed Hawks and Bald Eagles have paired up and can be found sitting side-by-side together near their nests.

[program information deleted--LL]

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 office at 609-884-2736 or a send a request for info to CMBO, P.O. Box 3, Cape May Point, NJ 08212. If you are in the area, do not hesitate to visit our headquarters and growing birding bookstore at 707 E. Lake Dr., Cape May Point. We're open 9-5 every day but Monday.

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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