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 Mar. 11 include:
ROCK WREN, SNOWY OWL, EURASIAN WIGEON, LITTLE GULL, BLACK-HEADED GULL, RAZORBILL, OSPREY, PURPLE MARTIN, BARN SWALLOW, LAUGHING GULL, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, PHOEBE, BLACK VULTURE, BALD EAGLE, PEREGRINE, waterfowl news, local nature notes, information on pelagic trips, and news of upcoming programs and field trips.
ANNOUNCEMENT: The storm warnings for this weekend dictate rescheduling of some field trips. Registrants for the March 13 "Poor Man's Pelagic trip" should attend the March 20 trip instead. The March 13 Woodcock Dance trip is rescheduled for Sat., March 19.
Cape May Point's ROCK WREN can still be found, either in the dunes near St. Peter's-by-the-Sea church, at the jetty, or 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. This week the bird was sighted March 6 morning and afternoon, and again on March 10. We have learned that birders entered the restricted dune area looking for the bird. Please police other birders, and make sure this does not happen again. It is not only illegal to enter the dunes other than at official crossovers (with fines if you are caught) but it is also very bad for our image and our relationship with the borough of Cape May Point. The dunes are the community's only protection and they do not permit or appreciate anyone damaging them. Thank you and sorry to take up so much of this hotline with this request.
A SNOWY OWL was seen on March 7 in Avalon at 34th St., but there have been no reports since. An adult male EURASIAN WIGEON was found March 5 and seen as recently as today at Ocean Drive, north of Cape May as you head towards Wildwood Crest, across from Two Mile Inn. The same or a second bird was in the South Cape May Meadows on March 6.
One LITTLE GULL, 3 BLACK-HEADED GULLS, and 30 Bonaparte's Gulls were seen over the Delaware Bay March 9 from the Cape May ferry terminal. Observers aboard the Miss Chris fishing boat March 7 saw 6 Pilot Whales and 1 RAZORBILL. For those eager to try out your sea legs, Capt. Ascoli, of the Miss Chris out of Cape May, is running fishing trips every Sat. and Sun. with birders welcome. Weather permitting; lately, we've had some pretty bad weather. For details or to reserve call (609) 884-3939.
Spring migration is underway, and many firsts occurred this week. The season's first OSPREY was seen today, March 11, over the Garden State Parkway at mile marker 8. The first PURPLE MARTIN arrived March 6, and was hunting over the fields along New England Rd. A BARN SWALLOW was seen over the Cape May Point state park and 13 TREE SWALLOWS were over Sunset Beach on March 9. The first LAUGHING GULLS of the season were seen March 9 at Cape May, and a FORSTER'S TERN was at Sunset Beach by the Concrete Ship March 11.
The YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT persists at Higbee's Beach, and was seen as recently as march 8 and 11 in the hedgerow along the trail by the observation tower. A singing PHOEBE was seen and heard March 6 on Bayshore Rd. across from the Beanery. A spring hawk flight occurred over Cape May Point today, March 11, bringing 9 BLACK VULTURES, 20 RED-TAILED & 1 RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS, 2 N. HARRIER & 2 SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS. March 7 an adult BALD EAGLE soared over Goshen. An adult PEREGRINE FALCON was seen at the Cape May Point state park March 7 diving on a gull. Red-shoulders and Red-tails are courting now; watch for courtship flights.
RED-THROATED LOONS are gathering in the Delaware Bay as they do each spring, and hundreds can be seen offshore from the Second Ave. jetty in Cape May and elsewhere. Lilly Lake has been good for waterfowl this week, with Canvasbacks, Ruddy Ducks, Red-breasted Mergansers, and Ring-necked Ducks. Cape May Harbor on March 10 had an ad. male OLDSQUAW, and over 30 Bufflehead. For waterfowl, also visit Sunset Lake in Wildwood Crest. One or two AM. BITTERNS have been seen almost daily along the east path through the S. Cape May Meadows. Woodcock are displaying in force at Higbee's Beach at dusk.
[local nature notes omitted]
CMBO will be offering Nature Photography workshops this spring and summer. Basics of Nature Photography will be held May 8, and a Bird Photography workshop with Art Morris is scheduled for June 5. Birdwatching for Beginners, a 2-day course, is scheduled for March 27-28. A Backyard Habitat workshop focusing on spring planting and including a plant sale will be held March 27. Poor-man's Pelagic trips will be run aboard the Cape May Ferry on March 20th. And a Birding by Ear workshop will be taught by Dick Walton, author of the Peterson Field Guide and tape of that name, on April 4. All these programs require pre-registration. To learn more about these and other CMBO programs and field trips, write to CMBO, PO Box 3, Cape May Point, NJ, 08212, or call (609) 884-2736.
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. Thanks for calling; good birding.