You have reached the Cape May birding hotline, a service of the New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. Highlights of the week include RAZORBILL, PEREGRINE, PACIFIC LOON, LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, PHOEBE, PINE WARBLER, BLACK VULTURE, GLOSSY IBIS, SANDHILL CRANE, EURASIAN WIGEON, GREAT CORMORANT, large SCOTER numbers, news of spring hawk flights, a call for volunteers to help CMBO raise local business support for our World Series of Birding effort, and news of CMBOs spring programs.
An amazing sighting of a RAZORBILL occurred on March 16th in, of all places, the back bay waters behind Stone Harbor. At the 80th Street pier on the bay side of Stone Harbor, a RAZORBILL was observed flying up and down the Inland Waterway. Several times it surfaced practically at peoples feet as they observed from the pier. Flocks of BRANT floated beyond the bird. At one point a PEREGRINE FALCON passed over the waterway and made a beeline towards the flying RAZORBILL. The RAZORBILL escaped the PEREGRINE by flying straight into the water. To those present it must have been almost like being in Greenland where this might be a fairly common occurrence.
THe PACIFIC LOON and RAZORBILL at Manasquan Inlet were last reported to this office on March 13th, and may quite possibly still be seen there.
A LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE was seen at Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge on March 14th and 15th, along with an adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL on the 13th and 14th, and an immature GOLDEN EAGLE on the 16th.
Higbee Beach held an early YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT on March 13th. Two PHOEBEES were at Higbee on March 18th.
PINE WARBLER reports are coming in daily from various locations. Ten were seen in Dividing Creek in Cumberland County on March 14th, along with BLACK VULTURE, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK and both HOODED MERGANSERS and COMMON MERGANSERS out at Turkey Point. Ten to twelve PINE WARBLERS were seen March 13th at the Cape May County Park on Route 9 in Cape May Courthouse. A GLOSSY IBIS was seen this week at Turkey Point on March 14th. Three SANDHILL CRANES were flyovers on March 14th on the Maurice River near Laurel Lake.
EURASIAN WIGEON reports came in from Manahawkin Wildlife Management Area on March 11th, where a male and a female or immature were seen, and from the southern end of the Garden State Parkway on March 14th, where Mill Creek crosses under the Parkway at Mile Marker .5.
An adult GREAT CORMORANT was seen from Higbee Beach along the beachfront on March 13th, and an observer aboard the Cape May - Lewes Ferry counted 35 GREAT CORMORANTS at the Lewes, Delaware Ferry Terminal on March 17th, all of them in breeding plumage. On March 17th the Lewes, Delaware Ferry Terminal waters also held 50 SURF SCOTERS and 100 BUFFLEHEAD, but not one horned grebe, normally fairly common there at this time. A PEREGRINE FALCON was also enjoyed as it perched on the breakwater in Lewes.
Crossing the Delaware Bay on the ferry on the 17th yielded 1,500 BLACK SCOTER, 100 OLDSQUAW, 25 NORTHERN GANNET and 50 RED-THROATED LOONS. Hundreds of NORTHERN GANNETS were seen from land by observers at 2nd Avenue Jetty in Cape May on the 18th as they passed by heading up into the Delaware Bay. Also on March 18th, over 100 RED-THROATED LOONS were counted in the waters off 2nd Avenue Jetty. These numbers will continue to grow as these birds stage here before migrating north.
The Cape May Bird Observatorys Poor Man Pelagic Trip crossing the Delaware Bay on March 14th found 3,000 SCOTER, including both BLACK SCOTER and SURF SCOTER, 1,000 BONAPARTES GULLS, 150 RED-THROATED LOONS, an immature BLACK-HEADED GULL and good looks at NORTHERN GANNETS.
A PEREGRINE FALCON has been seen regularly perched either on the Cape May water tower or the towers at the Magnesite Plant on Sunset Boulevard. It was most recently reported on March 17th.
Hawks are on the move now, and small flights have been witnessed around Cape May. On March 13th, 8 - 10 RED-TAILS, 40 TURKEY VULTURES and 2 RED- SHOULDERED HAWKS passed over the Beanery. On March 17th warm afternoon winds brought 20 TURKEY VULTURES and 9 BLACK VULTURES swirling in a large kettle over the Point, and on March 17th, an OSPREY was seen midway across the Delaware Bay migrating north.
Further north in the state, the Cape May Bird Observatory's official Hawk Watcher for the Spring Hawk Watch at Sandy Hook, New Jersey is Dave White. Dave began the watch on March 11th. The weeks total for Sandy Hook up to March 17th included 33 SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS, 9 COOPERS HAWKS, 1 NORTHERN GOSHAWK, 10 RED-SHOULDERS, 10 RED-TAILS, 1 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, 38 TURKEY VULTURES, 2 MERLINS, 1 AMERICAN KESTREL and 1 OSPREY. This the Hawk Watch will run until mid-May. It is situated on top of a dune across the road from the lighthouse at Sandy Hook. Stop by to see some hawks, and also to say hello to Dave.
Spring is definitely in the air, and nearly all our nature notes focus on spring breeding rituals. On warm, non-rainy evenings, AMERICAN WOODCOCK are going through their elaborate mating flights. You might also hear them at dawn, and on full-moon nights. Anywhere there is a weedy field should be good for WOODCOCK.
BLUEBIRDS are inspecting nest sites now, that may mean bluebird nest boxes if you put one up in a field near you. Mourning cloak butterflies are being seen on warm days. This is one of the few butterflies which winters over as an adult butterfly, hiding under leaf litter or loose shingles through the winter. GREAT HORNED OWL owlets are growing now, taking the attention of both adults to keep them fed.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).] Please report sightings of rare or unusual birds to CMBO at (609) 884-2736. Thank you for calling; good birding.