Cape May Rare Bird Alert - 3/18/2004
You have reached the Cape May Birding Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This message was prepared on Thursday, March 18. Highlights from the last week include RAZORBILL, HARLEQUIN DUCK, RED-NECKED GREBE, SCOTERS, BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, LITTLE GULL, ICELAND GULL, and news of spring arrivals.

Sea birds continue to gather around Cape May. A RAZORBILL was seen at the mouth of the Cape May Harbor (Cold Spring Inlet) on March 14th, when 10 others were seen offshore on a pelagic trip. A female HARLEQUIN DUCK continues at the St. Mary's jetty in Cape May Point, still present on March 18th, and 8 were at the Cold Spring Inlet on March 14th. A single RED-NECKED GREBE was seen March 13 and 14 at the Mill Creek Marina, Cape May Harbor, off Ocean Drive.

The astounding flock of SCOTERS at the mouth of Delaware Bay is now estimated to number over a quarter million birds. BLACK SCOTERS are especially abundant near shore, SURF SCOTERS further offshore, and many fewer (but still many) WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS also generally found further offshore. These birds may be observed, and the nearby BLACK SCOTERS heard calling, from anywhere along the shore of Cape May Point, from Sunset Beach, and from the Cape May Lewes Ferry.

An immature BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE was seen well offshore on the March 14th pelagic trip. An ICELAND GULL was also seen offshore on this trip, and another ICELAND GULL and a NELSON'S GULL (GLAUCOUS x HERRING hybrid) were in the Cape May Harbor that day. LITTLE GULL sightings are from March 16th off Sunset Beach, from the 14th at the Cold Spring Inlet, and 3 birds seen March 11th from Sunset Beach.. A first-winter LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL continues to linger around Cape May Point, seen on March 18th by the St. Mary's Jetty.

There's a great mix of spring and winter birds around Cape May right now. Recently returned birds include EASTERN PHOEBE, LAUGHING GULL, FORSTER'S TERN, OSPREY, PINE WARBLER, WILSON'S SNIPE, and PIPING PLOVER. In addition to the water birds listed above, other lingering winter birds include SHORT-EARED OWL, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, and HORNED GREBE. Large numbers of RED-THROATED LOONS are gathering in Delaware Bay, best viewed from Sunset Beach.

Please note that the "free bridge" connecting Nummy Island to south Stone Harbor is now closed until further notice for construction estimated date for reopening is late May. Nummy can still be accessed from North Wildwood Blvd. drive past the "road closed local traffic only" sign and over the bridge).

The Cape May Bird Observatory offers an extensive series of regular bird walks that require no pre-registration and many special field trips and programs for which advanced registration is required. To receive a copy of our Program Schedule, stop at one of our centers, call the office during business hours at 609-861-0700, call our natural history and events hotline at 609-861-0466, or go to New Jersey Audubon's WEB SITE at http://www.njaudubon.org

This Cape May Birding Hotline is a service of the Cape May Bird Observatory, which is a research, conservation, and education unit of the New Jersey Audubon Society. Our aim is to preserve and perpetuate the ornithological significance of Cape May. Your membership supports these goals and this hotline. We detail sightings from around Cape May County, and also include reports from Cumberland and Atlantic Counties. Updates are typically made on Thursdays. Please report your sightings of rare or unusual birds to CMBO's Northwood Center at 609-884-2736, or e-mail reports to CapeMayReports@njaudubon.org. Thanks for calling and GOOD BIRDING!

Mark S. Garland, Senior Naturalist
Cape May Bird Observatory Northwood Center
701 E. Lake Dr., PO Box 3
Cape May Point, NJ 08212

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