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. 25 include:
EARED GREBE, RUFF, SNOWY OWL, RAZORBILL, MURRE, DOVEKIE, HARLEQUIN DUCK, EURASIAN WIGEON, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, ICELAND GULL, YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON, COMMON MOORHEN, PIPING PLOVER, OSPREY, LAUGHING GULL, PECTORAL, LEAST SANDPIPER, SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER, SHORT-EARED OWL, local nature notes, information on pelagic trips, and news of upcoming programs and field trips.
Cape May Point's ROCK WREN has not been reported since March 10. If you are looking for this bird, its favorite haunts from early Dec. through March 10 were the dunes near St. Peter's-by-the-sea Church, or out near the jetty by the dune crossover, or at the construction site across from nearby 405 Lincoln Ave. Please report any sightings to this office.
An EARED GREBE was seen on Mar. 21 with 3 Horned Grebes in a lagoon in the town of Stone Harbor. It was seen on the way into town, before the traffic light, beyond a chain-link fence which is next to a hotel.
This spring's first RUFF was seen Mar. 23 at Pedricktown, which is on the border of Salem and Gloucester counties. Bill Boyle's book, Bird Finding in New Jersey, gives excellent directions.
A SNOWY OWL was seen at dusk on Mar. 19 at Avalon, sitting on a duck blind on the marsh on the back side of Avalon at 75th St.
The Miss Chris fishing boat out of Cape May reported alcids everywhere on Mar. 20, including RAZORBILLS, MURRES, and a few DOVEKIES. Apparently some were close enough to shore that they could probably have been seen from land. On Mar. 21, the same boat saw 50 RAZORBILLS, 10 N. GANNETS, 15 Horned Grebes and 150 Com. Loons from 12 to 23 miles southeast of Cape May. For those interested in going, Capt. Ascoli of Miss Chris runs fishing trips each Saturday and Sunday with birders welcome. To reserve or for details call 609 884- 3939. The CMBO "poor man's pelagic" on the Cape May Ferry on Mar. 20 had only one Gannet; normally this time of year there are dozens in the Delaware Bay. The ocean temperature is colder than normal for this time of year, with fewer fish, and hence fewer Gannets.
Ten HARLEQUIN DUCKS can still be found at Barnegat Light. A male EURASIAN WIGEON continues to be seen just north of Cape May on Ocean Drive across from Two-Mile Inn. It was reported today, Mar. 25. Several LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS are around. One was seen at the Cape May Canal north of the Ferry terminal on Mar. 20. Also that day, one was seen at the Lewes Delaware ferry terminal. On Mar. 25, an adult was at Reed's Beach. Lots of Bonaparte's Gulls can be seen now at the Cape May ferry terminal, and at Reed's Beach. Two ICELAND GULLS were reported from Sandy Hook on Mar. 22.
The season's first YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON was seen Mar. 20 along the Garden State Parkway six miles north of Cape May, and today, Mar. 25, the first GLOSSY IBIS arrived, a flock of ten. COM. MOORHENS can still be found in the South Cape May Meadows. PIPING PLOVER reports have come in from Champagne Island, and from the Meadows. OSPREY sightings are growing. Two were nest-building in Lewes, Del. on Mar. 20. One is on a nest at Barnegat Light. LAUGHING GULLS are being seen in small numbers now. A flurry of PHOEBE arrivals were reported this week, from Sunset Blvd., Hidden Valley, and elsewhere.
A PECTORAL SANDPIPER was seen just north of Cape May along Ocean Drive, across from Two-Mile Inn. Two LEAST SANDPIPERS are using the beach at the north end of Avalon. On Mar. 24, two SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER were seen at the construction site at the intersection of N. Wildwood Blvd. and Ocean Drive.
CMBO's Sandy Hook Hawk watch began this week. Please welcome Jerry McGrory, this spring's hawkwatcher. As of the 23d., he was off to a great start, with 3 PEREGRINES, 36 Turkey Vultures, an OSPREY, 10 N. HARRIERS, 21 SHARP-SHINS, 17 COOPER'S HAWKS, 17 RED-SHOULDERS, 13 AM. KESTRELS, and 2 MERLINS. A ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was hunting the marsh at Jakes' Landing Rd. just north of Dennisville on Mar. 20. Two SHORT-EARED OWLS were seen Mar. 19 at East Point in Cumberland Co.
Waterfowl numbers for most species have peaked on the Maurice River. On Mar. 19, numbers were about one-third of what they were two weeks before. Numbers for Mar. 19 include 1000 Pintail, 1500 Mallards, 1400 Black Ducks, 4 Wood Ducks, 2 Great Cormorants, 32 Red-breasted Mergansers, 13 Hooded Mergansers, 8 Com. Goldeneye, 10 Lesser Scaup, and 23 Canvasbacks. 760+ Green-winged Teal and one Blue-winged Teal were also seen; their numbers are still growing. On Mar. 19 at Turkey Point in Cumberland Co. there were 900 Green-winged Teal, 750 Black Ducks, 520 Mallards, 1000 Pintail, 2 Blue-winged Teal, 300 Gadwall, 80 Am. Wigeon and 40 Com. Mergansers. Sunset Lake in Wildwood Crest is also good for waterfowl now. On Mar. 25 20 Horned Grebes were there with several in near=breeding plumage. 10,000 Snow Geese were at Money Island in Salem Co. on Mar. 19.
[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, April 10-11, and May 29-30. 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.