Cape May Rare Bird Alert - 3/3/1994
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. 3, 1994 include RED-NECKED GREBE, BALD EAGLE, GOLDEN EAGLE, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, SHORT-EARED OWL, AMERICAN TREE SPARROW, FOX SPARROW, YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD, COMMON REDPOLL, news of spring migrants, an update on upcoming pelagic trips, and other announcements.

The lead story, as for the past two weeks, is the large number of RED-NECKED GREBES present on area waters. Though Lily Lake froze during the recent cold snap, and the grebes moved to open waters, numbers of the species continue to be seen at a variety of places. Reports include up to three birds at Poverty Beach and 10 in West Wildwood. Three new sites were reported: one on the Heislerville impoundments Feb. 27; two on the Manumuskin River Feb. 22; and 5 on the Tuckahoe River Feb. 25, the last two sites visited by a birder in a kayak.

The CMBO winter raptor field trip on the Delaware bayshore, rescheduled from Feb. 12 to Feb. 27, had to put up with the beginning of spring migration. No, the birds hadn't all left; new birds had arrived. The trip saw a dark morph ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK and an imm. GOLDEN EAGLE, both migrants. Also seen that day were 4 BALD EAGLES, two at Heislerville and 2 at the Maurice River.

Continuing with spring migration. The area south of the canal does not have many wintering raptors beyond a few N. Harriers and Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks, so it is obvious when hawks are on the move here. In the past week or so, many more N. HARRIERS have been present. Other north-bound migrants include an imm. RED-SHOULDERED HAWK Feb. 27 at Hidden Valley, and an adult dark-morph ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK found at the Meadows Feb. 27 and also seen near New England and Bayshore Rd. to March 3. Non-raptorial migrants seen this week include 350 SCAUP in 7 flocks moving east past Poverty Beach Feb. 28; 2 AM. OYSTERCATCHERS flying north past Cape May Mar. 3; a COMMON SNIPE flying in off the bay at Cape May Point Mar. 3; a SAVANNAH SPARROW flying in off the ocean at Cape May Mar. 2; and a large influx of KILLDEER, all over Cape Island and well up the bayshore Feb. 26-27. With the balmy weekend coming up, look for other migrants, including the season's first Laughing Gull; the first birder to find one gets the coveted LaGu award. Also watch for Osprey, Piping Plover, and Purple Martin.

The shell pile on Ocean Drive behind Axelsson's Fish Market continues to attract an adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL on an irregular basis, last reported Mar. 2. Also there that day was a first-winter Herring Gull thought to be of a northern European race. The male YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD and the flock of COMMON REDPOLLS continue, at the field of standing corn on Bayshore Rd. just south of the New England Rd. intersection.

Other birds of note include two BLACK VULTURES at Bayshore and New England on Feb. 28; a SHORT-EARED OWL at the Meadows on Mar. 3; two AM. TREE SPARROWS at the Higbee parking lot Feb. 27; 3 more TREE SPARROWS at the Yellow-headed Blackbird site on Feb. 27; and the continued presence of large numbers of FOX SPARROWS at many sites, including up to 12 at CMBO.

The Miss Chris fishing boat will be making a birding pelagic trip on March 6 (Sunday). It will depart at 5 AM, go out 15-40 miles, and cost $50 per person. Anyone interested should call (609) 884-3939. This trip has been scrubbed twice due to bad weather; be sure to call Saturday to make sure it will go.

[program notes omitted -LL] 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 (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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