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. 4 include: ROCK WREN, LITTLE GULL, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, WHITE-EYED VIREO, WINTER WREN, LEAST BITTERN, COMMON MOORHEN, SHORT-EARED OWL, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, BALD & GOLDEN EAGLES, BLACK VULTURE, COMMON CRANE, TRICOLORED HERON, waterfowl news, local nature notes, information on pelagic trips, and news of upcoming programs and field trips.
Cape May Point's ROCK WREN can still be found, either in the dunes near St. Peter's-by-the-Sea church, 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. It was seen Feb. 28, Mar. 1, and Mar. 2. On Mar. 2 it was calling.
An adult LITTLE GULL was seen feeding off Cape May Point on the rips Mar. 1
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.
Both a YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT and a WHITE-EYED VIREO were seen this week at Higbee Beach, both in the hedgerow along the trail by the observation tower. A PURPLE FINCH was at the Cape May Point state park Mar.1. It could be a migrant; none have been seen here in a long time. On Feb. 27, the South Cape May Meadows held a LEAST BITTERN and COM. MOORHEN, while at Higbee's Beach, there were 4 Catbirds, 5 Hermit Thrush, 2 Winter Wrens, 2 Brown Thrashers, 8 Meadowlarks, and 4 Fox Sparrows. The fields along Bayshore Rd. that day held 40 WATER PIPITS. After the Friday, Feb. 26th snow, 3 LEAST BITTERNS were found dead in the State Park, and one Virginia Rail, also starved, was found at Higbee's Beach near the pond in the back field.
Two SHORT-EARED OWLS put on a great show the evening of Feb. 27 at Jake's Landing near Dennisville. They were seen flying with a Rough-legged hawk out over the marsh, then flew close to the observers and perched on a post nearby. Also there was an ad. male N. Harrier and a light morph Rough-legged Hawk, and Great Horned Owls.
A survey of the Maurice R. on March 1 found waterfowl numbers still building, with over 3700 Black Ducks, 2300 Mallards, 3300 Pintails, and 530 Green-winged Teal. Lots of waterfowl are also in the Delaware Bay waters off Reed's Beach now; on Mar. 2, over 200 Ruddy Ducks were seen, along with 3000 Snow Geese, and hundreds of Bonapartes Gulls. The Maurice R. on March 1 was also good for eagles, with a total of 9 BALD EAGLES, including 5 immatures and 4 adults, also a GOLDEN EAGLE and a MERLIN, possible migrants not seen earlier in the season. Twenty-seven BLACK VULTURES were seen standing in a field on Feb. 27 at Tuckahoe, at a pig farm. Four BLACK VULTURES toured Cape May the same day, and 3 on March 1. An ad. RED-SHOULDERED HAWK was seen again this week on Stevens St., just north of Sunset Blvd. in Cape May. This is the fourth winter it has been seen there.
A COMMON CRANE, probably an escape, but nonetheless a very wary and beautiful bird, has been seen regularly in Salem Cty. near Mannington Marsh. It was most recently reported on Feb. 28. It has been seen from Hackett Rd., and from Compromise Rd., feeding in farm fields where corn lies left from last years harvest. RED-THROATED LOONS are gathering in the Delaware Bay, where 200 were seen in the rips off Cape May Point Mar. 2. On Feb. 25 about 6 AM in 17-degree weather, male WOODCOCKS were displaying in Goshen. Between the periods of snow and ice since, they've continued to pipe up, Mar. 2 and Mar. 4, right behind the CMBO office.
A Tricolored Heron was on Stone Harbor Blvd. on Feb. 27. Twenty-two Black-crowned night herons were in Avalon on the bayside at 35th st. on Feb. 27, and over 30 Gt. Blue Herons were gathered in Cumberland Cty. at the Beaver Dam crossing on Rt. 553.
Local nature notes follow. It may still seem like winter, but many birds are well into nesting season or courtship. Woodcock, Red-tailed Hawks, Great Horned Owls, Bald Eagles, Killdeer, Fish Crows, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Mourning Doves are arriving and setting up housekeeping.
A Nature Photography Workshop focused on birds, with Art Morris, is scheduled for June 5. Birdwatching for Beginners, a 2-day course, is scheduled for March 27-28. Woodcock outings will be offered March 5, 6 and 13, at dusk. 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 13 and 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.