Cape May Rare Bird Alert - 3/9/1995
You have reached the Cape May Birding Hotline, a service of the New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. Highlights for the week ending March 9 include sightings of COMMON BLACK-HEADED GULL, SPOTTED TOWHEE, LAUGHING GULL, GLAUCOUS GULL, local nature notes and announcements.

A COMMON BLACK-HEADED GULL was seen as it flew by the South Cape May Meadows on March 3.

A Spotted Towhee, the western form of the RUFOUS-SIDED TOWHEE, persists in Cape May Point on Sea Grove Avenue, near the intersection with Lighthouse Ave. It's been seen near the 3 big cedars across from the red house, and is still quite secretive but is singing regularly.

March 8 brought the first LAUGHING GULL to the area, seen at the Cape May - Lewes Ferry Terminal; and the same day, a GLAUCOUS GULL in second winter plumage was seen at the shell pile, behind Axelsson & Johnson's fish market on Ocean Drive.

RED-THROATED LOON numbers are beginning to build; they stage here in the Delaware Bay before migrating north. Fifty were seen March 4 off Cape May Point. Lily Lake held HOODED MERGANSER on March 5. The Hidden Valley fields off New England Road, and groves along Stevens Streen near the Beanery, have attracted migrant PALM WARBLERS, both eastern and western forms. A male MERLIN was seen March 9 near the Cape May canal.

Jakes Landing is still a hotspot for wintering raptors; look for NORTHERN HARRIERS, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS & RED-TAILED HAWKS; at dusk, scan for SHORT-EARED OWLS. March 4, overcast conditions allowed Short-ears to hunt most of the day at Brigantine NWR.

The back-bay waters behind the barrier islands at Stone Harbor and Avalon are again full of winter and migrant waterfowl, including BRANT & LOONS; OLDSQUAW can be seen offshore and in harbors. Good numbers of AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER are wintering at Hereford Inlet, and can be seen from Nummy's Island. AMERICAN WOODCOCK were thick at Higbee Beach March 4.

An announcement: The Cape May National Wildlife Refuge is seeking volunteers to help post the refuge's properties. Call (609) 463-0994 to sign up.

Local nature notes: Spring has sprung. All water is open; hundreds if not thousands of Green-winged Teal are packed into salt ponds on the marshes. Lots of Killdeer can be found in fields and farmland. Swamp Maple trees are budding red; Woodcock can be heard each evening at the last bit of light. Wood frogs have begun to chorus and ponds are already full of their eggs. A few Spring Peepers have begun calling; in no time, their noise will drown out all other spring sounds.

Five of the 9 pairs of Bald Eagles in southern New Jersey are on eggs, according to state Endangered and Nongame Species Program staff. Young Great Horned Owls have hatched and the adults can be heard briefly now at dusk. Male Red-winged Blackbirds are on territory. E. Meadowlarks are also calling from fields and marshes.

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Fine print: 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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