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 April 16 include SANDHILL CRANE, LITTLE GULL, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, ICELAND GULL, HARLEQUIN DUCK, COMMON TERN, LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, UPLAND SANDPIPER, WHIMBREL, WILLET, all the swallows, BLUE GROSBEAK, news of other land bird arrivals, Sandy Hook hawkwatch totals, and news of upcoming programs and trips.
A SANDHILL CRANE flew over Mauricetown in Cumberland County on April 13. A first year LITTLE GULL was seen over the Second Ave. jetty in Cape May on April 10, 11, and 13. An adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was seen on April 13 from St. Mary's jetty in Cape May Point. On April 10, a first winter ICELAND GULL was at Shark River, and 10 HARLEQUIN DUCKS were still at the Barnegat Light jetty.
Sightings of single COMMON TERNS have occurred at Cape May Point on April 10 and 14. A flooded farm field in Goshen on the west side of Rt. 47 north of Uncle's Gulf gas station and next to a yellow farm house, has attracted LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS, up to 5, on April 8, and 1 as recently as April 11. An UPLAND SANDPIPER, which often perches near the highway, was also there as recently as April 13. And a flock of Yellowlegs is also there. On April 9, an UPLAND SANDPIPER was in the field at the southwest corner of New England Rd. and Bayshore Rd. in Cape May.
Five WILLETS were in the Cape May Meadows on April 12. A WHIMBREL flew over Higbee's Beach on April 15. The first good flock of swallows swarmed over the Meadows on April 12, including six BANK SWALLOWS, one CLIFF, several ROUGH-WINGS, 4 CHIMNEY SWIFTS, and lots of Tree Swallows. Also on the 12, a COMMON NIGHTHAWK was seen over the Cape May Meadows. On April 14, several thousand Tree Swallows were seen over Ocean Drive just north of Cape May.
Land birds are appearing in small numbers on migration. There are now many PINE WARBLERS singing in Belleplain State Forest. BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLERS, and LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH were in low numbers on April 13 but will be thick within the week at Belleplain. The first BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER was there April 14, the first RED-EYED and WHITE-EYED VIREOS were there April 12, along with the first 2 BLUE GROSBEAKS. A ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK was at a feeder on April 13 in Cape May Court House eating sunflower seed. A PHOEBE was on territory at Belleplain April 13. BLUEBIRDS are on territory and singing along Cedar Bridge Rd. in Belleplain. Higbee's Beach held the first HOUSE WREN on April 15, along with 3 migrant Chipping Sparrows, and in the S. Cape May Meadows, a late Tree Sparrow was seen.
The first GREEN-BACKED HERON was seen April 12 at Lily Lake in Cape May Point. Many of the other herons are back in force or still arriving. On April 12 good migrating conditions brought 60 Great Blue Herons, 30 Great Egrets, 12 Snowy Egrets, 2 Little Blue Herons, 24 Black-crowned Night Herons, and 24 Glossy Ibis in Cape May. A Least Bittern was heard on April 12 in the Cape May Point State Park. Large flocks of Cormorants are being seen migrating north. If you take the Cape May ferry, you can look forward to good looks at N. GANNETS. Over 50 were seen April 12, most adults. Look at inland lakes now for migrant COMMON LOONS in breeding plumage.
At Sandy Hook, between April 8 and 14, the hawk watch totaled 48 TURKEY VULTURES, 68 OSPREY, 108 N. HARRIER, 137 SHARPSHINS, 49 COOPER'S HAWKS, 16 RED-SHOULDERS, 32 RED-TAILS, 5 BROADWINGS, 579 AM. KESTREL, 61 MERLIN, and 2 PEREGRINES, plus an ICELAND GULL, a CLIFF SWALLOW, and a BLUE GROSBEAK. A small hawk flight passed over Cape May Point April 14, including 30 KESTRELS, 1 MERLIN,. 1 N. HARRIER, and 4 OSPREY.
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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 May 29-30, and June 26-27. 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.