CMBO is pleased to provide weekly summaries of the Cape's birding highlights. Coverage is limited to sightings in Cape May County. Readers should keep in mind that some reports may not be confirmed. The vast majority of information utilized in these reports comes from eBird data and "Keekeekerr" text alerts. Observers are encouraged to send reports and photos to compiler Tom Reed (coturnicops at gmail dot com).
Weather: The period began with mild conditions on 12 Apr, under a strengthening southerly flow. Strong and persistent south winds continued through 13?14 Apr, along with mild conditions and patchy sunshine. A strong cold front approached the Cape during the early-evening hours on 15 Apr, bringing with it heavy rain showers. Winds quickly shifted to the northwest through the overnight hours of 15?16 Apr, with near-record lows noted during the early AM 16 Apr. Temperatures stayed well below average 16?17 Apr, as winds shifted to the east under a low overcast. The period ended with continuing cool conditions and cloudiness, as temperatures struggled to top 50?F on 18 Apr.
Birding Summary: Observers submitted sightings of 182 species during the period 12?18 Apr. This week's arrivals included SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER, PARASITIC JAEGER, RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD, BLUE-HEADED VIREO, OVENBIRD, PROTHONOTARY WARBLER, HOODED WARBLER, AND PRAIRIE WARBLER. Notable rarities included HARLEQUIN DUCK, BLACK-HEADED GULL, CAVE SWALLOW, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE, and PAINTED BUNTING.
Location Abbreviations: BSF (Belleplain State Forest), CMP (Cape May Point), CMPSP (Cape May Pt. State Park), SCMM (South Cape May Meadows), SHPt (Stone Harbor Point).
WATERFOWL THROUGH HERONS
Waterfowl numbers continued to drop off. NORTHERN PINTAIL went unreported this week, and other species such as NORTHERN SHOVELER, RING-NECKED DUCK, and GREEN-WINGED TEAL also decreased. The "Eurasian" GREEN-WINGED TEAL was also apparently not seen. A male EURASIAN WIGEON put on a nice show at Lighthouse Pond, CMPSP on the relatively late date of 18 Apr (VE, m. ob.). A female HARLEQUIN DUCK was a pleasant surprise at Sunset Beach 15 Apr (GDa, m. ob.). SURF SCOTERS were detected moving out of Delaware Bay from CMP on several mornings, with a peak flight of 1,206 on 14 Apr (TR et al.). RED-NECKED GREBES continued to thin out-- the most recent reports included 2 at Cape May Harbor 15 Apr (CH), 1 at Cox Hall Creek WMA 17 Apr (m. ob.), 1 near Wildwood 18 Apr (VE et al.), and 1 at SHPt 18 Apr (TR). Multiple YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS continued to be found at 44th Street, Avalon through the week (m. ob.), and 3 TRICOLORED HERONS were at Nummy Island 16 Apr (m. ob.). At least 4 CAT!
TLE EGRETS were seen along Route 9 in Swainton on 18 Apr (GDw). At Cape Island, 1-2 Cattle Egrets took up residence along Bayshore and New England Roads throughout the week (m. ob.).
RAPTORS THROUGH DOVE
BROAD-WINGED HAWK was seen at CMP on several days, with a max of 5 on 18 Apr (m. ob.). The species was also noted at BSF this week, where it presumably breeds. Nummy Island was home to 57 WHIMBREL, 15+ SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, and a RED KNOT on 16 Apr (m. ob.). A PECTORAL SANDPIPER flew over CMP 16 Apr (MC, m. ob.). The year's first PARASITIC JAEGER flew north past CMP 18 Apr (GDa, TR). A BLACK-HEADED GULL at High's Beach 13 Apr could have been the last of the season (WK). LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL continued to be regular at CMP through the week, with a max of 6+ on 16 Apr (m. ob.). ROYAL TERNS were noted again this week, with 2 seen at CMP 13 Apr (TR et al.). A single EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE remained at CMP through 18 Apr. Sightings in the past week have come from Harvard Avenue, Coral Avenue, and West Lake Drive (m. ob.). SNOWY OWL apparently went unseen this week-- additional sighting reports are greatly appreciated.
HUMMINGBIRD THROUGH TREE SPARROW
The spring's first RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD zipped past CMP 12 Apr (TR et al.); another was at a feeder in Cape May Court House the same day (JA). There were daily sightings of EASTERN KINGBIRD at CMP (m. ob.), and the first migrant BLUE-HEADED VIREO was detected at BSF 13 Apr (MF). Very rare in spring, a CAVE SWALLOW was found within a large group of swifts and swallows at Lily Lake, CMP 18 Apr (CV, m. ob.). There are only a handful of spring records for this species in New Jersey. At least 12 CLIFF SWALLOWS were tallied at CMP 16 Apr, likely a product of the strong northwest winds (m. ob.).
Cape May County's 4th BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE lingered at CMP through 18 Apr (m. ob.). An obvious movement of BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS 13 Apr included 30+ at CMP (m. ob.). A very late SNOW BUNTING was a curious sight at SHPt 17 Apr, and may be the second latest on record (TR). PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (m. ob.) and PRAIRIE WARBLER (SW) arrived at the Rea Farm/Beanery 12 Apr. OVENBIRDS appeared at BSF the next day (m. ob.). A HOODED WARBLER was photographed near the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse at North Wildwood 16 Apr (MK, fide JS). VESPER SPARROW is a scarce spring migrant in Cape May County, so one at the Rea Farm/Beanery 13?16 Apr (VE et al.) was notable. The spring's first BLUE GROSBEAK flew past Coral Avenue, CMP 16 Apr (DG, TR). The Painted Bunting continued at 113 Harvard Avenue, CMP through at least 14 Apr (fide GDa). There were no reports of the EURASIAN TREE SPARROW this week, despite many hours of searching.
Jesse Amesbury (JA), Mike Crewe (MC), Glen Davis (GDa), Gail Dwyer (GDw), Vince Elia (VE), Mike Fritz (MF), Doug Gochfeld (DG), Chris Hajduk (CH), Will Kerling (WK), Mike Kilpatrick (MK), Tom Reed (TR), Joe Smith (JS), Christopher Vogel (CV), Sam Wilson (SW).
eBird. 2012. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application]. eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Accessed 18 Apr 2014. Available: http://www.ebird.org
Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Accessed 18 Apr 2014. Available: http://www.keekeekerr.com