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 22 include LITTLE GULL, HARLEQUIN DUCKS, AMERICAN TREE SPARROW, spring arrivals, local nature notes, and news of upcoming programs and trips.
The first-year LITTLE GULL continued to be seen from the Cape May ocean front until April 16, but has not been reported since. Three HARLEQUIN DUCKS were discovered in the surf off Higbee's Beach on April 19. Two of the birds were later seen at Poverty Beach, the eastern end of Cape May city. April sightings of Harlequins seem to be a recent trend in Cape May.
The AM. TREE SPARROW that has been reported on and off at the South Cape May Meadows was seen again on April 16. This is an extremely late date, almost certainly a record for the county. Tree Sparrows are normally the last sparrows to arrive in fall and the first to depart in the spring.
As is normally the case in mid-April, every day brings new arrivals. The following is a list of this week's newcomers. A Yellow-Throated Vireo was seen April 17 at Higbee Beach. Also seen there on the 17th were Hooded Warbler, Eastern Kingbird, and Solitary Vireo; and 3 Indigo Buntings were at Hidden Valley. The 18th brought Northern Oriole to Goshen, and Worm-eating Warbler to Higbee's Beach. The 19th delivered Prairie Warbler and Northern Waterthrush to the Beanery. On the 20th Ovenbirds were discovered throughout the Belleplain State Forest; up to 15 birds were heard, where none were evident just a few days before. The 21st brought Prothonotary Warbler to the East Creek Lake outfall and Yellow Warbler to the Manumuskin River. The dates for these species were fairly typical with the exception of the N. Waterthrush, which was fairly early, and the Yellow Warbler which was slightly early.
Offshore, N. Gannets have been seen daily. Forster's Terns are nearly everywhere now, and Red-throated Loons have just begun molting their winter plumage. Com. Loons are evident both in the surf and in the back bays; a count of 30 in one raft was made near the tollbridge to Nummy's Island.
Local nature notes follow. Three of the four species of Elfin butterflies were seen this past week. Henry's Elfins were fairly numerous along the Manumuskin River April 18. A few Pine Elfins were also evident. A Frosted Elfin, the least common in the county, was seen at Belleplain State Forest on April 20. The fourth species, Brown Elfin, is usually a bit later, but should be seen any day. The first Common or CLouded sulfur was seen near Hesstown on April 18, and the first (?) Orange-tip was seen along the Manumuskin River on the 21st. Fowler's Toads and Gray Treefrogs have added their voices to the spring chorus this week. At Higbee's Beach, there were eleven spotted Turtles sunning themselves on a fallen tree. Red-bellied Turtles are also evident at this time. The first Dragonflies were seen this week; with up to 50 Blue Corporal Skimmers seen at a Cumberland Co. gravel pit.
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.