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 29 include YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD, BROWN PELICAN, GOLDEN EAGLE, LEAST FLYCATCHER, spring arrivals, local nature notes, and news of upcoming programs and field trips.
An adult male YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD was seen near the Cape May Point Lighthouse on April 28, but was not reported on the 29th. The now expected annual return of BROWN PELICANS to NJ occurred on the 23d, with 2 birds along the Cape May beachfront.
A LEAST FLYCATCHER was seen at Higbee Beach on April 26. A common August migrant at Cape May, this empidonax flycatcher is quite uncommon in spring, and especially so in April. Two GOLDEN EAGLES were reported this week. One was seen at Mad Horse Creek Wildlife Management Area in Salem Co. on April 24. The other, a different bird, was seen in Burlington Co. on April 27.
The influx of new spring arrivals continued unabated this week. The following is a list of this week's newcomers. A WOOD THRUSH was in Cape May Point state park on April 24; they can now be heard singing in several placed in Belleplain State Forest. Also on April 24, ORCHARD ORIOLE arrived in CMBO's front yard, 12 BLACK SKIMMERS were at Heislerville WMA in Cumberland Co., WHIPPOORWILL arrived at May's Landing. On April 25, GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER came to Higbee Beach, and BLUE-WINGED WARBLER showed up in Goshen. Blue-wings have also taken up residence in Belleplain State Forest. On April 28, an ACADIAN FLYCATCHER was heard singing in Belleplain.
In addition to the new arrivals reported on the 24th, a good spring hawk flight was enjoyed that day. The flight consisted mainly of BROADWINGED HAWKS, RED-TAILED HAWKS, TURKEY VULTURES, with a few COOPER'S HAWKS, SHARPSHINNED HAWKS, and OSPREY. RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS have become a daily occurrence as reports have come in from all over the county. A large flock of Swallows near Lily Lake that day contained up to 25 CLIFF SWALLOWS. There were up to 60 WHIMBREL at Shell Bay Landing this week; this location is the most reliable spot in the county for spring Whimbrels. Singing YELLOW WARBLERS can be heard in any suitable habitat now after just arriving last week.
Local nature notes follow. This week finally saw the beginning of a greening trend, as many trees began to take on color. Shadbush is now in bloom, which means many fishermen will be pleased; it takes its name from the run of Shad which takes place at this time of year. Many fields are full of brilliant yellow flowers, which are mostly Winter Cress, a member of the mustard family. With the blooming of many wildflowers, an influx of butterflies is sure to follow. A worn and tattered Monarch Butterfly was seen this week, as were Gray Hairstreak and American Copper. Carpenter Frogs have been calling, sounding like the distant hammer of a carpenter at work.
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.