Cape May Rare Bird Alert - 4/3/1997
You have reached the Cape May Birding Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. Highlights for the week ending April 3 include sightings of RUFF, EURASIAN GREEN-WINGED TEAL, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, an announcement about some great prices on CMBO' OPTICS, local nature notes, news of CMBO's upcoming programs and field trips, and an announcement about volunteer opportunities with The Nature Conservancy.

A RUFF was discovered at Thompson's Beach on March 28 and was still present on April 3. The bird is well up the road beyond the bridge on the right. Low tide is best for both viewing the bird and navigating the treacherous road. A EURASIAN GREEN-WINGED TEAL is also present at that location.

LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS were seen in two locations this week with an adult on the beach at the Gingerbread Church on Cape May Point and two (one adult and one 1st year) near the fish docks along Ocean Drive.

CLAY-COLORED SPARROW continues in West Cape May seen this week on the 28th of March near 2nd and West Avenues.

Arrivals this week included an early WHITE-EYED VIREO at Higbee Beach on March 30. BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS have been seen in small numbers and a CHIMNEY SWIFT was over the South Cape May Meadows on the 1st of April.

RED-THROATED LOON numbers continue to build. The Delaware Bay is a major staging area for them before migrating north. Scan from the beachfront in Cape May or Cape May Point.

CMBO's April 1st "Stone Harbor Point" trip enjoyed excellent looks at both RED-THROATED LOONS and COMMON LOONS in the surf and observers at the north end of Avalon reported similar up-close looks at loons this week, including several COMMON LOONS coming into breeding plumage.

CMBO's March 29th "Poor Man's Pelagic" trip aboard the Cape May-Lewes Ferry enjoyed spring-like weather and lengthy looks at dozens of N. GANNETS as they hung suspended in the draft behind the ferry. All but 2 of the gannets were adults, gleaming white with black wing tips; the immatures will migrate later.

2 SHORT-EARED OWLS were seen at dusk at Jakes Landing Road on March 29th. And one was seen April 1st at 6:20 p.m. over the marshes behind the Wetlands Institute on Stone Harbor Boulevard.

CMBO's Annual Spring Optics Sale, held March 22 & 23rd, was a huge success. And the best part of it all is that we still have some great prices on quality optics. If you couldn't join us for the sale, stop on down at your convenience and check it out.

Local Nature Notes follow: Temperatures have been quite toasty this week triggering more butterfly activity. This week saw the first Henry's Elfins, Red Admiral, American Copper, and Juvenal's Duskywing. The sandy roads of Belleplain State Forest are where most of these sightings occurred: 10 Henry's Elfins and a Red Admiral were seen there March 30th, the day before the big snow, and on April 3 five Henry's Elfins were seen. A Juvenal's Duskywing was seen April 2 on Old Robbins Road in Belleplain State Forest. And the American Copper was seen March 30th at Hidden Valley. Each butterfly outing has also enjoyed numbers of Question Marks, Mourning Cloaks, Spring Azures, Cabbage Whites, and a few Commas. Shadbush is now in bloom; it is the small tree with delicate white flowers that grows along the Parkway and elsewhere. When it blooms it's a sure sign that Shad are running up the Delaware Bay on their way to spawn in the Delaware River. A local fish store reported today, April 3rd, though that the shad they're selling is still coming from further south . . . so they're not here yet. Chorus Frogs are calling now; their call sounds like someone running a finger down a comb. Great Horned Owlets are getting quite big now and can easily be seen if a nest is occupied. Flowering Quince is in bloom, often nature's signal that hummingbird feeders should be hung if we hope to hold a few migrants and entice them to breed before our gardens really get going and accomplish that task themselves. Forsythia is in full bloom and Red Maple trees are red with buds.

The last four CMBO sponsored "Maurice River Bald Eagle Cruises" will be offered Saturday, April 5th, and Sunday, April 6th. Trips run twice daily (a morning trip from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and an afternoon trip from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m.) The boat leaves from a dock in Millville. To register for these CMBO sponsored trips and learn further details, call 609-884-3100. Be sure to say you learned of the trips through CMBO or NJ Audubon, since then a portion of the proceeds will benefit CMBO.

CMBO's Spring Program Schedule is packed with fun field trips and workshops. Each week 7 different bird and/or butterfly walks are offered, details follow. Every Tuesday, Pete Dunne will lead a "Birds of the Seashore" walk, meeting at the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge at 7:30 a.m., and every Tuesday evening Mike Fritz will lead a "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point & Nummy's Island" walk, meeting at 5:00 p.m. in the Stone Harbor Point parking lot. Every Wednesday Pat Sutton will lead a "Butterfly Walk in Belleplain", meeting at 9 a.m. at the end of Jakes Landing Road. Every Thursday Bill Glaser & Karl Lukens will lead a "Spring Birding in Belleplain" walk, meeting at 7:30 a.m. at Belleplain State Forest's Field Office. Every Friday Fred Mears and Bill Glaser will lead a "Higbee Beach Bird Walk," meeting in the parking lot at the end of New England Road at 7:30 a.m. Every Saturday, Karl Lukens and Tom Parsons will lead a "Birding Cape May Point" walk, meeting at 7:30 a.m. in the raised picnic pavilion at the Cape May Point State Park. Every Sunday, Louise Zemaitis will lead a "Hidden Valley Bird & Butterfly Walk," meeting in the small clamshell parking lot on the south side of New England Road at 7:00 a.m. Other special upcoming spring programs include a workshop on "Binoculars & Spotting Scopes for Birders" with Louise Zemaitis on Saturday, April 5th . . . "A shower for the Birth of CMBO's Model Backyard Habitat" also on April 5th . . . a "Cape May National Wildlife Refuge Field Trip" on April 12th, a "Backyard Habitat For Birds & Butterflies Workshop" on April 26th and much more! The Cape May Century Run Team, sponsored by Perky Pet Products and an official team on the World Series of Birding, still has openings. In the past this team has enjoyed a leisurely day's birding, seen between 135-143 birds -- mostly south of the Cape May Canal, and raised lots of money for CMBO's conservation efforts. Call 609-861-0700 for more details. Pick up a copy of CMBO's spring program schedule for more details on our programs or call CMBO at 609-861-0700 to learn more.

The Nature Conservancy has some volunteer opportunities. TNC is seeking shorebird volunteers to help staff Delaware Bay shorebird viewing beaches in May. And they are also looking for piping plover volunteers for the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge. Call Viv Hawkins at (609) 785-1735 for more details.

The 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, and the Observatory, call our new Center for Research & Education at 609-861-0700 or send a request for information to CMBO, 600 Route 47 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210. If you are in the area do not hesitate to visit our birding bookstore at 701 E. Lake Drive in Cape May Point, open DAILY, 9-5. Our new Research and Education Center will not be open fulltime for visitors until late April or early May, but several of the indoor spring programs will be held there.

The Cape May Birding Hotline is a service of New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory and details sightings from Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties and near shore waters. Updates are made on Thursday evenings, more often if warranted. Please report sightings of rare or unusual birds to CMBO at 609-884-2736. Thanks for calling and GOOD BIRDING!

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