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 4 include sightings of EUROPEAN HERRING
GULL, ICELAND, GLAUCOUS and LESSER BLACK-BACK GULLS, new spring
arrivals, local nature notes, and announcements.
A first-winter EUROPEAN HERRING GULL was found on April 2nd amid
a large concentration of gulls in the vacinity of the fish docks
along Ocean Drive at the base of the toll bridge. Also seen
there were three LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS, two ICELAND GULLS,
and a GLAUCOUS GULL.
An AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER was seen at Thompson's Beach on the
Delaware bayshore on March 30th.
A RED-NECKED GREBE continues to be seen near Mill Creek marina
along Ocean Drive.
Two AMERICAN BITTERNS were present in the South Cape May Meadows
A very early HOODED WARBLER and an on-time LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH
were present at Savage's Run in Belleplain State Forest along
Sunset Road on April 4th.
ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS returned April 4 and have already taken up
residence at the Bunker in the State Park, where they breed in
the pipes under the Bunker.
The first major steady push of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS passed
over on April 2 involving hundreds of birds.
A fine early season passerine flight occured at Higbee Beach,
today April 4th. Some highlights included about 30 PHOEBES, 100
N. FLICKERS, a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, and three CHIPPING
It is about peak for staging RED-THROATED LOONS, something we
look forward to each late winter / early spring. They gather in
the Delaware Bay in terrific numbers each spring before migrating
north. Scan the waters off 2nd Avenue in Cape May, off the
jetties in Cape May Point and around the Concrete Ship to find
them; tides move them around. It's always fun to watch them
begin to change from winter plumage into breeding plumage. 55+
were in the waters around the Concrete Ship along on April 4 and
several hundred more flew when small boats went by offshore.
SHORT-EARED OWLS are still lingering. One was seen at dusk at
Jakes Landing Road on April 3.
Local Nature Notes follow: Spring has sprung and some of our
breeding birds are back in force, despite good numbers of
wintering birds still in evidence. CMBO's Sunset Walk at Stone
Harbor and Nummy's Island on April 2 enjoyed looks at numbers of
paired up and calling OYSTERCATCHERS, OSPREY on their nests, and
thousands upon thousands of LAUGHING GULLS -- a veritable din of
"ha-ha- ha-hahaha" as they circled over their breeding colony in
the marshes behind Nummy's Island. Flocks of GREAT EGRETS & SNOWY
EGRETS are regular now. RED-TAILED HAWKS were seen mating this
week, as were OSPREY. GOLDFINCHES are turning golden. WOODPECKERS
are drumming. Our Belleplain Butterfly and Bird Walks were
entertained by the ringing song of PINE WARBLERS.
SPRING AZURES, tiny bright blue butterflies, are flying now and
especially in evidence along sand roads in Belleplain. If you're
familiar with Spring Azures, look at them closely when they perch
and you can see the underside and try to determine which of the
three spring forms you are seeing: (1) "lucia" has a dark mark in
the center of the hindwing below and has a dark brown margin, (2)
"marginata" lacks the central dark mark but does have the
marginal brown, and (3) "violacea" lack both marks and are quite
white below. Both "lucia" and "marginata" spring azures were
seen on Jakes Landing Road on April 3. Three butterflies winter
as adults locally (MOURNING CLOAK, QUESTION MARK, and COMMA);
both Mourning Cloaks and Question Marks have been seen this week.
WOOD FROGS, SPRING PEEPERS and CHORUS FROGS are calling now.
Wood Frogs sound like distant ducks quacking, peepers peep, and
chorus frogs sound like a finger being run over a comb. A Mud
Turtle was seen on April 3. Red Maples are budding red. Dogwood
trees are budding too. Great Horned Owl chicks are getting
larger. Barred Owls are on territory and hooting their "who
cooks for you -- who cooks for you all." Bald Eagle chicks have
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 office at 609-884-2736 or a send a request for
info to CMBO, P.O. Box 3, Cape May Point, NJ 08212. If you
are in the area, do not hesitate to visit our headquarters
and growing birding bookstore at 707 E. Lake Dr., Cape May
Point. We're open 9-5 every day but Monday.
The Cape May birding hotline [(609) 884-2626] is a service
of Cape May Bird Observatory and includes 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. Thank you for calling; good birding.