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 8 include new spring arrivals, waterbird flights, Upland Sandpiper, LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, VESPER SPARROW, YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD.
We'll start this tape with the bad news. For anyone out there who hasn't yet seen Cape May's wintering ROCK WREN, it has not been reported since March 28. The bird has been absent at times for as long as ten days, so it may return. Hopefully it will.
The best spring waterbird flight in recent memory was observed from the dunes at the South Cape May Meadows on the 2d. Highlights of this flight were 150 RED-THROATED LOONS, 35 HORNED GREBES, 2000+ SCOTERS (Blacks and Surfs), and a smattering of OLDSQUAW. Three hundred FORSTER'S TERNS and 200 N. GANNETS (all but 2 of which were adults) were seen flying by the Meadows on the 6th. In excess of 50 RED-THROATED LOONS and many N. GANNETS, again all adults, were viewed from the jetty at Alexander Ave. in Cape May Point on Apr. 7. Other waterbirds of note were an AMERICAN BITTERN at S. Cape May Meadows on the Apr. 2, a TRICOLORED HERON on Stone Harbor Blvd. on Apr. 6, 2 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS among a few SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS and some 50 YELLOWLEGS, at Goshen on Apr. 4 and 6, and 4 UPLAND SANDPIPERS on the field on the southwest corner of New England and Bayshore Rds. on Apr. 7.
The first reasonably large passerine flight of spring happened on the night of the 3d. Observers at Higbee Beach found 30+ E. PHOEBES, 15 BROWN THRASHERS, 8 HERMIT THRUSHES, and a FOX SPARROW. Also at Higbees on the 4th was the YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT that overwintered there. The Chat was found again on the 7th. The COMMON YELLOWTHROAT that wintered at the Hidden Valley Ranch was seen again on the 5th, along with 3 PALM WARBLERS.
Recent passerine arrivals include VESPER SPARROW, a rare spring migrant in Cape May, at the Meadows on Apr. 2; a PINE WARBLER at Higbee's Beach on the same day; 2 YELLOW-THROATED WARBLERS at Belleplain State Forest on Apr. 8; a LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH at Higbee's Beach and 2 more at Belleplain, all on Aprl 8. Also at Belleplain State Forest, more than 30 PINE WARBLERS were heard singing in just a few hours of birding on Apr. 8. To round out the passerine notes, a YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD was seen at a feeder in Goshen on Apr. 3, but not since.
Farther afield, the totals from the Sandy Hook hawk watch for the week 31 March - 6 April was 504 individuals. Highlights were 42 OSPREY, 35 COOPERS HAWKS, 1 N. GOSHAWK, 35 RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS, 16 MERLINS, AND 2 PEREGRINES. One Reeve was observed at Pedricktown on Apr. 5; also at Pedricktown on that day, 2600 SNOW GEESE migrating north high overhead; 45+ PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, 100+ YELLOWLEGS of both species; and a small flight of northbound raptors, including 2 N. HARRIERS, 3 COOPER'S, and a RED-SHOULDERED HAWK.
Six BREWER'S BLACKBIRDS, 4 males and 2 females, were seen in a field near the intersection of Amwellbury and Tillbury Rds., west of Salem, on Apr. 5. Other highlights from up the Delaware were 400 Glossy Ibis near Salem on Apr. 4; a breeding plumage COM. BLACK-HEADED GULL at the Salem Nuclear Power Plant on Apr. 5; and the first COM. MOORHEN of the season at Greenwich on the 5th.
Now the nature notes. Due to the lack of typical spring weather of late, very few butterflies have been noted. Only 3 species have been reported so far this spring, and all in very low numbers. Two Mourning Cloaks, 1 Question Mark, and 12 Spring Azures. The Azures were recently emerged and were seen the morning of the 8th at Belleplain State Forest. This is usually the first species of butterfly seen in the spring that does not overwinter as an adult. Other species that should be seen soon with more seasonable temperatures this weekend include Orange Sulfur, Cabbage White, Henry's Elphin, ? Elphin, Gray Hairstreak, Eastern Tailed Blue, Red Admiral, and ? Dusky-wing.
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 April 10-11, 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.