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 May 12 include sightings of LECONTE'S SPARROW, SEDGE WREN, LINCOLN'S SPARROW, SWAINSON'S WARBLER, HUDSONIAN GODWIT, MARBLED GODWIT, BLACK-NECKED STILT, RED-NECKED GREBE, STILT SANDPIPER, REEVE at Brigantine and RUFOUS-NECKED STINT in Delaware; tips of other lingering birds and advice for the World Series of Birding participants.
On May 14 at one minute after midnight 51 teams from all over the US, Canada, and Britain will begin this year's World Series of Birding competition. This 24-hour birdathon will raise money for NJ Audubon Society's conservation work in New Jersey, as well as for numerous other conservation groups participating in this event. A few brief announcements to official WSB teams: 1) Brigantine (Forsythe) National Wildlife Refuge has a $3 entrance fee. 2) Lyme disease is a problem in NJ; check yourself for ticks. 3) Be sure to read the new rules sent to each team captain. For instance, using recorded bird call tapes is not permitted, even during scouting. 4) Night-lighting or using artificial light to spotlight nesting birds at night is not permitted. Good luck to all teams; now on with the birding hotline.
A LECONTE'S SPARROW was found at Higbee Beach on May 8, in the third field up from the parking lot. It was reported again on May 9, but has not been reported since. With the LECONTE'S SPARROW in that field on both May 8 and 9 were a SEDGE WREN & a LINCOLN'S SPARROW. The SWAINSON'S WARBLER that has taken up residence across from the new parking lot at Higbee Beach was reported as recently as May 11. HUDSONIAN GODWITS were reported from 2 locations this week: on May 7, one was seen on Nummy Island; and on May 10, one was seen briefly in the South Cape May meadows.
A MARBLED GODWIT is still present along Ocean Drive behind the Two Mile Inn. Apparently it has been seen from land from vantage points along Ocean Drive. Another MARBLED GODWIT was reported from Reed's Beach on May 10. It was seen across Bidwell's Creek from the jetty. Two RED-NECKED GREBES were seen at the toll bridge on Ocean Drive as recently as May 10. A check of the area today did not produce a sighting but they may still be in the area.
The BLACK-NECKED STILT reported from Macnamara State Wildlife Management Area on May 7 has not been reported since. A STILT SANDPIPER was seen along Ocean Drive on May 10. A REEVE was seen at Brigantine on May 8. A RUFOUS- NECKED STINT is present in Delaware at Woodland Beach near Bombay Hook.
Belleplain State Park is again good for southern breeders, like SUMMER TANAGER, PROTHONOTARY WARBLER, HOODED WARBLER, WORM-EATING WARBLER, & YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, ACADIAN FLYCATCHER, RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, & LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH. Good roads to explore are Pine Swamp Road, Sunset Road, New Bridge Road, and Cedar Bridge Road.
Other general bird notes helpful to WSB teams include: A PIED-BILLED GREBE is being seen regularly on Lily Lake along with a countable Snow Goose. There is an uncountable resident Snow Goose on the lake as well, so be careful. RED-BREASTED MERGANSER had been seen regularly on Bunker Pond, but has not been seen in the last few days. RED-THROATED LOONS have become very scarce. One was seen off the State Park on May 11, while another was near the toll bridge along Ocean Drive on May 10. A female SURF SCOTER has also been reported from the toll bridge this week.
GREAT CORMORANTS have been seen with some consistency at the Concrete Ship but are not always present. NORTHERN GANNET, mainly immatures, have been seen in ones and twos off the point on most days this week. The Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary has been mainly abandoned by the herons and egrets; the birds have scattered to other nearby sites, for instance, Stone Harbor Point now holds a good population of birds. BLUE-WINGED TEAL are being seen regularly at the South Cape May Meadows, along with up to 5 GADWALL. The beach at South Cape May also has at least 2 pairs of PIPING PLOVER. A female BUFFLEHEAD has been present in the Cape May Harbor, although no recent reports have been received.
KENTUCKY WARBLERS are along Rt. 618 in Cape May County, at the guard rail. KILLDEER, HORNED LARK, & MEADOWLARK are all likely at the Cape May County Airport, which is south-west of Rio Grande and can be reached via Breakwater Road. The commuter flight parking lot is a good vantage point. Higbee Beach has a number of nesting YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, BLUE GROSBEAK, INDIGO BUNTING, and WHITE-EYED VIREOS, and migrants are likely if the predicted cold front comes through.
Some final words of advice to World Series of Birding participants. Don't over extend yourself. We want to keep up our record of happy endings to this event. Keep your speed limit within safe and tolerant specs and please don't behave in a manner that reflects negatively on this event or birding in general. Please don't give birding a bad name. And finally, good luck; see you at the finish line.