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 May 13 include sgihtings of BLACK-TAILED GODWIT, WESTERN TANAGER, BLACK-NECKED STILT, LITTLE GULL, COMMON EIDER, and MISSISSIPPI KITE.
On May 15 at midnight, about 50 teams from all over the U.S., Canada, and other points will begin this year's World Series of Birding competition. This 24 hour birdathon will raise money for NJ Audubon'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: The Release and Hold Harmless forms must be signed and returned to Pete Dunne by May 14. Teams that know the location of a raptor nest located solely through the team's own search efforts need not disturb the bird during the World Series. Such intrusion might cause the bird to flush. You need only drive to close proximity of the nest during daylight hours, stop, wait by the car for as long as it would take for all team members to view the nest, and then leave. You don't need to go to the nest. It is against the rules to divulge the location of nesting Threatened or Endangered species, or any species sensitive to intrusion or disturbance. Nightlighting an Endangered species, i.e. Piping Plover on the Nature Conservancy's South Cape May Meadows property, is NOT permitted, and will disqualify a team.
This year's "swap meet" at the Chalfonte Inn in Cape May will be held at 7:30 PM on May 13, for WSB participants who are willing to share their staked-out birds. Brigantine (Forsythe) National Wildlife Refuge has an entry fee. Lyme Disease is a problem in New Jersey; be sure to check yourself for the ticks which carry it. It takes 10-12 hours to transmit the disease once the tick has taken a bite. Anyone not on a team who wishes to attend the WSB Brunch on Sunday must pre-register by calling NJ Audubon's main office at 201 891 1211. Now on with the birds.
A BLACK-TAILED GODWIT was reported from Shell Bay Landing on May 9; the bird was seen only on that day, and follow-up searches failed to turn it up again. Also on that day, a female WESTERN TANAGER was in the state park along the "yellow" trail. A second sighting of a female WESTERN TANAGER was made on May 11 at Cold Spring Campgrounds.
BLACK-NECKED STILTS were reported at 2 locations, also on May 9; 2 were at Goshen Landing Road and 2 were seen along Ocean Drive near Axxelson and Johnson's fish factory. No further reports of either pair was received. A first-winter LITTLE GULL was seen offshore from Cape May Point on May 9, and 2 were in the South Cape May Meadows on May 10. A flyby COMMON EIDER was seen off the point on May 9. The spring's first MISSISSIPPI KITES were seen today, May 13; with 4 birds seen over the Beanery. Although a good landbird flight occurred on May 7, the recent stagnant weather pattern has made recent passerine sightings somewhat patchy, with no real concentrations of birds.
Some lingering waterfowl can still be seen around the point. COMMON LOON has been seen both offshore and migrating overhead. RED-THROATED LOON sightings, however, have dwindled to a very few, with most being seen in the vicinity of the Concrete Ship. An OLDSQUAW has been reported from several sites around the point, from Second Ave. to the Point jetties. Both BLACK SCOTERS & SURF SCOTERS have been reported from Reed's Beach. RED-BREASTED MERGANSER was seen at Second Ave. on May 12. BROWN PELICAN sightings have been few and far between. Eight were seen at the Concrete Ship May 13. PURPLE SANDPIPERS can also be found at that location, and at times around the other jetties at the point.
There were 3 sightings of PARASITIC JAEGER this week; although 2 were seen from the ferry, and the other just before the storm on May 12. As of this hotline, no reports have come in for SOOTY SHEARWATER. As is typical this time of year, ROYAL TERNS have also been difficult to find. Three were seen at Second Ave. on May 12. GULLBILLED TERNS have been reported from both Goshen Landing Road and Shell Bay Landing. Although Higbee Beach has recently undergone another round of "management," both BLUE GROSBEAK and CHAT have been seen and heard there in fair numbers. Apparently some waders are attempting to nest at the Stone Harbor rookery; however, many birds have dispersed to other locations. One such location is on Bayberry Drive, off Stone Harbor Blvd., behind Kindall Car Sales.
Some final words of advice to WSB participants. Don't overextend yourselves; we want to continue our record of happy endings to this event. Keep your speed limit within safe 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, and see you at the finish line.
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.