You have reached the Cape May Birding Hotline, a service of
the New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory.
Highlights of the week ending May 25, 1995, include: RUFF,
MISSISSIPPI KITE, SOOTY SHEARWATER, RED-NECKED PHALAROPE,
BLACK-NECKED STILT, WHITE-WINGED TERN in Delaware, news of
spring migrants, an announcement about Higbee Beach, local
A RUFF in breeding plumage was discovered May 18 at Higbee
Beach, in the impoundment visible from the dike reached via
the road to the jetty. It reappeared on May 19 in the same
area and was present until the morning of May 22, but has
not been reported since. The bird had a gold head, black
ruff, and rich brown and gold back. The dike also held a
STILT SANDPIPER and up to 5 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS.
MISSISSIPPI KITES were in evidence during the early part of
the week around the Point, with up to 3 seen together;
there have been no reports since May 22 however. SOOTY
SHEARWATERS were seen from shore off Cape May Point on both
May 24 and 25. BROWN PELICANS have also been seen
periodically and the mini-pelagic trip on the Audubon
Spring Weekend had 5 PARASITIC JAEGERS offshore. Up to 6
BLACK TERNS were at the Cape May Ferry terminal on May 20.
Brigantine hosted a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE on May 19 in the
west pool on the north side; and 2 BLACK-NECKED STILTS were
at Brig on May 22. A WHITE-WINGED TERN was found at Bombay
Hook in Delaware on May 19; it was at Bear Swamp.
The Delaware Bay shorebird gathering is in full swing.
Thousands of RED KNOT, RUDDY TURNSTONE, and SANDERLING in
near- or full-breeding plumage are here en masse. Reed's
Beach is one of the best viewing beaches; it has official
viewing platforms, good signage, weekend wardens, and
specially arranged parking at the Marina at the end of
Reed's Beach Road. The $1 parking fee helps build good will
and promotes ecotourism. Through June 3, CMBO is offering
daily naturalist-led field trips to witness this
phenomenon. Call CMBO for information on field trips to
view the shorebirds in the next two weeks at (609)
WARBLER migration was good early in the week, but slowed
down considerably and the peak has now passed. Some
highlights this week included WILSON'S WARBLER and MOURNING
WARBLER at Higbee Beach on May 20. Other passerine
highlights this week were a RED-HEADED WOODPECKER at Higbee
on May 22, and a GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH at Cape May Point May
The PIPING PLOVERS which breed in the Nature Conservancy
sanctuary we call the Meadows are experiencing one of their
best years, with 4 or 5 pairs present. Their nests are on
the open beach and are very vulnerable to disturbance.
LEAST TERNS are also setting up territories there.
RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS are again breeding in the Cape May
County Park on Rt. 9 just north of the town of Cape May
Court House. They nest in the oak trees with holes, across
the road from the Zoo.
Many of the breeding birds are in at Belleplain State
Forest, like YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, BLACK-AND-WHITE
WARBLER, PRAIRIE WARBLER, PINE WARBLER, PROTHONOTARY
WARBLER, HOODED WARBLER, N. PARULA, WORM-EATING WARBLER, &
BLUE-WINGED WARBLER. Also present, LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH,
OVENBIRD, GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER,
RED-EYED VIREO, SCARLET TANAGER and SUMMER TANAGER. Pine
Swamp Road, Sunset Road, and Cedar Bridge Road are good
places to see these species.
The pine stands along Jake's Landing Road are good for
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLERS which breed there. The salt marsh
habitat at the end of the road attracts a number of
breeding birds like SEASIDE SPARROW, NORTHERN HARRIER, &
The State of New Jersey has closed Higbee's Beach parking
lots for the summer. This does not mean that Higbee is
closed, just the parking lots. You can still bird and
butterfly the area- but you must be dropped off, or ride a
bike, or park at the Hidden Valley parking lot further
along New England Road. The parking lot closures are the
state's attempt to address illicit activities that occur
there during warm summer months.
Local nature notes follow. Belleplain State Forest is
beautiful now, Mountain Laurel is just coming into bloom
and lines many of the roadways. During the May 20-21 Spring
Weekend, many observers noted migration or immigration of
butterflies involving QUESTION MARKS, COMMAS, MOURNING
CLOAKS, & RED ADMIRALS. A total of 35 species of
butterflies were noted in the County and as far north as
The weekend marked the emergence of the first SOUTHERN
CLOUDYWINGS, LEAST SKIPPERS, and ZABULON SKIPPERS, as well
as the first movement north of CLOUDED SULPHUR, AMERICAN
SNOUT, and SACHEM. Some of the spring specialties were
still flying, such as BROWN ELFIN, PINE ELFIN, & FROSTED
ELFIN, FALCATE ORANGE-TIP, & COBWEB SKIPPER. A CMBO
butterly walk at Jakes Landing on May 24 discovered numbers
of MONARCH eggs and a few tiny caterpillars on Common
Milkweed, as well as 100+ webbed-together leaves on very
young thistle plants; these house the caterpillar stage of
PAINTED LADY butterflies, which as adults were scarce over
the spring weekend.
Bob Barber, author of the study of Cumberland County's
Dragonflies, discovered yet another new species for the
list on May 21: a BANNER CLUB-TAIL. This rare dragonfly is
only known from 4 sites in New Jersey, and is now gone from
2 of those. Nationwide, it is only found in 5 states, with
most sightings occurring in Mississippi.
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. [Compiled by CMBO staff; transcribed by L.
Larson (firstname.lastname@example.org).] Please report
sightings of rare or unusual birds to CMBO at (609)
884-2736. Thank you for calling; good birding.