Cape May Rare Bird Alert - 5/29/1997
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 29 include sightings of probable THAYER'S GULL, WHITE PELICAN, ROSEATE TERN, WILSON'S PHALAROPE, MISSISSIPPI KITE, local nature notes, news of our upcoming programs and field trips, and an announcement about the Higbee Beach parking.

A gull showing the characteristics of THAYER'S GULL was seen this week at Thompson's Beach, most recently on May 27. Given the birds faded plumage and their rarity in New Jersey (particularly at this time of year) observers were prudently cautious in drawing absolute conclusions. Three LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS (two second-years and a first year) were also present there.

A WHITE PELICAN has also been present at Thompson's Beach reported most recently on May 28.

A ROSEATE TERN was present in the Cape May point State Park on the evening of May 25, but has not been reported since.

A WILSON'S PHALAROPE was seen in the South Cape May Meadows (SCMM) on both May 24 and 25, but has not been seen since.

Up to five MISSISSIPPI KITES were seen on May 23 over West Cape May with three still present at the Beanery on May 24.

Two SURF SCOTER were present off the State Park on May 24 with one still seen there on the 26th. A few immature NORTHERN GANNET have also been seen off Cape May Point. Purple Sandpipers are still around in good numbers with 65 on Cape May Point on the 24th and 30 there on the 26th. A BONAPARTE'S GULL was at Bunker Pond in the State Park on the 25th. Three BLUE-WINGED TEAL continue in the SCMM and two ROYAL TERNS were there on the 26th.

Passerine highlights included 30+ BOBOLINKS at Hidden Valley Ranch on May 23, GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH, WILSON'S WARBLER, and DICKCISSEL on Cape May Point on the 24th, OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER at Hidden Valley Ranch on the 24th, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Dickcissel on the Point on the 26th, and "LAWRENCE'S" WARBLER at Hidden Valley Ranch on the 27th.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS are very regular now that they are back on territories. A female is regularly coming to the back feeder at CMBO's new center in Goshen and numbers are regular at CMBO's Cape May Point center. If you have feeders, be sure to clean them out thoroughly each week and refill with fresh solution. Otherwise the solution ferments and can be hazardous to hummingbirds.

The State of NJ again closed the Higbee Beach WMA parking lots at the end of New England Road for the summer. Higbee Beach WMA is still open to bird and butterfly watching, but you will have to either walk there or ride your bike or be dropped off.

Good news for HORSESHOE CRABS!!! On May 29th the Governor of NJ declared a complete MORATORIUM on the harvest of Horseshoe Crabs. New Jersey Audubon Society played a key role in this effort and we hope it is not too late. This year, despite stronger regulations for the harvest of horseshoe crabs, researchers noted a drastic drop in the crab population, far fewer eggs, and a near absence of hungry shorebirds. The state's Endangered Species Program in their aerial flights was finding that most of the shorebirds were using Delaware's beaches; in fact, many researchers went across the Bay to Delaware's beaches to study the shorebirds. In 1996, 800,000 Horseshoe Crab were harvested in the Delaware Bay, 600,000 from NJ waters. In 1997 at one site alone 250,000 crabs were harvested in 4 days . . . hence the moratorium!

This Saturday, May 31st, CMBO has scheduled a special boat trip from Cape May to Champagne Island, leaving at 1:30 and returning at 5:00 p.m., to witness the largest nesting colony of Black Skimmers in New Jersey. The island also is home to about 500 pairs of Common Terns & some years one or two pairs of Gull-billed Terns. It also draws in unusual birds. The fee is $30 for members and $40 for nonmembers and space is limited. Be sure to call CMBO at 609-861-0700 to register.

CMBO's new Center for Research & Education in Goshen is now open every day except Tuesday & Wednesday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We're at 600 Route 47 North in Goshen, either 1 mile south of the traffic light at Rt. 657 or 1.7 miles north of the Gulf Station in Goshen. From either direction we are just around a bend. Look for the split rail fence, brand new sign, large parking lot, and big new building beyond.

Local Nature Notes follow: Monarch caterpillars are abundant on Common Milkweed and Butterfly Weed. Some of the caterpillars are full size and about to go into the chrysalis stage and others are newly hatched. There are lots of eggs too. Looks like it's going to be a super year for Monarchs. American Holly's inconspicuous flowers are in full bloom and awfully fragrant. The first Osprey hatched this week on May 27, seen in the back bay areas from the "Skimmer" back bay tour boat. Herring and Great-blacked Back Gulls have also hatched young

CMBO's Spring Program Schedule is packed with fun field trips and workshops. Each day there are one or several different bird walks, butterfly walks, and boat trips. Stop by either center to pick up the spring program schedule with full details.

Special upcoming spring programs include 2 boat trips to "Champagne Island for Terns & Skimmers" (one on May 31 at 1:30 p.m. and another on June 28 at 5:00 p.m.), a "Dragonfly Workshop & Walk" with Bob Barber on June 7, an "Osprey Nests by Boat" trip on June 14 and much more! Pick up a copy of CMBO's spring program schedule for more details on our programs or call CMBO at 609-861-0700 to learn more.

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 new Center for Research & Education at 609-861-0700 or send a request for information to CMBO, 600 Route 47 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210. If you are in the area do not hesitate to visit our 2 birding bookstores. The Northwood Center in Cape May Point at 701 E. Lake Drive in Cape May Point is open DAILY, 10-5. The Center for Research & Education in Goshen is open every day but Tuesday & Wednesday, 9-5.

The Cape May Birding Hotline is a service of New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory and details sightings from Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties and near shore waters. Updates are made on Thursday evenings, more often if warranted. Please report sightings of rare or unusual birds to CMBO at 609-884-2736. Thanks for calling and GOOD BIRDING!

<< 5/22/1997   6/5/1997 >>