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Cape May Rare Bird Alert - 5/4/1995
You have reached the Cape May Birding Hotline, a service of the New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. Highlights for the week ending May 4 include sightings of GREAT CORMORANT, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, PARASITIC JAEGER, BROWN PELICAN, EURASIAN GREEN-WINGED TEAL, EURASIAN WIGEON, NORTHERN GANNET, a WORLD SERIES OF BIRDING announcement, news of spring migrants, local nature notes, and announcements.

The 13th World Series of Birding is coming up on May 13. A quick but important note for all teams: the "finish line" will be at the Cape May Point State Park as formerly, not at the Grand Hotel.

The spring shorebird gathering on the Delaware Bay has begun. Horseshoe Crabs began laying early this year, using the full moon tides in mid-April. Shorebirds discovered the early source of food, and on April 29 over 300 shorebirds were seen at Reed's Beach. Seventy-five per cent of them were RED KNOTS, the rest RUDDY TURNSTONES and SANDERLINGS. Some of the birds were in breeding plumage. The Crabs will continue to lay at least through the full moon coming up in the middle of this month, so the birds' feast will continue.

Reed's Beach is one of the best sites to view this phenomenon due to the facilities, including the official viewing platform, signs, weekend Wardens, and specially-arranged parking at the marina at the end of Reed's Beach Road. A $1 parking fee is required; it goes a long way toward good will and promoting ecotourism.

The Cape May Bird Observatory will be offering a number of naturalist-led field trips to Reed's Beach, May 26-June 3. Call to register.

Three GREAT CORMORANTS were seen April 28 on Champagne Island, the sand bar in Hereford Inlet just south of Stone Harbor Point. On May 3, this island held 5 pair of nesting AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS. One nest had 2 eggs and a hatched chick; another had chicks just hatching out.

A first-winter LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was seen April 28 on Nummy's Island, near the "free" bridge just south of Stone Harbor. A dark-morph and a light-morph PARASITIC JAEGER were seen this past week by observers scanning offshore from the Cape May Meadows and from Cape May Point. A BROWN PELICAN was seen April 30 off Cape May Point.

A EURASIAN GREEN-WINGED TEAL was seen APril 29 in the ponds along Ocean Drive north of Cape May. A pair of EURASIAN WIGEON was seen May 1 in Fishing Creek Marsh, also known as Cape May County Park south, visible from Bayshore Rd just north of the Villas. NORTHERN GANNETS are still migrating by; observers on May 4 on the Cape May-Lewes ferry had excellent looks as they crossed the Delaware Bay. RED-THROATED LOONS are still being seen from the beachfronts and Second Ave. jetty and the Meadows. The back-bay waters still hold a number of breeding-plumage COMMON LOONS.

Some spring arrivals this week include LEAST TERN on April 28; both BLACK-BILLED CUCKOOS and YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOOS on May 1; and BLACK SKIMMERS on April 30. BOBOLINKS were heard May 3 over Higbee beach. ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS visited sunflower feeders in GOshen May 2 to 4, and a COMMON NIGHTHAWK was at Higbee's Beach April 29.

Six RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS were in Cape May County Park, on Rt. 9 in Cape May Court House, April 29. Three YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS were in Avalon, at 71d street and Dune Avenue, on April 29. Many of the breeding birds are in at Belleplain State Forest: YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, BLACK-AND-WHITE, PRAIRIE WARBLER, PINE WARBLER, PROTHONOTARY, PARULA, WORM-EATING, and BLUE-WINGED WARBLERS were all reported this week, along with LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH, OVENBIRD, GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, RED-EYED VIREO, and SCARLET TANAGER. Pine Swamp Road, Sunset Road, and Cedar Bridge Road are all good spots to explore. Pick up a map at the office on Rt. 550. The pine grove along Jakes Landing Road is also good for YELLOW-THROATED WARBLERS.

At Higbee Beach, migrants are coming through; many of the breeding birds are already on territory including BLUE GROSBEAK, INDIGO BUNTING, and YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT. Hidden Valley Ranch has many of the same.

WHIMBREL are migrating through. An excellent place to find them feeding is in the salt marshes of Shell Bay Landing. To get there, take the Parkway to the traffic light at Exit 9. Go east out Shell Bay Landing Rd. to the end. Scan the salt marshes - up to 60 Whimbrels have been present this week.

Local nature notes: Twelve species of butterflies were found on CMBO's May 3 butterfly walk, including FALCATE ORANGE-TIP, HENRY'S ELFIN, and JUVENAL'S DUSKY-WING.

Hundreds of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS are migrating over in large floppy formations. Some can be found swimming in the Cape May Harbor; it's a good opportunity to see their double crests.

OSPREY are nesting and have begun to lay eggs. BALD EAGLES have sizable eaglets to feed now. GREAT HORNED owlets are getting quite large now, and will soon begin to "branch" near the nest as they grow flight feathers.

SHADBUSH and BEACH PLUMS are in full bloom now. RED MAPLE trees are bright red, both buds and seeds, right now.

[program announcements omitted] Fine print: 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, phone our office or write to CMBO, PO Box 3, Cape May Point, NJ 08212. If you're in the area please stop by our headquarters at 707 East Lake Drive, Cape May Point.

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 (llarson@pucc.princeton.edu).] Please report sightings of rare or unusual birds to CMBO at (609) 884-2736. Thank you for calling; good birding.

 
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