Cape May Rare Bird Alert - 6/25/1992
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 June 25, 1992, include AVOCETS, ROYAL TERN and ROSEATE TERNS, HUMPBACK and FIN WHALES, SHEARWATERS, GANNETS, SURF SCOTERS, WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS, JAEGERS, SEALS, COMMON LOON, OLDSQUAW, BALD EAGLE, RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD, PIPING PLOVER, CLAPPER RAIL, VIRGINIA RAIL, LEAST BITTERN, arriving shorebirds, BROWN PELICANS, local nature notes, and news of upcoming programs.

Fourteen AVOCETS continue to be seen at Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge, and were reported as recently as June 22. They seem to be regular along the south dike. Also at Brigantine, the BARN OWLS are again using the old Peregrine hack box at the end of the auto tour route. A ROYAL TERN was seen at the Concrete Ship in Cape May on June 20 and 21. A Roseate Tern was at the Cape May Point State Park on June 21.

Captain Ron Robbins of the Cape May whale watch boat "Holiday" continues to have success with whales and seabirds. On June 19, between 2 and 5 miles off Cape May, he reported 5 HUMPBACKS, one FIN WHALE, and 30 Shearwaters including GREATER SHEARWATER, SOOTY SHEARWATER, and CORY'S SHEARWATER.

If you are not up to boating for your seabirds, you might want to try sea watching at dawn along Cape May Point's beach front. By 5:45 birds can be seen as they leave the Delaware Bay and fly by the point. The following observations were made between 5:45 and 9:30 am this week. On June 19 a N. GANNET and a male SURF SCOTER were observed. On June 20, 20-25 WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS were observed along with several flocks of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS totaling 46 birds. On June 21, 6 WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS were recorded. On the 22d, 5 Wilson's, 4 N. GANNETS, 1 SURF SCOTER, and a seal were seen. On the 23d, the flight included 2 JAEGERS (sp.), 3 N. GANNETS, 6 WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS, 1 COM. LOON in breeding plumage, 1 OLDSQUAW, and 64 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS. And on the 25th, the flight included 1 N. GANNET, 5 WILSON'S STORM-PETREL, and 8 CORMORANTS.

Good observation spots for seabird watching include the beach front at the Cape May Point state park, the Concrete Ship, or Poverty Beach at the north end of Cape May.

Young BALD EAGLES born this spring in Florida are already fledged and wandering. This may explain the 3 sightings this week. On June 21, an immature was soaring over Lily Lake in Cape May, and on June 22 a first-year bird was seen over the Cape May Point state park. On June 23, a first-year bird was soaring over Goshen, about 17 miles north of Cape May Point.

Young RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS in Salem County were only about a week away from fledging on June 19. Two nests were found in a yard, only about 150 feet apart. One June 4, 2 nestlings were first observed in a nest about 8 feet off the ground in a White Pine. The second nest was also 8 feet off the ground, and a nestling was first seen there on June 14. Some years in the fall we find active Hummingbird nests in the low-hanging branches over the road to the Cape May canal from Higbee's Beach. These are probably second broods.

Two pairs of PIPING PLOVERS are nesting at the Nature Conservancy's property on Sunset Blvd., known as the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge or the Cape May Meadows. On June 16, the young in the first nest hatched, and the other nest held 4 eggs.

The LEAST TERN colony that had nested here in previous years seems to be located this year on the beach front at the Cape May Coast Guard Station, known as Poverty Beach. This colony is huge and may explain why there are so few Least Terns elsewhere.

BLACK SKIMMER young were just hatching June 16, quite late compared to most years. On June 20, an observer at Jake's Landing enjoyed "a mess of Clapper Rails," including 10 adults and many chicks. They were in a creek on the right side of the road about 100 feet before reaching the parking lot. Jake's Landing Rd. can be reached from Rt. 47, just 1.4 miles north of the WAWA Store in Dennisville, and is an excellent birding spot year round.

VIRGINIA RAILS successfully bred in the Cape May Meadows, despite the three bad storms during the past fall and winter which broke down the protective dunes and flooded the meadows and the state park with salt water. On June 22, a pair and 2 chicks were seen in the meadows. Least Bittern are again breeding at the Cape May Point state park; 2 were in one of the ponds along the red trail on June 25.

On June 25 the Cape May Meadows held 2 LESSER YELLOWLEGS and one SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER, already back from their breeding grounds on the tundra. A COM. LOON in non-breeding plumage lingers in the waters near the Concrete Ship at the end of Sunset Blvd., and was seen there June 25.

BROWN PELICAN sightings continue to come in; this summer the first was seen on May 2. Sightings this week have been in the Cape May Point area. Last week a high count of 130 Pelicans on June 16 was seen at Hereford Inlet on the sand bar between Stone Harbor and North Wildwood; this sand bar may best be viewed from Anglesea Drive in N. Wildwood, or from Nummy's Island, along Ocean Drive just south of Stone Harbor.

Cape May Bird Observatory is a research and conservation 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 at 609-884-2736 or write to CMBO, PO Box 3, Cape May Point, NJ 08212. If you're in the area please stop by our headquarters at 797 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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