Cape May Rare Bird Alert - 7/20/1995
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 July 20 1995 include sightings of WILSON'S PHALAROPE, WILSON'S STORM PETREL, SOOTY SHEARWATER, CORY'S SHEARWATER, NORTHERN GANNET, BLACK TERN, GULL-BILLED TERN, LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, CLIFF SWALLOW, announcements, nature notes, etc.

A WILSON'S PHALAROPE was seen on July 16 at Higbee Beach, on the dike. Flocks of BOBOLINKS can be found feeding in the fields at Higbee, as well as in the Hidden Valley fields further up New England Rd. The Higbee Beach parking lot is still closed but you can park at Hidden Valley, or bike or be dropped off at Higbee Beach.

Another WILSON'S PHALAROPE, in breeding plumage, was seen at Brigantine NWR on July 18, about 1/3 down the first [south] dike.

An observer on the Cape May - Lewes Ferry, on July 16, saw about 40 WILSON'S STORM PETRELS, a NORTHERN GANNET, 14 SCOTERS, & a COMMON LOON. Three sea turtles were also seen that day, one of them identifiable as a Leatherback.

The Avalon Sea Watch at the north end of Avalon began part time on July 14. Dave Ward had a super day there on July 16, with a WILSON'S STORM PETREL, 2 SOOTY SHEARWATERS, 13 CORY'S SHEARWATERS, one NORTHERN GANNET and 2 BLACK TERNS in alternate plumage. WILSON'S STORM-PETREL is being seen almost daily..

A SORA was seen July 13 and 14 in the South Cape May Meadows on Sunset Blvd. Also there this week were 3 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, 20 LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 450 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, 1 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, 4 WESTERN SANDPIPERS, 2 SOLITARY SANDPIPERS, 1 GULL-BILLED TERN, BOBOLINKS and a CLIFF SWALLOW. On the beach nearby is the LEAST TERN colony, and a new record 12 PAIRS of PIPING PLOVERS. Up to 200 Least Terns were counted July 19, far more than the colony holds, so some are moving. LEAST BITTERN and VIRGINIA RAIL both nested in the meadows; 2 nearly full-grown Virginia Rails were seen there July 19.

Champagne Island, in Hereford Inlet between Wildwood and Stone Harbor, has one of the best beach-nesting bird colonies in the state. As of July 12, it held over 1000 BLACK SKIMMERS, over 1000 COMMON TERNS, and 3 pairs of GULL-BILLED TERNS. Other (non-nesting) birds here included BROWN PELICANS, ROYAL TERNS, WHIMBREL, and migrant shorebirds. The island can be viewed from Nummy's Island, Stone Harbor Point, or North Wildwood; or you can take a boat trip conducted by Jersey Cape Nature Excursions. Call (609) 884-3712 for more information.

The state of NJ has closed the parking lots at Higbee Beach WMA again for the summer. This does not mean that Higbee Beach is closed, just the parking lots. You can still bird and butterfly the area, but you must be dropped off there, ride a bike, or park in the Hidden Valley parking lot further up New England Road and walk down. The parking lot closures are the state's attempt to address illicit activities that occur there during warm summer months.

Local Nature Notes follow.

Butterflies: BRAZILIAN SKIPPER was seen July 14 at Port Norris, as it visited the Rutgers Oyster Research Lab where Bob Barber works. This huge Skipper occaisionally wanders north, and Bob spotted it. A PIPEVINE SWALLOWTAIL visited a butterfly garden in Goshen on July 16. HACKBERRY EMPEROR was at the Hackberry trees at Higbee Beach July 19.

The fall's first COMMON CHECKERED SKIPPER, a southern wanderer, was seen on the Cumberland County butterfly count on July 1, and another was seen near Stow Creek, Salem Co., on July 17. Another immigrant, FIERY SKIPPER, was seen July 19 at Lakehurst Bog, where 3 HARVESTERS were also found July 19.

Four SOUTHERN HAIRSTREAKS were found in Ocean County near Tom's River on July 17; be alert for this very uncommon butterfly.

Blooming butterfly hostplants now include Common Milkweed, Everlasting Pea, Alfalfa, and Butterfly Bush and Bee Balm. Hidden Valley on New England Road, Cape May, was planted as a wildflower meadow this spring. Lots of LEAST SKIPPERS, COMMON SOOTYWINGS, and BROADWINGED SKIPPERS can be found right now around the parking lot there; the Common Milkweed patches in the meadow hold SACHEMS, DUN SKIPPERS, MONARCHS, LEAST SKIPPERS, SULPHUR, SWALLOWTAILS, and no doubt others.

[Program Information Omitted]

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 office at 609-884-2736 or a send a request for info to CMBO, P.O. Box 3, Cape May Point, NJ 08212. If you are in the area, do not hesitate to visit our headquarters and growing birding bookstore at 707 E. Lake Dr., Cape May Point. We're open 9-5 every day but Monday.

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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