You have reached the Cape May birding hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. Highlights of the week ending July 8 include: WHITE-FACED STORM-PETREL, WILSON'S STORM-PETREL, CORY'S SHEARWATER, GULL-BILLED, SANDWICH and ROSEATE TERNS, MARBLED GODWIT, and lots of returning shorebirds; BROWN PELICAN, an announcement about Higbee's Beach, and news of upcoming programs.
It has been a good week for pelagic birds. On July 6, a WHITE-FACED STORM-PETREL was seen, along with 9 WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS, in the middle of Delaware Bay, seen from the Cape May - Lewes Ferry. The Cape May whale watch boat, now offering daily whale-watching trips from 1 to 5 PM, has been great for pelagic birds and Bottlenosed Dolphins, but quiet for whales. Sightings include 2 CORY'S SHEARWATERS and 6 WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS on July 7; and over 30 WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS and 10 CORY'S SHEARWATERS on July 6. For information and reservations on this boat, call (609) 898-0055.
The other birding hotspot this week has been the South Cape May Meadows, with 2 GULL-BILLED TERNS on July 7, one SANDWICH TERN on July 6, and one first-year ROSEATE TERN on July 7; along with several hundred FORSTER'S TERNS and their young, and some COMMON TERNS mixed in. Two BLACK SKIMMERS can be seen daily, as they skim through the pond for food.
The heat and rainless conditions of the past 3 weeks have resulted in a severe drop of water levels in the Meadows, attracting returning shorebirds. Yet despite the heat and summer conditions it is fall; many shorebirds are back already from the arctic tundra where they bred. The first SEMIPALMATED PLOVER was seen on July 6, and 2 were there on July 7. Each day the numbers will build. Twenty-eight SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, 4 LEAST SANDPIPERS, and 3 western WILLETS were seen in the Meadows on July 3; a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER on July 5; a PECTORAL SANDPIPER and 2 MARBLED GODWIT on July 6; and a good assortment of DOWITCHERS, YELLOWLEGS, and PEEP on July 7.The PIPING PLOVER and LEAST TERN colony at the Meadows is in full swing. On July 6-7, the PIPING PLOVER numbers grew, probably individuals from the north already migrating. LEAST TERN chicks were seen July 1.
BROWN PELICAN reports have been scarce this summer, but 13 were seen July 7 flying by the Meadows. RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH reports came in from Cape May Point on July 5 and 6, probably migrants. The first weekly Higbee Beach birdwalk on Sunday enjoyed all the regular breeders: YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, BLUE GROSBEAK, INDIGO BUNTING, WHITE-EYED VIREO, CAROLINA WREN, SONG SPARROW, etc. These walks require no preregistration and are held every Sunday at 7:30 AM. They meet at the Higbee Beach parking lot.
CLAPPER RAILS have young now; look for little black furry young. About a dozen were seen in the Jake's Landing parking lot recently, and many have been seen in the back bays, on boat excursions with Jersey Cape Nature Excursions out of Cape May. For more information or to register, call (609) 898 9631 to learn more.
If you have visited Cape May recently, you've probably been surprised to find it nearly impossible to park at Higbee Beach. The main parking lot is closed; but Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area is not closed. There is a parking lot down the road to the right of the main lot, though this is sometimes full of fishermen. If you're concerned about the parking situation at Higbee Beach, call or stop by CMBO to get the addresses and phone numbers where you can write or call to express your concerns.
CMBO will be offering Birdwatching for Beginners, a 2-day course, scheduled for July 24-25, and each month thereafter. Shorebird ID workshops and walks are scheduled for July 10, 24 and 31. Higbee Beach Sunday morning birdwalks began July 4. Regular weekly Bird Walks for Beginners began July 7. To learn more about these and other CMBO programs and field trips, write to CMBO, PO Box 3, Cape May Point, NJ, 08212, or call (609) 884-2736.
The Cape May birding hotline 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. Please report sightings of rare or unusual birds to CMBO at (609) 884-2736. Thanks for calling; good birding.