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 July 9, 1992, include RUFF, BLACK TERN, SHEARWATERS, POMARINE JAEGER, WILSON'S STORM-PETREL, HUMPBACK WHALE, WHIMBREL, COMMON LOON, N. GANNET, AVOCET, BARN OWL, GREAT CORMORANT, BROWN PELICAN, RED KNOT, BLACK SKIMMER and tern colony news, WILD TURKEY, BLACK VULTURE, VIRGINIA RAIL, BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO, YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, BOBOLINK, BLUE GROSBEAK, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD, and local nature notes featuring results of the two recent Butterfly counts.
A Ruff and a Black Tern in full breeding plumage were in the South Cape May Meadows today, July 9. The Ruff had a white head, and was in with a flock of 10 Greater Yellowlegs.
Capt. Ron Robbins, of the Cape May Whale-watching boat, "Holiday," continues to have success finding whales and seabirds. On July 2, the boat enjoyed 5 Greater and 4 Sooty Shearwaters, one Pomarine Jaeger, 12 Wilson's Storm-Petrel, and 5-9 Humpback Whales. On July 3, 8-9 Humpback Whales, 2-3 Greater Shearwaters, 1 adult Gannet, 20+ Wilson's Storm-Petrel, and a female Black Scoter were seen about 5 miles off Cape May. On July 8, the boat found 3 Humpback Whales only 5 miles off Cape May but noted that shearwaters had not been seen for four days. The "Holiday" sails every day for whale-watching, 1 pm - 5 pm and again 6 pm - 9 pm. For details call 609 898 0055.
On June 29 fishing boats about 6 miles off Cape May recorded 4 species of shearwaters: Greater, Sooty, Manx, and Cory's. On July 8 a boat 2-3 miles off Cape May came upon a batch of Wilson's Storm-Petrels totalling 65 birds resting on the water. Wilson's Storm-Petrels are still being seen from land in ones and twos by observers scanning offshore toward the mouth of the Delaware Bay.
Three Whimbrels, along with 3 Royal Terns, one Com. Loon in breeding plumage, and an imm. N. Gannet were seen from the Concrete Ship on July 4. As of July 4, one Avocet was still being seen at Brigantine (Forsythe) NWR, and possibly all 14 are still there. The Barn Owl family using the old hack tower at Brigantine now have young; all were seen on July 9. The hack tower is visible from the auto tour route once you've rounded the impoundments and come to the fields.
An imm. Great Cormorant was seen at Higbee's Beach on July 6. Brown Pelican reports have slowed down, not because they've disappeared, but because people are beginning to take them for granted. A flock fo 51 Brown Pelicans was noted as it passed off Wildwood heading north toward Hereford Inlet on July 7. Five were seen on a sandbar at Reed's Beach on July 3, and 3 flew by the South Cape May Meadows on July 7.
A boat trip to Champagne Island, the sand bar in Hereford Inlet between Stone Harbor and N. Wildwood, on July 3, found 2 Red Knots, 25 Sanderlings, 6 Semipalmated Sandpipers, and 1 possible Western Sandpiper, along with 36 Brown Pelicans and 3 Royal Terns. This sandbar has one of the best nesting colonies of Black Skimmers and Terns as well. There are about 700 Black Skimmers, and their young were in evidence on July 3. There are about 250 Common Terns, with about 100 active nests, and chicks were in evidence on July 3.
Two WILD TURKEYS were seen this week, one along Rt. 47 just south of the Leesburg State Prison, on July 5; and the other on July 4 north of Eldora and east of Rt. 47 on Motts Landing Rd. A Black Vulture was seen over Bear Swamp East, in Cumberland Cty., on July 5.
The Virginia Rail family in the South Cape May Meadows has been seen repeatedly along the central trail, in the last pond on the right, before the dune crossover. The birds are very secretive, so keep an eye on the dense grasses at the back edge of the pond. The two adult and up to six "furry" black young have been seen this past week.
Fall Migration has begun in earnest. We're seeing Yellowlegs and Dowitcher in the South Cape May Meadows, daily, and the first Bobolinks passed over this past week giving their distinctive call. A Higbee Beach birdwalk on July 6 produced a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, male Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted Chat, and an assortment of butterflies and dragonflies. Other signs of movement include the Black-billed Cuckoo in the woods outside CMBO Headquarters on July 7; and a Red-headed Woodpecker, seen on July 7 at Pomona, near the Stockton State College Campus. A Blackpoll Warbler washed up on the beachfront and was seen July 1 as it was being pulled down into a Ghost Crab burrow.
Local nature notes: Young Orchard Orioles fledged this week, and were all over Belleplain State Forest and Weatherby Rd. in northern Cape May Cty., July 4. Bottlenose Dolphins have given birth to their young in the Delaware Bay, a major breeding area, and adults and their new young may be seen now swimming and moving through the water in tandem. Honeysuckle has waned, and the first batch of young Hummingbirds has fledged, and are on the wing, making most feeders very active.
Screech Owl young have left the nest in the last few weeks, and can be seen sitting on tree limbs all in a row. Trumpet Creeper, with its bright red flowers, is coming into bloom and attracting hummingbirds. Common Milkweed and Butterfly-weed are in full bloom and are good places to look for Hairstreak Butterflies. Elderberry and Queen Anne's Lace are in full bloom, as is Yarrow. A Privet bush in full bloom along one of the trails in Higbee's beach was adorned with many Red Admirals, and one Painted Lady butterfly on July 5.
The Belleplain Butterfly Count on July 4 discovered 40 species of butterflies but low numbers of just about everything, and not nearly the diversity of 1990 when this count saw 51 species. However, one Giant Cloudless Sulfur, 152 Bog Coppers, Gray, Coral, Banded, and Striped Hairstreaks, one Hoary Edge, and 5 Appalachian Eyed Browns made for a rewarding count.
The Cumberland Butterfly Count on July 5 also had all the Hairstreaks, as well as a Hoary Edge, a Silver Bordered Fritillary, one Appalachian Eyed Brown, and a total of 39 species. Many areas in the Northeast are lamenting the shortage of butterflies. We'll have to take a hard look at the season as it unfolds to see if the numbers and diversity are still unfolding or if this is the summer that never came for butterflies.
[Program announcements omitted. -LL]
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 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 (email@example.com).] Please report sightings of rare or unusual birds to CMBO at (609) 884-2736. Thank you for calling; good birding.