You have reached the Cape May birding hotline. Highlights of the week ending Sept. 17 include SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER, AM. WHITE PELICAN, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, HUDSONIAN GODWIT, UPLAND SANDPIPER, JAEGERS and SHEARWATERS, BRIDLED TERN, news of the hawk flight with GOSHAWKS, BALD EAGLES, and PEREGRINES, GREAT CORMORANT, BLACK TERN, BROWN PELICAN, a major landbird push, news of shorebirds from Bombay Hook including CURLEW SANDPIPERS and BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS, an announcement about local access to the Beanery and Hidden Valley, nature notes and news of CMBO's programs.
A little bit about access first. The State of NJ has just completed a parking lot and trail access to Hidden Valley. Purchased originally by the Nature Conservancy and transferred to NJ, Hidden Valley is now part of Higbee's Beach Wildlife Management Area. Access is recent and comes from the new parking lot on New England Rd., not from the Hidden Valley Ranch entrance on Bayshore Rd. A trail takes you from the new parking lot along the edge of the field, and, following red blazes, then takes you through the woods and into the interior of Hidden Valley and Pond Creek Marsh. Once in the interior of Hidden Valley Ranch, the area is open to birding, but the buildings and horse ring are not open to birding. This area is leased by the riding academy. So follow the red-blazed trail but please do not stray from it.
Another area newly available to birders is the Beanery. The old access down the railroad tracks was a public right-of-way. It became impenetrable when the Magnesite plant closed and no longer used the railroad tracks. The farmers who own the land along the railroad tracks, when approached by CMBO, said that birders were welcome to bird the field edges. But please respect plantings and remain on the edges, do not stroll across the fields. Parking should not block access to the machinery, since they are actively using the machines for the lima bean crop. A sizable parking area is available close to the tracks. Please use it and not the roadside near the machinery, otherwise you'll block the trucks.
Now, on with the sightings of the week. A SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER was discovered on Sept. 16 at Brigantine NWR near map coordinate B18. If you see this bird please report sightings to this office so we may provide updates. An AM. WHITE PELICAN soared over Hidden Valley on Sept. 12, but has not been reported since. An adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was seen Sept. 15 at the Concrete Ship. On Sept. 12 a HUDSONIAN GODWIT made several passes over the South Cape May Meadows and then migrated on. An UPLAND SANDPIPER was in the Meadows on Sept. 11 near the south end of the east trail.
A pelagic trip on Sept. 12 traveled to the Baltimore Canyon, and enjoyed one LONG-TAILED JAEGER, one AUDUBON'S SHEARWATER, several CORY'S and GREATER SHEARWATERS, one BRIDLED TERN, and a number of POMARINE JAEGERS.
The largest hawk flight so far this fall passed on Sept. 11, with over 1000 hawks; an 800+ hawkflight passed the next day, and each day since has been very good. BALD EAGLES continue to entertain hawkwatchers - 9 migrated over this week, with one adult. Two N. GOSHAWKS were seen on Sept. 16; this is an early date, and bodes well for the ten-year invasion due to happen this fall. Lots of SHARPSHINNED HAWKS and good numbers of COOPER'S HAWKS have been seen this week. PEREGRINES were seen each day this week, with high counts of six on the 12th and 7 on the 15th.
GREAT CORMORANTS are being seen from Sunset Beach and the State Park. Huge numbers of ROYAL TERNS are being seen off Cape May Point as they fly in and out of the Delaware Bay. Over 150 were counted on Sept. 15. One CASPIAN TERN was seen at Higbee's Beach on Sept. 11. A BLACK TERN flew in from the bay on Sept. 15, and briefly landed on one of Cape May Point's jetties. BROWN PELICANS continue to "parade" up and down the beach front; 9 were seen on the 13th flying high over Cape May Point; 15 were seen on the 15th at Stone Harbor Point.
A major land-bird flight was enjoyed at Higbee's Beach the morning of Saturday, Sept. 12. At least 24 species of warblers were counted including 1000 BLACK-THROATED BLUES, 800 AM. REDSTARTS, 250 N. PARULAS, 20 BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLERS, and smaller numbers of many others. The flight on the 12th also included over 100 ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, over 100 SCARLET TANAGERS, 60+ N. ORIOLES, 1 DICKCISSEL, five species of VIREOS with 70 RED-EYES, 8 WARBLING, 13 PHILADELPHIA, 1 SOLITARY, and 3 YELLOW-THROATED VIREOS. Both NUTHATCHES, over 50 VEERIES, 1 SWAINSON'S THRUSH, and 1 RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, among other things. Other land bird highlights of the 12th include 5 SAVANNAH SPARROWS in the fields off New England Rd., a VESPER SPARROW in the area behind the cove at the 2d Ave. Jetty. Some land birds lingered over to the 13th, but it has been relatively quiet since. That will change as soon as the next front comes through.
A YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER was seen on New England Rd. on Sept. 13. A WHIPPOORWILL was discovered roosting at Hidden Valley on Sept. 12. Six COM. NIGHTHAWKS were hawking insects over Cape May Point State Park on Sept. 12, and being chased themselves by MERLINS. An AM. BITTERN was in the S. Cape May Meadows on Sept. 12, and the Meadows also hold a fair number of egrets feeding on the fish being concentrated as the water level drops.
Bombay Hook NWR in Delaware was hot for shorebirds on Sept. 15. Found there were 2000 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, 2000 DOWITCHERS, 2 WILSON'S PHALAROPES, 1 BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS, 15 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, 1 CURLEW SANDPIPER, 1 DUNLIN, 1000 WESTERN SANDPIPER, 30 STILT SANDPIPERS, 2 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS, 120 AM. AVOCETS, 2 BLACK-NECKED STILTS, 1 AM. GOLDEN PLOVER, and an adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL.
NIGHT-HERONS are on the move. At 7 PM on Sept. 12, 5 gathered over Lily Lake from different points of the compass and began circling higher and higher to migrate over the bay. While watching them, a flock of 34 NIGHT-HERONS was detected passing high overhead.
Local nature notes follow. Sea Lavender is in bloom on the salt marshes; Dogwood and Sassafras fruits are ripe and attracting migrants; Seaside Goldenrod is just coming into bloom; Tall or Giant Sunflowers are in bloom; Groundsel Tree is in bloom - it's a bush with white fluffy flowers.
A major dragonfly migration passed over Cape May Point the evening of Sept. 11. It began at 3:30 pm with several hundred dragonflies per minute, and by 5 PM waves of dragonflies were passing over, with high counts of 1200 per minute. Eight species were involved but the commonest was Green Darner. It was spectacular. Sachem Butterflies have suddenly made an appearance; this southern species immigrates north in the fall. Monarchs have been scarce, but we expected that, with a major die-off of 75% of the population on the wintering grounds in Mexico due to cold temperatures. Finally on Sept. 12 a push of several hundred Monarchs was noted.
[Program announcements omitted. -LL]
Cape May Bird Observatory is a research and conservation unit of the New Jersey Audubon Society. 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.