Cape May Rare Bird Alert - 9/22/1994
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 Sept. 22, 1994, include: ARCTIC TERN, AMERICAN AVOCET, LARK SPARROW, WESTERN TANAGER, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, WILSON'S PHALAROPE, EURASIAN WIGEON, MARBLED GODWIT, migration news, local nature notes, and announcements.

An adult ARCTIC TERN was a brief fly-by at the Cape May Point State Park pavilion today, Sept. 22, in an easterly gale. It was part of a large movement of hundreds of COMMON TERNS, FORSTER'S TERNS, and ROYAL TERNS. Five AMERICAN AVOCETS were also brief flyby's at the Hawk Watch Sept. 16; the birds were headed due east. A LARK SPARROW was present in the dunes at the Concrete Ship for several days, last reported Sept. 18.

A WESTERN TANAGER was seen at Higbee Beach Sept. 20. This is the third Western Tanager report in the last two-and-a-half weeks and may represent the same bird, as all reports were of a female type. A CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was reported from Hidden Valley Ranch on Sept. 19. A WILSON'S PHALAROPE was seen behind the dike at Higbee Beach on Sept. 21, and may still be present; it was one of the few Wilson's Phalaropes reported this season.

A EURASIAN WIGEON continues to be seen in Bunker Pond in front of the hawk watch, while one or two MARBLED GODWITS are being seen in the Intracoastal Waterway by the Jersey Cape Nature Excursions backbay tourboat.

The Cape May Hawk Watch had a fine week; over 5200 raptors were counted on Sept. 18 and 19. On Sept. 18, over 300 MERLINS were counted, while on Sept. 19 eight BALD EAGLES were seen. This year's count of 57 BALD EAGLES so far equals the total count for 1993, and is within reach of the record of 86 set in 1992.

Passerine highlights this week included several reports of PHILADELPHIA VIREO, two LINCOLN'S SPARROWS, HOODED WARBLER, and SOLITARY VIREO at Higbee Beach on Sept. 18; the season's first YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER was also there the same day.

BROWN PELICANS have been frequenting the surf off the State Park this week, with 15 birds present Sept. 21. Five BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS were seen on the beach at South Cape May Meadows on Sept. 16, while one was seen from the dike at Higbee also Sept. 16. Two LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS were in the South Cape May meadows Sept. 20. The first BONAPARTE'S GULLS were seen this week , with one at Cape May Harbor Sept. 21, and one at the Concrete Ship the same date. AMERICAN BITTERNS were fly-by's at the Beanery on Sept. 18, and at the Meadows Sept. 19.

Local nature notes: A major migration of dragonflies passed through the area on Sunday evening, Sept. 18. From 5:15 to 7 PM, Vince Elia observed hundreds of thousands of dragonfiles moving to the northeast down the tree line to Cape May Point. Ninety per cent were GREEN DARNERS. Pat and Clay Sutton were up at East Point in Cumberland County the same evening and noted a similar movement, with thousands and thousands of dragonflies moving north-west up the Delaware Bay. The Suttons observed primarily BLACK-MANTLED GLIDERS and GREEN DARNERS, along with lesser numbers of SPOT-WINGED GLIDERS, VIOLET-MASKED GLIDERS, and BLUE DASHERS. No one is sure where they are going. But Ken Soltesz, the author of CMBO's Dragonfly Checklist, is collecting information on observed migration from hawk watches all over the country.

On the Butterfly front, there was a flyby GULF FRITILLARY at the hawk watch on Sept. 19. OCOLA SKIPPERS finally began appearing at gardens in Cape May Point. This species was the County's 104th species, added last fall when quite a few were seen; they're back. They are rather drab but the elongated forewing should be quite noticeable. LONG-TAILED SKIPPERS continue to be found, including one in CMBO's garden on Sept. 18 and 2 Sept. 19, one in West Cape May, and one in a garden on Sea Grove Ave. CMBO's butterfly walks are finding good numbers and varieties; the fields at Higbee Beach are filled with blooming Goldenrod and have ORANGE SULPHURS, GRAY HAIRSTREAKS, COMMON BUCKEYES, PEARL CRESCENTS, AMERICAN LADIES, and MONARCHS. Other butterflies seen this week include RED-BANDED HAIRSTREAK, WHITE-M HAIRSTREAK, AMERICAN SNOUT, SPICEBUSH SWALLOWTAIL, EASTERN TAILED BLUE, TAWNY EMPEROR, and RED-SPOTTED PURPLES.

DIAMOND-BACKED TERRAPIN young are hatching from eggs laid earlier this year; be alert as you drive roads crossing salt marshes. Hummingbirds really cleared out this week but continue to clean and fill your feeder for late migrants.

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, phone our office 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 (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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