CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY AND EVENTS HOTLINE, January 15, 2004
You have reached the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a
service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This
message was prepared on Thursday, January 15. For bird news call the
Cape May Birding Hotline at (609) 898-2473. NJ Audubon's three hotlines
can be read in full on our web site (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on
"Sightings" at the top of any page.
ALERT! It is still DEER HUNTING season! Winter Bow Season continues
till January 31. Birders and naturalists should take precautions and
wear blaze orange (hat or vest) when in the woods in Cape May and
Cumberland Counties. Sundays are safe all over NJ since there is NO
HUNTING on SUNDAYS.
A LONG-EARED OWL, one of our most secretive winter owls, was seen
January 10 on the CMBO "Birding Cape May Point" walk at the Cape May
Point State Park. SHORT-EARED OWLS were seen this week at a number of
locations: 3 at Motts Creek in Atlantic County January 11, 3 at Corbin
City January 9, 3 along the road to East Point in the marsh across from
the Lighthouse on January 8, and 1 at Hansey Creek / Turkey Point
January 11. It has been a good winter for SHORT-EARED OWLS and they are
at all their usual haunts (also including Jakes Landing and Brigantine
NWR). GREAT HORNED OWLS are calling softly, briefly at dawn and dusk.
This will stop abruptly once they lay their eggs, which will be very
soon. If you want to spend 4 days with like-minded owl enthusiasts,
there is still room on CMBO's popular "4-day Workshop for Owls, Hawks,
& Eagles" (January 23-26, 2004) with Pat and Clay Sutton and Ward
Dasey. It has been a very owly winter. Saw-whet, Long-eared, Barn,
Short-eared, Barred, Great Horned, and Screech Owl are all enjoyed most
years during this workshop. CMBO's complete listing of other "2004 Cape
May Birding Workshops" can be seen at New Jersey Audubon's web site at
(with more details added in January and a brochure printed and sent to
members in January):
http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks04.html Another owly
offering is the "All About Owls: Workshop & Field Trip" with Pat Sutton,
offered: Saturday, January 17, and again on Wednesday, January 21
(1:00-5:30 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register for these owl
Since the drastic drop in temperature on January 10, when temperatures
were 4 degrees F. at 5 a.m., AMERICAN WOODCOCK have been easily spotted
along road shoulders and trails. When winter weather hits and the
ground freezes their only hope of survival is to come out onto open,
sunlit edges where they can (hopefully) probe the thawed ground for
earthworms. If you are driving the Garden State Parkway (or any other
road with wide, sunlit, grassy shoulders) be looking for their very
camouflaged and barely moving shapes as they probe down with their long
bills and try to feed and stay alive. A good old-fashioned nature walk
with Mark Garland, "The Wonders of Winter," on Sunday, February 8 (8:30
a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) still has room. Learn how creatures adapt and
survive winter's freezes! Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register.
January 10 and 11 was the Annual Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey. CMBO
again coordinated @ 60 keen volunteer observers to cover southern New
Jersey; additional observers covered the north. Preliminary results
from the NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program follow: 170+ BALD
EAGLES were seen (the second highest total since 176 Bald Eagles were
seen in 1997). The southern part of the state tallied 126 Bald Eagles
(88 adults, 38 immatures); the Delaware Water Gap area tallied 20 (11
adults, 9 immatures); northern reservoirs tallied 24 (11 adults, 13
immatures). 9 GOLDEN EAGLES were seen during this survey, including a
sub-adult at Motts Creek, an adult at Corbin City WMA, and an immature
at Dividing Creek / Bear Swamp in Cumberland County. Observers at
Tuckahoe WMA found a live Mute Swan frozen into the ice on January 10.
By the afternoon an immature Bald Eagle was taking advantage of this
opportunity and feeding on it. 20 Bald Eagles were in the Cohansey River
area during the survey. Activity there was non-stop with adults chasing
off other adults from nearby nests, immatures being chased off by
adults, and clouds of Snow Geese getting hazed by hungry eagles. Adult
Bald Eagles are spending more and more time now near their nests, they
being the second earliest nesting bird. A number of observers watched
adults adding sticks to their nests. "Winter Raptors of the Delaware
Bayshore" is a great way to discover and savor many off-the-beaten path,
raptor-rich areas in Cumberland County with Pat Sutton and a host of
other raptor enthusiasts on Saturday, January 31 (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register while there are still openings!
The Great Egg Harbor River area around the Tuckahoe & Corbin City
impoundments tallied 6 Bald Eagles (4 adults), an adult Golden Eagle, 2
ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS (1 dark and 1 light), 3 Short-eared Owls, and 20
TUNDRA SWANS during the survey, January 10 & 11. An unexpected surprise
on the frozen impoundments on January 11 was a perched LEAST BITTERN.
The emaciated bird was taken to a rehabilitator, it's been eating well,
and will soon be released back at Corbin City WMA. To learn this
complex area sign up for CMBO's field trip to "Tuckahoe and Corbin City
WMAs" with Pat Sutton & Karen Johnson on Sunday, February 15 (2-6
p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register while openings last!
Rough-legged Hawks were also seen on January 10 and 11 at Sea Breeze
(dark bird) and Fortescue (dark bird) along the Delaware Bay in
Cumberland County , and at Motts Creek (1 dark and 2 light birds).
Barnegat Light State Park at the north end of Long Beach Island is
exceptional this winter! 28 HARLEQUIN DUCKS were seen there this week.
Keep in mind, birds can be anywhere alongside the jetty and are often
scattered all the way out to the end. Look for IPSWICH SPARROW on the
jetty. One might all-of-a-sudden appear out of the rock crevices and
just as rapidly disappear back down into the rocks. A few LAPLAND
LONGSPURS have been feeding on the ground and flying from spot to spot
with the local flock of HORNED LARKS or SNOW BUNTINGS. 8 COMMON EIDERS
and a female KING EIDER were seen there this week. The eiders move
around with the tides and may be near or as far away as the distant
jetty on the other side of the inlet. Be patient or visit later in the
day and the tide might bring them closer. The inlet visible from the
Barnegat Light jetty is also an excellent place to study the regulars,
BONAPARTE'S GULL, LONG-TAILED DUCK, COMMON LOON, and RED-BREASTED
MERGANSER, as they feed close by and interact. "A Guide to Bird Finding
in New Jersey," by Bill Boyle's, pp. 273-276 (available at CMBO's
bookstores) makes your visit easy. Be sure to also visit nearby
Manahawkin WMA and Cedar Run Dock Road (pp. 269-273, Boyle's book) in
the afternoon / early evening for Short-eared Owls and Rough-legged
Hawks! CMBO's "Longtails In Love" trip on Saturday, February 14 (10
a.m. to 4 p.m.) still has openings. Longtails are displaying now, but
will be really wound up by mid-February! Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to
Between December 16 and January 6, 5 road-killed SAW-WHET OWLS have been
found in Cape May County (and 1 in Cumberland County): 3 on the Garden
State Parkway between mile marker 0.2 and mm 16.7, 1 on Rte 347 just
south of the Cumberland County line, and 1 on Rte 55 at mm 35). These
birds were probably wintering near the road and made the mistake of
crossing the road to hunt the other shoulder. Unfortunately they hunt
low, bumper-level, listening for prey. Be on the alert. Also, be sure
to check their legs for an aluminum band and, if found, report the band
number and data (date found, condition, location where found, finder) to
the USGS at 1-800-327-2263. And let CMBO know what you learned too.
1,000s of SAW-WHET OWLS were banded this fall in Canada and New England
and the likelihood of learning where a wintering bird has come from is
quite good! If a road-kill is in good shape, document when & where
found and bring this information and the bird to the Cape May Bird
Enjoy winter birding by joining CMBO for the following walks that
require no preregistration! EVERY SATURDAY, " Birding Cape May Point,"
8:00-10:00 a.m.; EVERY SUNDAY, "Nightfall at Jakes Landing," 4:30 p.m.
to dusk; EVERY SUNDAY (beginning January 25) "Sunday Mornings at Turkey
Point," 8:00-10:00 a.m.
CMBO will next teach the "Nikon School of Birding" April 23-25, Friday
through Sunday. This workshop is designed to help birders of all
experience levels build better birding skills. Call 609-861-0700 or
stop by either center to request the Nikon School of Birding brochure.
There are many additional special programs being offered this winter.
Check out CMBO's WINTER Program Schedule. To receive a copy stop at
either of the two centers, or call the office during business hours at
609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's web site where a full
listing of CMBO's WINTER 2003 PROGRAMS (November, December, January,
February, and a few of the March programs) is posted at:
The Cumberland County Winter Raptor Festival , Saturday, February 7,
2004 (7:00 am till 8:30 pm.) will again be based at the Mauricetown Fire
Hall in Mauricetown, NJ, adjacent to the Wild and Scenic Maurice River,
a major viewing site for wintering raptors. Lectures will be held all
day: (1) 10:30 a.m. Steve Eisenhauer, Regional Manager of the Natural
Lands Trust -- "Flying Over Cumberland County: A Raptor's View." (2)
11:30 a.m. Keynote Speaker: Pat Sutton, Program Director, NJ Audubon
Society's Cape May Bird Observatory -- "A Naturalist's Journey Through
Cumberland County," 26 years of experiences through the seasons. (3)
12:30 p.m. Book Signing by Clay Sutton, author of Birding Cumberland,
produced by Cumberland County Department of Planning and Development and
Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and its Tributaries. (4)
1:00 p.m. Clay Sutton, Writer and Naturalist -- "All About Eagles."
(5) 2:00 p.m. David Mizrahi, Vice President of Research, NJ Audubon
Society -- "Delaware Bay, Mecca for Migrants." (6) 3:00 p.m. Karen
Williams, Proprietor of Flora For Fauna (nursery that specializes in
wildlife habitat landscaping) and gardener at Cape May Bird Observatory
-- "Inviting Wildlife into your Yard." (7) 4:00 p.m. Jane Galetto,
President, Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and its
Tributaries -- "Eggs to Flight; the Maurice River Osprey Colony."
Pete Dunne, Vice President, NJ Audubon Society, will speak about "Wind
Masters, Stories Behind the Stories" at an evening presentation after
the sunset owl watch. Tickets for dinner and Pete Dunne's evening
program may be purchased for $8 that morning. Guided walks led by CMBO
Staff and volunteer naturalists, boat tours on the Maurice River, events
for novice naturalists, vendors, a morning sunrise walk with Pete Dunne,
book signings, and a sunset owl watch with Pat Sutton and other leaders
will be part of the day's schedule. Bring binoculars! Registration
begins at the Mauricetown Fire Hall in Mauricetown, NJ, at 8:00 a.m.
Food will be available at the fire hall until 5:00 p.m. Admission is $4
for children and $8 for adults. For more information call the
Cumberland County Department of Planning and Development at 856-453-2177
This Cape May Natural History and Events Hotline is a service of the
Cape May Bird Observatory, which is a research, conservation, and
education unit of the New Jersey Audubon Society. Our aim is to
preserve and perpetuate the ornithological and natural history
significance of Cape May. Your membership supports these goals and this
hotline. We detail sightings from around Cape May County, and also
include reports from Cumberland and Atlantic Counties. Updates are
typically made on Thursdays. Natural history sightings can be written
on sighting sheets at either CMBO center or called in to 609-861-0700.
Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!
New Jersey Audubon Society's
Cape May Bird Observatory
Center for Research & Education
600 Route 47 North
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
609-861-0700, x-16 (phone) / 609-861-1651 (fax)