Cape May Natural History Hotline - 1/17/2002

You have reached the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This update was made on Thursday, January 17. The Cape May Birding Hotline has moved to 609-898-BIRD (sorry for any inconvenience).

To registrants of CMBO's Saturday, January 19th, programs (a "Purple Martin Workshop" in the AM & an "Owl Workshop & Field Trip" in the PM." Both programs are a GO! And for any last minute registrants, there is still room in each. At this time the weather being predicted includes snow by afternoon, maybe amounting to 3", then turning to rain by late afternoon. Snow / rain should not hinder our programs -- they'll go on as scheduled.

Now on with the hotline ... Big news this week is the MIDWINTER BALD EAGLE SURVEY, which was held on Saturday and Sunday, January 12 & 13. Preliminary results are in for the 7 southernmost counties in New Jersey with the second highest number of eagles seen since the survey began in 1979. So far, a total of 118 Bald Eagles were seen, including 77 adults and 41 immatures. As always, the majority of the birds were found along the Delaware Bayshore, where 45 adults and 19 immatures were found. The Atlantic Coast marshes and Pine Barren river systems hosted 25 adults and 20 immatures. And an additional 7 adults and 2 immatures were found along the Lower Delaware River.

This bodes well for CMBO's upcoming "Winter Raptors of the Delaware Bayshore" field trip on Saturday, February 2nd, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. -- which still has room -- and also for the 7 scheduled "Maurice River Bald Eagle Cruises" in March and early April. Call CMBO to register at 609-861-0700, x-16.

New Jersey's resident adult BALD EAGLES (31 pairs in 2001) are paired up and many were found at or near their nests during the survey. One lucky observer on January 13 watched the Cape May County pair mating at first light. The male came out and lit on their favorite dead pine on the back side of East Creek Lake at 6:59 a.m. The female flew out of the swamp and joined him at 7:10 a.m. They mated immediately. By 7:45 a.m. they were both gone ... no doubt already out on the marsh hunting at nearby Jakes Landing. A Bald Eagle nest visible (with the aide of a telescope) from the end of Newport Landing in Cumberland County is a rare opportunity to view eagle activity. On January 16th one adult was at the nest in the late afternoon. The second adult joined the first at near dark (5:10 p.m) and no doubt both adults spent the night at the nest, as is probably the case with most of New Jersey's breeding pairs.

If you should see any nesting activity, which is very likely at this time of year, be sure to report it to Larissa Smith at the NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program's Tuckahoe office: 609-628-2103. Adults with sticks are surely taking them back to their nests. All such sightings are of interest.

1 SNOWY OWL continues to be seen DAILY at Forsythe NWR (known fondly as "Brig" or "Brigantine Refuge"), including today January 17, 2002, when it was found in the East Pool. Earlier this winter there were as many as 3 Snowy Owls there. Observers are conscientiously writing their sightings in the log book, so double check it before heading out onto the dike. Snowy Owls can be quite sedentary during the day, tucking in out of the wind but often choosing a sunny spot. Be sure to scan the marsh and mud edges, as well as any elevated perch, like the small cedars or snags in the East Pool. One wouldn't think that a large white owl could hide, but they are quite capable of being easily overlooked. If you don't succeed on your own, look for the gathering of birders with scopes & you're sure to find the Snowy Owl(s). Also at Brigantine Refuge you'll be dazzled by the profusion of waterfowl. Numbers tallied on January 17th included: 500 PINTAIL, 100 N. SHOVELER, 4,000 BLACK DUCKS, 400 MALLARDS, 300 HOODED MERGANSER, 3,

Three of CMBO's weekly winter walks have now begun. Some highlights of what might be expected on each follow:

(1) The "Delaware Bayshore Birding" walk is offered every Monday, January 14 to April 1 (10 a.m. to Noon), and meets at the CMBO Center for Research & Education in Goshen. On January 14th this walk enjoyed a number of N. HARRIERS, a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, a sub-adult BALD EAGLE, 2 PURPLE FINCH, 6 TUNDRA SWANS, and 4 BLACK VULTURES, among other goodies, at Jakes Landing and visited an assortment of other hot spots along the Bayshore. On January 17 this same area, from Reeds Beach north to East Creek held more SNOW GEESE than one resident birder has ever seen there in 25 years of birding the bayshore -- thousands upon thousands of birds -- an incredible spectacle! Also on January 17, a CANVASBACK was discovered at Reeds Beach along the beach front.

(2) The "Sunday Morning at Turkey Point" walk is offered every Sunday, January 20 to March 31 (8 to 10 a.m.), and meets at the wildlife viewing platform at the end of Turkey Point Road in Cumberland County (reached from Route 553 west or north of the town of Dividing Creek). Pete & Linda Dunne, and Karen Williams are the leaders and so far this winter have been enjoying at Turkey Point lots of close looks at SNOW GEESE, most mornings GREAT HORNED OWLS at dawn, RED-TAILED HAWKS on territory, adult and immature BALD EAGLES, MARSH WRENS, VIRGINIA and CLAPPER RAILS, and some days even looks at FOX, OTTER, and one day a MINK. There have also been lots of waterfowl, including COMMON MERGANSER, HOODED MERGANSER and RED-BREASTED MERGANSER. Shorebirds enjoyed there include: AMERICAN WOODCOCK, SNIPE, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, LESSER YELLOWLEGS, DUNLIN and DOWITCHER.

(3) The "Birding Cape May Point" walk is offered every Saturday, January 19 to March 30 (10 a.m. to Noon), and meets at the Cape May Point State Park in the raised picnic pavilion. Some of the goodies enjoyed at Cape May Point so far this winter include AMERICAN BITTERN & LEAST BITTERN, PINTAIL, HOODED MERGANSERS, N. SHOVELER, COOT, RING-NECKED DUCK, SNIPE, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, and more!

Pairs of GREAT HORNED OWLS will soon nest, hence all the hooting each dawn and dusk, and sometimes even through the night or mid-day. They are very wound up right now. With day length shortening, they may begin their dueting by 2:30 p.m. or earlier. Each pair calling is near its potential nest site. Their hooting is a declaration of the territory they've set up. If you should hear the male's hoot, "whoo-who-who-who, whoooo, whoooo," and the female's lower answer ("wooo woooo") you can be assured that a pair will nest somewhere nearby come late January. Now that the deciduous trees are bare and you can see through a forest, it is time to haunt the woods looking for old raptor, crow, or heron nests that Great Horned Owls may nest in, since they do not build their own nest.

CMBO's "ALL ABOUT OWLS: Workshop and Field Trip" is an excellent opportunity to learn how and where to look for owls &, with luck, even see and hear some owls! This program is offered from 1-5:30 p.m. on 3 different dates: Saturday, January 19; Wednesday, January 23;, and Friday, February 1. Pat Sutton, coauthor of "How to Spot an Owl," will teach these workshops. Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register

The meadow at CMBO's Center for Research & Education in Goshen has attracted a feeding flock of E. BLUEBIRDS. Most recently they were enjoyed January 18th. The wildflower and tall grass meadow, as well as the still standing gardens (full of plant stalks and seed heads), is insect rich and very attractive to wintering bluebirds, just the way we planned it in CMBO's "Model Backyard Habitat."

Believe it or not, a butterfly was seen this week, despite lengthy periods of freezing temperatures. An ORANGE SULPHUR was seen January 15 at Hidden Valley.

For a complete listing of CMBO's WINTER PROGRAMS (January through March 2002) stop by either of our centers and pick up the Winter Kestrel Express, or call 609-861-0700 and ask us to mail it to you, or go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calspec.html

HIGHLIGHTS OF A FEW UPCOMING PROGRAM (in addition to those already detailed above) follow:

A "Purple Martin Workshop" on January 19 (10 a.m.-Noon) at the CMBO Center for Research & Education in Goshen. Yes, it's time to begin thinking of preparations for your own backyard so that you're ready for the 2002 Purple Martin season & perhaps enjoy more success than you ever have in the past! Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register.

"BIRDING 101" on Saturday, January 26, (10 a.m. - 3 p.m.) is a short course on the basics of birding. It will combine indoor discussion of birding tools and resources with outdoor practice time. It will meet at the CMBO Center for Research & Education in Goshen for the morning indoor session. After a lunch break the group will visit nearby natural areas to practice finding, observing, and identifying birds. Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register.

"WINTER RAPTORS OF THE DELAWARE BAYSHORE," an all day field trip, on Saturday, February 2 (8 a.m - 5 p.m) will explore this winter wonderland looking for clouds of Snow Geese, which often give a hunting Bald Eagle's presence away, Rough-legged and Red-tailed Hawks, Northern Harriers, Turkey and Black Vultures, Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks, and Short-eared Owls. Other possibilities during the day, if the group is lucky, include American Kestrel, Red-shouldered Hawk, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, and Golden Eagle. Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register.

CUMBERLAND COUNTY's WINTER RAPTOR FESTIVAL on Saturday, February 9, is being hosted by Cumberland County. Don't miss this grand event! For all information about this festival, contact Cumberland County's Planning and Development Office at 856-453-2177. CMBO is very involved & will leaders stationed at outdoor viewing sites and be offering several of the indoor programs, but the contact for more information is Cumberland County.

"LONGTAILS IN LOVE" on Saturday, February 16 (10 a.m. - 2 p.m.) will explore the winter waterways in search of courting Longtails, since they'll soon be heading north to the Arctic where they breed. We'll also enjoy a host of other winter waterfowl, but only the Longtails and Common Goldeneyes will be displaying. Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register.

A series of 4 "GARDENING FOR WILDLIFE WORKSHOPS" are scheduled and still have room. (1) Saturday, February 23: "How to Create a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife." (2) Saturday, March 2: "How to Create a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden." (3) Saturday, March 9: "How to Create a Wildflower Meadow & a Pond for Wildlife." (4) Saturday, March 16: "How to Maintain Your Wildlife Habitat." All run from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM and will be taught by Pat Sutton and Karen Williams. Learn how to enhance your backyard landscaping for wildlife. Shake the winter, embrace spring, and come learn how you can plan your own backyard to attract showy hummingbirds, monarchs and other butterflies, bluebirds and other nesting birds, wintering birds, and so much more! These workshops have been scheduled for late winter, the perfect time to plan your gardens, order plants and seeds, and dream of the coming months. The first workshop is the backbone to the series and will supply a good foundation for the other three workshops. Topics covered during the final workshop will include pruning and shaping trees and shrubs, techniques for late winter clean-up, spring chores like dividing and moving perennials, new bed preparation, soil maintenance and nourishment, selection of annual seed varieties, starting annuals from seed, and much more. Each workshop will include a question and answer session regarding each landowner's particular situation. Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register.

The 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 and natural history significance of Cape May. Your membership supports these goals and this hotline. For more information call 609-861-0700 or send a request for information to CMBO, 600 Route 47 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210. Our two centers are CMBO's Center for Research & Education at 600 Route 47 North in Goshen and CMBO's Northwood Center at 701 East Lake Drive in Cape May Point.

The Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline is a service of New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory and details sightings from Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties and near shore waters. Updates are usually made on Thursday evenings (except during this holiday season, when they will be made every other Thursday). Please report natural history sightings to CMBO at 609-861-0700 or 609-884-2736. For the Cape May Birding Hotline call 609-898-BIRD. Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!

Patricia Sutton
Program Director
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)

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