Cape May Natural History Hotline - 1/20/2005

This is Pat Sutton with the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This hotline was prepared on Thursday, January 20. 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 website (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on "Sightings" (at the top of any page).

Many thanks to all who donated supplies to Tri State Bird Rescue to help their rehabilitation efforts of oiled birds in response to the November 26th Delaware River Oil Spill (the Athos I). Tri State Bird Rescue is no longer accepting donated materials; theyve run out of storage room. If you have collected donated materials, theyve suggested donating them to a local animal shelter. A recent summary of the November 26th Oil Spill can be found at the end of this hotline.

Love is in the air, yes despite the bitter winter we are finally experiencing here in South Jersey. RED-TAILED HAWKS are paired up and sitting side-by-side on marsh and field edges all over the Delaware Bayshore. BALD EAGLES are busy working on their nests and may lay eggs as early as early February. Join Pat Sutton for the popular Winter Raptors of the Delaware Bayshore Saturday, January 29 (9 -5:30). Were sure to be entertained by dozens of Bald Eagles! Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register! Cumberland Countys Winter Raptor Festival will be held Saturday, February 5. CMBO staff and volunteers will be manning 4 raptor-rich outdoor sites during this festival. Call 856-453-2177 to pick up the festival flyer or stop by CMBOs Center in Goshen.

A GREAT HORNED OWL was discovered sitting out in broad daylight along a sunlit edge of the saltmarsh at Hansey Creek in Cumberland County on January 16. They get cold too and its not that unusual to find sunning owls during the day in winter (Screech Owls peeking out of holes in trees and Long-ears and Great Horneds along remote edges). GREAT HORNED OWLS will soon lay eggs. They become very silent once the eggs are laid, so if youve been hearing Great Horneds and suddenly note their silence, youll know why. SHORT-EARED OWLS continue to entertain at Corbin City WMA. 3-4 hunted and interacted with N. Harriers against the backdrop of falling snow the evening of January 19 from 4 p.m. till dusk during CMBOs All About Owls Field Trip. Learn how to spot owls and learn all about them by joining Pat Sutton for the final"All About Owls Workshop & Field Trip" January 27 (1-5:30 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register!

The Corbin City WMA area is also a good vantage point to enjoy wintering ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS (3) and a GOLDEN EAGLE. Once the impoundments thaw they will fill back up with waterfowl. Learn this interesting area by joining Pat Sutton & Karen Johnson for the Tuckahoe & Corbin City WMA Field Trip, Saturday, February 19 (2-6 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register!

A raft of 200 SURF and BLACK SCOTERS drifted around the jetty at the Avalon Seawatch (7th Street and the beach) on January 20. 200 calling scoters sounded like wailing. 6 LONG-TAILED DUCKS and 2 HORNED GREBE were also enjoyed there. RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS are displaying now, throwing their head back in a graceful arch and were enjoyed in the backbay waters in Avalon visible from 53rd Street. Sunset Lake in Wildwood Crest is another winter waterfowl hotspot and held 75 Red-breasted Merganser and a female CANVASBACK on January 19. If youd like to savor amorous waterfowl, be sure to sign up for the Longtails in Love field trip with Pat Sutton on Saturday, February 12 (10 a.m.-4 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register!

The Barnegat Lighthouse jetty is always a winter treat. Because this site can be brutally cold, choose a windless, sunny day and be dazzled by 34+ HARLEQUIN DUCKS, 3 KING EIDER, PURPLE SANDPIPERS, SNOW BUNTINGS, LAPLAND LONGSPUR, and HORNED GREBE.

From East Point in Cumberland County 16 COMMON GOLDENEYE were enjoyed in the Delaware Bay on January 16. The recent cold and frozen marsh is driving SNOW GEESE south. Several thousand were seen January 18 heading south over Cape May Point. When the temperatures rise and the marshes and waterways thaw, theyll be back. Some winters the Snow Geese cross the Delaware Bay (back and forth) multiple times. Most other birds sit tight and if the conditions become too severe, they will die.

The third HARBOR SEAL sighting this winter came in from the Concrete Ship on January 19. An earlier one was seen in Hereford Inlet and another was found way up a creek in the Delaware Bay in Cumberland County.

CMBOs 2005 Cape May Birding Workshops are set. Registrations are being taken now. To receive the workshop brochure call 609-861-0700 or go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks05.html

Enjoy winter birds by attending upcoming CMBO programs:

Weekly walks (no advanced registration, $6 members, $10 for others): Saturdays (8-10 a.m.), "Birding Cape May Point" meets at 8 a.m. in the "South Shelter" raised pavilion at the Cape May Point State Park. Sundays (8-10 a.m.), Sunday Morning at Turkey Point meets at 8 a.m. at the end of Turkey Point Road in Cumberland County (reached from Rt. 553 south of the town of Dividing Creek). Sundays (4 p.m. to dusk), Nightfall at Jakes Landing meets at the end of Jakes Landing Road, near Dennisville.

Special programs and field trips in addition to those already mentioned follow (prices vary: call 609-861-0700 for info and to register): Waterfowl Art Exhibit has opened at CMBO Center in Goshen Stop by and be dazzled! The Opening Reception will be Sun., Jan. 30 (2-4) BIRDING FROM THE FERRY with Mark Garland Sunday, February 20 (7-11 a.m.) OPTICS WORKSHOP at CMBO Northwood Center Sunday, February 20 (1-3 p.m.) WINTER AT TWO MILE BEACH with Mark Garland Sunday, February 27 (1-4:30 p.m.) CAPE MAY NWR Field Trip with Pat Sutton Saturday, March 5 (1-4 p.m.) WOODCOCK DANCE with Pat Sutton Saturday, March 5 (5-7 p.m.) BIRDING CUMBERLAND with Pat & Clay Sutton Saturday, March 12 (9 a.m.-4 p.m.) BIRDING FROM THE FERRY with Mark Garland Saturday, March 26 (7-11 a.m.) CMBOs 10th ANNUAL OPTICS SALE for CMBO or NJ Audubon members ONLY (become a member today to take advantage of the great deals!) Saturday & Sunday, March 19-20 (9-4:30 p.m.)

Many other programs are scheduled for 2005; contact either CMBO Center for a copy of the Kestrel Express, which features the schedule, or go to NJ Audubons website: http://www.njaudubon.org

The following summary of the November 26th Delaware River Oil Spill (the Athos I) was shared at a recent conference: November 26, 2004 an oil tanker, the Athos I, began leaking crude oil into the Delaware River. Now that the ship has been examined in dry dock it is estimated that 265,000 gallons of oil leaked from the ship. Both a cargo compartment and ballast compartment were apparently punctured by a U-shaped piece of metal that appears to be part of a dredge pump impeller housing. The oil is a slightly buoyant crude oil that has the consistency of "cold honey" and is very sticky. A portion of the oil was forced underwater during the initial spill and was later cleaned from underwater depressions. Large sections of shoreline were covered with inches thick, relatively solid material. Shoreline impacts extend from Philadelphia to the Smyrna River, which is a little north of Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. So far 84,020 gallons of oil and oily liquid and 1,817 gallons of submerged oil have been recovered, along with 7,812 tons of oily solids (cleanup materials and oil). Shoreline clean up is on-going and not expected to be completed until the summer. 551 birds have been recovered so far, 174 dead, 258 have been cleaned and released, 119 are still being cleaned. Most of the birds impacted have been ducks, geese, and gulls. In March a reassessment of the situation will be undertaken to make plans for the spring. It is expected that there will be additional oil in the form of "tar balls" and small areas of "sheen" that will likely be encountered during the spring and into the summer, from the Philadelphia area to the outer coast in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. A damage assessment is just beginning and both shorebirds and horseshoe crabs have been highlighted among other things to consider when assessing the impacts. This is expected to take on the order of 1-2 years to complete. The following 2 web sites share additional information: http://www.ocean.udel.edu/oilspill http://www.incidentinfo.com/external/index.cfm?cid=864

The Cape May Bird Observatory offers an extensive series of regular bird walks that require no pre-registration and many special field trips and programs for which advanced registration is required. To receive a copy of the Winter Program Schedule (the Kestrel Express), stop at either CMBO Center, call the office during business hours at 609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's web site at http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

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 Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties. Updates are typically made on Thursdays. Please report your natural history sightings to CMBO's Center in Goshen at 609-861-0700. Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!

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