CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY AND EVENTS HOTLINE, January 28, 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 Friday, January 28. 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).
Heavy snowfall to the north has triggered a huge influx of BALD EAGLES and
ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS. Iced in waterways and marshes have pushed out waterfowl.
GREEN-WINGED TEAL, PINTAIL, SNOW GEESE, and CANADA GEESE have left the area
in huge numbers. A survey of the Mullica River on January
25 tallied 20 BALD EAGLES (including 7 adults), 42 N. HARRIER, 1 adult
GOLDEN EAGLE, 2 MERLIN, 5 PEREGRINES, and 21 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS ...
several winter's worth of Rough-legs! A survey of the Maurice River on
January 24 tallied 19 BALD EAGLES (including 8 adults). A survey of the
Great Egg Harbor River on January 21 tallied 8 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS from the
Corbin City and Tuckahoe WMA dikes. Waterfowl had been forced out of the
impoundments and into the only open water on the Tuckahoe River (best viewed
from the boat launch at the end of Mosquito Landing Road in Tuckahoe). On
January 21, 21 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, a male EURASIAN GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 63
COMMON MERGANSERS, and several HOODED MERGANSERS were seen from this spot.
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!
RED-TAILED HAWKS were courting over Turkey Point on January 20. BALD EAGLES
continue to spruce up their nest for the coming nesting season.
On January 25, one adult flew over Rt. 47 with nest material, probably
heading to the East Creek nest. They 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). We're sure to be entertained by
dozens of Bald Eagles! Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register! Cumberland
County's "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 CMBO's
Center in Goshen.
SHORT-EARED OWLS seem to be hunting early in the day with the frozen
marshes; one might see them by 3 p.m. or earlier. One was enjoyed from
Newport Landing on January 25 as it hunted over the marsh out by Gandy's
Beach. On January 27, three were seen from Jakes Landing hunting out along
the Delaware Bay against a dazzling clear red sky at dusk. This winter
Corbin City WMA is another stronghold for Short-eared Owls, but the recent
snow has made the driving dike deeply rutted and hazardous for anyone
without 4-wheel drive. A SCREECH OWL took a sunbath in the entrance to a
backyard nest box near the Rea Farm this week in the bitter cold. If you
have a Screech Owl nest box, keep alert. You too may have an owl seeking
shelter from this bitter cold winter in your box.
GREAT HORNED OWLS will soon be on their nests, they being the earliest
nesting bird. One pair entertained observers at Turkey Point on January
25 at 5:15 p.m. and another pair on January 27 at Jakes Landing at 5:30 p.m.
Two excellent opportunities to enjoy raptors (owls, eagles, &
hawks) and other birds include CMBO's (1) "Sunday Morning at Turkey Point"
walk, held every Sundays (8-10 a.m.) -- 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), and (2) the "Nightfall at Jakes Landing" walk, offered
every Sunday (4 p.m. to dusk), meets at 4 p.m.
the end of Jakes Landing Road, near Dennisville.
Hundreds of TUNDRA SWANS were in the open water in the Wading River on
January 25. 145 COMMON GOLDENEYE were in the Delaware Bay at the end of East
Point Road on January 22 and a possible female BARROW'S GOLDENEYE (one with
a full yellow bill) was with them. Be on the lookout to confirm this bird.
The Avalon Seawatch is a hotspot for scoters and LONG-TAILED DUCKS. If you'd
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.).
Another waterfowl and N. Gannet learning opportunity is Mark Garland's
February 20 "Birding From the Ferry" (7 to 11 a.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11
to register for either trip! CMBO's Waterfowl Art Exhibit has opened at CMBO
Center in Goshen.
Stop by and be dazzled! The Opening Reception will be this Sunday, January
30 (2-4 p.m.)
Massive numbers of BOAT-TAILED GRACKLES were counted from Amassas Landing
overlooking the Mullica River as they went to roost on January 25.
Roving flocks of AMERICAN ROBINS are searching for food. American Holly
trees are the reason so many of them are here this winter. If there's a good
holly berry crop, Robins winter here. If not, they migrate south.
This winter they're here in force and roving around looking for holly trees
that still have berries to stay ALIVE! A Robin flock on January 25 consumed
all the hips on a tangle of Multiflora Roses.
Water is frozen solid everywhere and has been for at least a week now!
Many birds are desperate for water to drink and to bath in. CMBO and many
other NJ Audubon centers carry heated bird baths and heaters to place in
bird baths. If you don't have one, get one. Birds need all the help they can
get right now! CMBO has fielded a number of calls from people who have
witnessed Robins being hit by cars or dozens of dead Robins along roadsides.
The only available drinking and bathing water is along roadsides where ice
and snow have been melted by the asphalt and in many cases by road salt.
Some birds are so stressed by this weather that they are flushing into the
path of high speed traffic and are being hit by cars. One wonders too if
melted water tainted by road salt isn't contributing to their weakened
A WILD TURKEY was found way up in the top of a small sapling eating buds on
January 24. With 6 inches of snow on the ground wildlife needs to be
Severe winter weather always forces AMERICAN WOODCOCK out of their normal
deep cover. Needing to probe in soft earth for earthworms to stay alive, at
times like this they can be found right out in the open along roadsides
where the sun has warmed up the road shoulder. Ten were seen along Sunset
Boulevard on January 25. Several others were along the exit road at the Cape
May Point State Park. Also look for them along the Garden State Parkway. If
you have an outdoor compost pile, you're likely to have a woodcock or two
probing in the warm ground for a meal. Piles of leaves blanketing the ground
also result in unfrozen spots and might keep a winter-stressed Woodcock
alive. One more reason NOT to rake leaves. Leaves do break down into rich
A RIVER OTTER feasted on a fish while lounging on an icy bank at Lower Bank
on January 25.
The Cumberland Co. Christmas Bird Count was held on January 2.
Sixty-seven participants tallied 125 species including some amazing finds. A
WESTERN KINGBIRD was found near the Millville Recreational Area. Three
CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS were found by two parties: 2 along Middle Marsh Road
in Dix WMA and one along Reeves Road east of Bridgeton. An ICELAND GULL flew
over the Union Lake boat ramp. A VESPER SPARROW was in the Bevan WMA on
Ackley Road. 9 cranes (Sandhill x Common Cranes), a resident flock, was seen
by 2 parties and watched as they went to roost at the end of Husted Landing
Road in the marsh to the right of the road end/marina. Apparently this is a
nightly ritual. If anyone gets photos, please e-mail them to Pat Sutton at
CMBO (to determine lineage ... some might be pure Sandhills!). The count
also tallied record numbers of RING-NECKED DUCKS (153), BALD EAGLES (58),
WILD TURKEY (341), FISH CROW (7,473, mostly at a roost in Bridgeton), and
WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (94). It was a good night for owling too: 99 GREAT
HORNED OWLS and 61 SCREECH OWLS.
CMBO's 2005 Cape May Birding Workshops are set. Registrations are being
taken now. To receive the workshop brochure call 609-861-0700 or go to:
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.
. Saturdays (2-4 p.m.), "Winter at the Rea Farm" with Mark Garland meets at
2 p.m. in the Rea Farm parking lot on Bayshore Road.
. 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 at CMBO Center in Goshen- Stop by and be dazzled!
. 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
. BIRDING FROM THE FERRY with Mark Garland - Saturday, March 26 (7-11 a.m.)
. CMBO's 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
Audubon's website: http://www.njaudubon.org
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!