Cape May Natural History Hotline - 1/28/2006

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 26, and will next be updated on February 9. New Jersey 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).

ALERT: BOW SEASON in Cape May County ends January 31. In New Jersey there is no hunting on Sundays.

Today, January 28, a SNOWY OWL was seen this morning on a fence post on the beachfront in Cape May in front of Congress Hall. The SNOWY OWL, discovered December 8 at Stone Harbor Point, played hard-to-see last weekend in Cape May County, but a SNOWY OWL was discovered in Atlantic City in the Venice Park section (Missouri & Riverside) on January 23. Looks like its back or there are 2 in the area!

Next Saturday, February 4, is Cumberland Countys Winter Eagle Festival, beginning at 7 a.m. with a Sunrise Walk at Turkey Point with Pete Dunne! Admission for the Festival is $10 for adults and $5 for children under twelve; registration starts at the Mauricetown Fire Hall at 8 a.m. For more information call (856) 453-2177 or (866) 866-MORE. Exhibitors, artists, vendors, lectures / presentations, and food will be available at the Mauricetown Fire Hall (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Presentations include Larry Niles at 10 a.m. (of the NJ Endangered & Nongame Species Program), David Mizrahi at 11 a.m. (The Crucible of Migration), Pete Dunne at 1 p.m. (Identifyin em Far far away), Pat Sutton at 2 p.m. (How to Spot an Owl), and Kevin Karlson at 3 p.m. (Raptors of the Bayshore). For the outdoor enthusiast CMBO/NJAS naturalists will staff four different raptor viewing sites between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., plus walks are scheduled with Steve Eisenhauer (8:30 a.m. at Natural Lands Trusts Maple Street Trail and 11:30 at their Bald Eagle Trail) and Pat Sutton (Sunset at Turkey Point for owls at 5 p.m.). A hearty Chili Dinner, good spirits, a program by Clay Sutton and an auction (held at the Laurel Lake Property Owners Association from 6:30 to 9 p.m.) will follow the Eagle Festival and is sponsored by Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River (CU) as a fundraiser. Tickets for the Chili dinner and talk are $20.00; seating is limited, purchase your ticket ahead of time by contacting Renee Scagnelli at 856-692-0460 for more information or email Rscagnelli@comcast.net.

Those looking for the Snowy Owl at Stone Harbor Point on January 24 flushed a SHORT-EARED OWL from out of the grass. SHORT-EARED OWLS have been hit-or-miss this week at the normal winter hotspots, including places theyve been seen previously this winter. A brief look on January 22 at Jakes Landing, though clouds of SNOW GEESE made up for it. One SHORT-EARED OWL was seen well on January 24 at the Tuckahoe WMA close to the road by the northernmost impoundment. These impoundments also held 27 TUNDRA SWANS, 160 N. PINTAIL, 60 GREEN- WINGED TEAL, 150 HOODED MERGANSERS, and 19 COMMON MERGANSERS on January 24 just in time for CMBOs first Nightfall at Corbin City Impoundments walk on Sunday, January 29.

GREAT HORNED OWLS will soon be on eggs. Pairs are still calling softly to one another. When they become silent, youll know that theyve laid eggs. An All About Owls: Workshop & Field Trip with Pat Sutton will be taught Saturday, January 28, 1-5:30 p.m., meeting at CMBOs Center in Goshen for the indoor portion of the workshop at 1 p.m. To register or for more information call 609-861-0700, x-11. Several of CMBOs weekly winter walks (requiring no preregistration) visit owly spots at owly times. Every Sunday (8-10 a.m.), Sunday Morning at Turkey Point meets at the end of Turkey Point Road. Every other Sunday (Feb 5, 19, March 5, 19), Nightfall at Jakes Landing meets at the end of Jakes Landing Road at 4:30 p.m. Every other Sunday (Jan. 29, Feb. 12, 26, March 12, 26), Nightfall at Corbin City Impoundments meets on Griscom Mill Rd. (off Rt. 50) in the Corbin City Hall parking lot at 4 p.m. (4:30 p.m. in Feb). For details on each walk as well as CMBOs many preregistration programs go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

Its a GREAT time of year for GULLS! A BLACK-HEADED GULL was seen January 20 off Cape May Point, while 3 BONAPARTES GULLS fed near the St. Peters By the Sea dune crossover. Have you had trouble tracking down gulls shared on hotlines? Some gulls take 3 years to mature, others 4 and 5 years. No wonder theyre so tough to master. Now through early February is an excellent time of year to study them. As part of CMBOs 2006 Cape May Birding Workshops Michael OBrien will teach a 2-Day Gull Workshop, Saturday and Sunday, January 28-29, 2006 (12 places left). And if you want to be a better birder, more observant, and more aware of what to pay attention to, sign up for Michael OBrien and Louise Zemaitis 1-Day Workshop on Techniques of Field Identification, Sunday, February 5 (7 places left). To register for either, call 609-861-0700, x-11. To learn more about these workshops or the 15 other 2006 Cape May Birding Workshops go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks06.html

34 HARLEQUIN DUCKS and 150 COMMON EIDERS (including many, many adult males) were enjoyed at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park along the jetty on January 23! Aside from the many NJ Audubon field trips to this location, the Barnegat Lighthouse State Park is hosting a special day called HARBOR SEALS & HARLEQUINS on Saturday, March 11, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., to include guided wildlife watching walks, opportunities to climb the lighthouse, and activities for all ages. For more information, call 609-494-2016.

An AFRICAN GREY PARROT, named Freddie, was lost on January 15 on Brigantine Island. The owner is offering a $1,000 reward. If you see this bird dead or alive, call 609-266-9044.

Preliminary results from the Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey, held on January 14-15, include: 95 adult and 59 immature BALD EAGLES, and 1 GOLDEN EAGLE. Special thanks to the many volunteer observers. Well DONE! Adult BALD EAGLES all over New Jersey are busy with their nests sitting in them, sitting side-by-side near them, mating near them, whistling to each other, adding sticks its quite a show. The pair at Beaver Swamp WMA, up Sluice Creek from the CMBO Center in Goshen, has been very entertaining. Almost daily one of the adults flies right over CMBO on its way out to the marshes at Jakes Landing. Nearly every visit to Beaver Swamp WMA, one adult is tucked hidden down in the nest, but eventually gets up and flies about, which means theyve not yet laid eggs. The nest at Maple Avenue Impoundments in Dividing Creek blew down, probably in the high winds of January 15 (when wind gusted to 61 mph). Since then the adults have been seen carrying large sticks, no doubt to build a new nest. Bald Eagles normally lay eggs sometime in February or later.

CMBOs 3-Day Owl & Eagle Workshop on January 22 savored excellent looks at a light ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK and a distant GOLDEN EAGLE at Amasas Landing (exit 50 on Parkway), and an adult GOLDEN EAGLE and an adult BALD EAGLE over NJ Conservation Foundations new Franklin Parker Preserve, visible from Rt. 563.

Pairs of RED-TAILED HAWKS are all courting now. Their courtship displays are quite spectacular. RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS too are going through their courtship displays. Over 100 were seen in the waters from Longport and Somers Point on January 24.

Highlights from the January 22 Turkey Point Walk and afterwards in nearby areas include: eagles, courting Red-tails, lots of landbirds and waterfowl, a dark ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK (Newport Landing), GREAT HORNED OWL sunning during the day (also Newport Ldn.), 6 SNOW BUNTINGS (at Fortescue), small flock of HORNED LARKS (Jones I. Road).

On January 21, a visit to the site of CMBOs Avalon Seawatch (the jetty at 8th Street) dazzled observers with close looks (and listens the whistle of 150+ scoters) at 100 SURF SCOTER, 50 BLACK SCOTER, a female HARLEQUIN DUCK, 25 LONG-TAILED DUCKS, 3 PURPLE SANDPIPER, 2 RUDDY TURNSTONES, 2 close COMMON LOONS, and several HORNED GREBE. This winter smorgasbord drifted right up to observers on the jetty, since the tide was just right for feasting on goodies attached to the jetty.

On January 24, around Cape May Point, a female REDHEAD and lots of GADWALL (Lily Lake), WILSONS SNIPE (State Park), stunning adult male DICKCISSEL in with a flock of HOUSE SPARROWS (at the north end of Lily Lake) were all enjoyed. Why not join the local birders and savor all this and more. Every Saturday (8-10 a.m.) CMBOs Cape May Point walk meets at the Cape May Point State Park on the raised Picnic Pavilion.

On January 9, a MOURNING CLOAK was seen at Higbee Beach WMA, and on January 12 a RED ADMIRAL was seen in Del Haven off Norburys Landing Road. 2 RED-BELLIED TURTLES were basking on a log at Daveys Lake at Higbee Beach on January 24. Also on January 24, a large LOCUST / GRASSHOPPER flushed along Sunset Boulevard near the old Magnesite Plant.

AMERICAN HOLLY berries still adorn trees, so AMERICAN ROBINS have not eaten every last one.

See Life Paulagics will be running an inshore boat trip Sunday, Feb. 12 departing at 8:00 a.m. from Belmar on the Suzie Girl and a 12-hour pelagic out of Cape May Sunday, March 5. For information on these trips contact their website http://www.paulagics.com or call 215-234-6805.

CMBOs bookstore hours follow: the Northwood Center in Cape May Point is open Thursday-Monday, 9-4:30. The Center for Research and Education on Route 47 in Goshen is open daily (7 days a week) from 9-4:30.

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. All are detailed in the Kestrel Express. To receive a copy of the Winter Kestrel Express (December through February) stop at either CMBO Center, call the office during business hours at 609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's web site: 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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