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Cape May Natural History Hotline - 1/29/2004
CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY AND EVENTS HOTLINE, January 29, 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 29. 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.

Freezing temperatures have iced up waterways and concentrated waterfowl. It's a spectacular time to get a great looks, especially if you use your vehicle as a blind where possible. A giant raft of COMMON GOLDENEYE and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS is in the Delaware Bay just off East Point Road. There were 1,000s of LESSER & GREATER SCAUP, BRANT, BLACK DUCKS, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, and BUFFLEHEAD, 100s of HOODED MERGANSER, numbers of RUDDY DUCKS, a few COMMON GOLDENEYE, and 13 REDHEADS in a few key open water back bay spots in Stone Harbor and Avalon, January 22-25. Concentrations were at 104th Street, street ends off 21st Street, and Moran's Marina at 14th Street. These backbay concentration sites change daily as ice moves around. The Avalon Seawatch at 7th Street and the 8th Street Jetty have been excellent for HORNED GREBE, BLACK SCOTER, SURF SCOTER, COMMON LOONS, LONG-TAILED DUCKS, and a huge raft of scaup with a few REDHEADS mixed in. The concentrations are so enticing that they lured in an immature N. GOSHAWK to 14th street in Avalon on January 22 and a PEREGRINE on January 25. The "Longtails In Love" trip on Saturday, February 14 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) still has 10 openings. Longtails are displaying now, but will be really wound up by mid-February! Savor waterfowl, gannets, and other goodies with Mark Garland on the "Birding From the Ferry" trip on Saturday, February 21 (7:00 to 11:00 a.m.) "Winter at Two Mile Beach" on Sunday, February 29 (1:00 to 4:00 p.m.) with Mark Garland is another great opportunity; explore the Cold Spring Jetty where eiders, Harlequin Ducks, and alcids are all possible. Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register for any of these trips.

CMBO's 4-day Winter Workshop journeyed to Barnegat Light State Park on January 25 and studied all the winter specialties: male KING EIDER, several COMMON EIDER, 22 HARLEQUIN DUCKS, many LONG-TAILED DUCKS, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, and feeding COMMON LOONS in the inlet and around the jetty. A large concentration of gulls on the beach at low tide around some mussel-encrusted rocks included an immature GLAUCOUS GULL, an adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, 30 PURPLE SANDPIPER, and 10 RUDDY TURNSTONES. The windswept beach within view of the fenced in promenade along the jetty held a flock of 20 HORNED LARKS and 6 LAPLAND LONGSPURS and a flock of 50 SNOW BUNTINGS. 2 GREAT CORMORANT perched on the tower structure in the inlet between the two jetties. 3 different HARBOR SEALS entertained visitors on January 25 as they surfaced, looked around, and slipped back under the water surface in the inlet and along the beachfront. Barnegat can be a brutal, exposed viewing site. Choose a calm day to visit when winds are minimal.

This winter weather has triggered a massive incursion of eagles. 28 BALD EAGLES were seen on the Maurice River today, January 29, the highest number in 15+ years of winter surveys. Several of them closely monitored a RIVER OTTER as it walked the frozen marsh edge. Thousands of CANADA GEESE were flying over the river too, no doubt pushed out from the frozen north. Our resident adult BALD EAGLES can be found near their nests this time of year, they being the second earliest nesting bird. They are busy adding sticks to their nests and can often be found perched near it. Be sure to report any behavior that may indicate nesting to the NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program at 609-628-2103, since you might have discovered a new pair. On January 23, CMBO's 4-day Winter Workshop group enjoyed 20 Bald Eagles on the Maurice and Cohansey Rivers, including 6 immatures in the sky together over the Maurice River, all interacting. Resident RED-TAILED HAWKS are paired up now too, sitting side-by-side. It's a great time to get a feel for just how many Red-tails nest in your area. "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 on Saturday, January 31 (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Up the Atlantic Coast another raptor-rich area is the Great Egg Harbor River. Explore it by signing up for the "Tuckahoe and Corbin City WMAs" field trip with Pat Sutton & Karen Johnson on Sunday, February 15 (2-6 p.m.). CMBO is again offering "Bald Eagle Cruises on the Maurice River" this spring; 8 trips (March 20 through April 4). There is still room on all trips, but some are beginning to fill. The next "Birding Cumberland" field trip with Clay and Pat Sutton will cover the Cohansey River on Saturday, March 13 (9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register for any of these programs while openings last!

On January 25, CMBO's first of the winter "Sunday Mornings at Turkey Point walk" (8:00-10:00 a.m.) saw ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, several BALD EAGLES, RED-SHOULDERED HAWK, COMMON GOLDENEYE, BUFFLEHEAD, and HOODED MERGANSER, loads of sparrows in protected sunny edges, 2 WINTER WRENS, and 2 AMERICAN WOODCOCK.

On January 25, CMBO's "Nightfall at Jakes Landing walk" (4:30 p.m. to dusk) enjoyed a dark ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK and 2 SHORT-EARED OWLS interacting with a N. HARRIER and each other. Their yip-like barking calls could be heard.

AMERICAN WOODCOCK are struggling to survive this stretch of frozen ground. Reports are coming in of easy looks at Woodcock as they are forced out into exposed feeding sites, like the sunny side of a house where snow has melted. Along the north side of Sunset Boulevard, 37 were seen between Stevens Street and Lighthouse Avenue on January 28. 3 VIRGINIA RAILS were seen this week along the trails at the Cape May Point State Park at open water spots. This situation results in great viewing opportunities. Where possible, use your car as a blind and enjoy them. Backyard feeding stations, especially those with open/moving water, are seeing lots of bird activity, including normally very secretive birds out in the open: E. TOWHEE, BROWN THRASHER, HERMIT THRUSH, AM. WOODCOCK. 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! As early as March male American Woodcock will be displaying to potential mates. Join Pat Sutton to witness and learn all about this nuptial flight during the "Woodcock Dance" field trip on Saturday, March 6 (5:00 to 7:00 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register for either of these outings. Also consider signing up to help with an American Woodcock breeding survey on the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge (45 minute surveys will be conducted after sunset between April 10-30), by calling Heidi Hanlon, the refuge's wildlife biologist, at (609) 463-0994.

Winter gardens are fun to explore now. Look for the very camouflaged ways in which our insects winter over on last year's now-dead plant stems: Preying Mantis egg cases, butterfly chrysalides, and moth cocoons. Watch RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS flit from branch to branch on Red Cedar trees as they search for meals of frozen inch worms. Mark your calendars to accompany Mark Garland to see the spring's first native wildflower in bloom during the "Skunk Cabbage Celebration" on Sunday, February 22 (9:00 a.m. to Noon). A "2-day Nature Interpretation Workshop" with Mark Garland is scheduled for February 14-15 (Saturday-Sunday). Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register for either.

GREAT HORNED OWLS lay their eggs at the end of January or in early February, they being the earliest nesting bird. They will use last season's Red-tailed Hawk nest, or perhaps the nest of an Osprey or a Great Blue Heron. Once the female has laid her eggs, they get very quiet!

CMBO's complete listing of "2004 Cape May Birding Workshops" is now posted on New Jersey Audubon's web site: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks04.html Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to request a brochure be sent to you once available.

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, "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 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: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

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 or 1-866-866-MORE.

The NJ DEP's Endangered and Nongame Species Program is looking for volunteers to survey reptiles and amphibians throughout NJ this spring. Training seminars are offered 3 different dates: #1 February 28 at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey (Classroom B126), in Pomona (lecture: 9 a.m. - noon; field session: 1 - 3 p.m.); capacity: 50 persons. #2 March 6 at Hackettstown Natural Resource Education Center (located within the Hackettstown Fish Hatchery), in Hackettstown (lecture: 9 a.m. - noon; field session: 1 - 3 p.m.); capacity: 80 persons. #3 March 13 at Lord Stirling Environmental Education Center, in Basking Ridge (lecture: 9 a.m. - noon; field session: 1 - 3 p.m.); capacity: 75 persons. Participants may register via e-mail at vernalpools@yahoo.com. Be sure to include the training seminar you wish to attend, name of attendee(s), your mailing address and telephone number. An email containing registration confirmation and driving directions to the appropriate seminar will be sent back to you. Those without email capabilities can call 908-735-8975 to register. For more information, visit the Division of Fish and Wildlife's website at: http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/ensp/vernal

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!

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)
pat_sutton@njaudubon.org
http://www.njaudubon.org

 
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