Cape May Natural History Hotline - 1/5/2006
Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline -- January 5, 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 5. 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: HUNTING SEASON is underway. In Cape May County Winter Bow season runs through January 31. In New Jersey there is no hunting on Sundays.

In 2005 butterflies petered out by the end of November. None were seen on the 3 South Jersey Christmas Bird Counts. But temperatures warmed up enough on December 23 for a MOURNING CLOAK to fly at the Cape May Coast Guard base. MOTHS were seen during this warm spell too and again on January 5, 2006. Most moths and butterflies wintering in the egg, caterpillar, or chrysalis or cocoon stage. Its an easy time to spot SILKMOTH COCOONS dangling from your trees. Look on Wild Cherry trees for PROMETHEA MOTH COCOONS. Its also an easy time of year to spot PREYING MANTIS EGG CASES. CMBOs Gardens in Goshen are full of them. During the Cumberland County CBC on January 1, 2006, owlers heard many yipping and howling COYOTES. Several SQUIRRELS in Upper Township have been exhibiting odd behavior over the last month, tumbling onto their sides. One was sent to the State Pathologist, Doug Rosco (908-735-8793). If you should notice similar, unhealthy behavior in your squirrels, call Mr. Rosco. If we learn what the cause is, well share it on this hotline.

A winter outing around Cape May Point on January 2 produced the following. The Meadows held AMERICAN BITTERN, N. PINTAIL, BUFFLEHEAD, HOODED MERGANSER, CANADA GOOSE, AMERICAN WIGEON, GADWALL, and from the dunes FORSTERS TERN, RUDDY TURNSTONE, SANDERLING, RED-THROATED LOON, and PURPLE SANDPIPER. Out on the water all 3 SCOTERS and RED- BREASTED MERGANSER were seen. Bunker Pond held N. SHOVELER, GREEN- WINGED TEAL, and HOODED MERGANSER. At Sunset Beach DOUBLE-CREASTED CORMORANT and GREAT CORMORANT roosted on the Concrete Ship and BONAPARTES GULLS and RED-THROATED LOONS were in the water, while LONG-TAILED DUCKS could be seen beyond. Lily Lake held a female REDHEAD, AMERICAN COOT, RUDDY DUCK, RING-NECKED DUCK, GADWALL, MALLARD, BLACK DUCK and AMERICAN WIGEON. 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.

Winter is a wonderful time to bird, as youve just learned and as youll obviously see from the following CBC results! CMBOs winter weekly bird walks (requiring no preregistration) have begun, a great way to explore many birding hotspots shared on this hotline. Every Sunday (8-10 a.m.), beginning January 22, Sunday Morning at Turkey Point meets at the end of Turkey Point Road. Every Other Sunday, beginning January 22, Nightfall at Jakes Landing meets at the end of Jakes Landing Road at 4 p.m. in January (Jan. 22, Feb. 5, 19, March 5, 19). Every other Sunday, beginning January 29, Nightfall at Corbin City Impoundments meets on Griscom Mill Rd. (off Rt. 50) in the Corbin City Hall parking lot at 4 p.m. in January (Jan. 29, Feb. 12, 26, March 12, 26). For details on each walk as well as CMBOs many preregistration programs go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

The CUMBERLAND CO. CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT (CBC), held on New Years Day, January 1, 2006, recorded a near record 131 species. One observer commented on the SNOW GOOSE spectacle, a delight with many, many thousands in the air at once, a common sight with so many eagles to haze them. 2 CACKLING GEESE were seen in the Bridgeton Area, one on East Lake and one flying over Garrison Rd. 12 cranes, including what appeared to be 9 (pure) SANDHILL CRANES, were seen roosting at dusk in a farm field at the end of Husted Landing. Many BALD EAGLES were seen and most adults were paired up and at or near their nests. 5 MERLINS were seen, including 2 roosting together in Bear Swamp West. Over 445 WILD TURKEY were seen, including 364 on Lebanon Road near Bridgeton. Turkey Point, especially near the bridge, was hot with 5 VIRGINIA RAIL, 3 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, 3 SEDGE WRENS, MARSH WRENS, 2 NELSONS SHARP-TAILED SPARROWS, 1 SALTMARSH SHARP-TAILED SPARROW, and 2 SEASIDE SPARROWS. The count swept the owls with many parties out for several hours predawn and one party beginning at 1 a.m.: 5 BARN, 69 SCREECH, 139 GREAT-HORNED, 8 BARRED, 7 LONG-EARED, and 13 SHORT-EARED OWLS. SHORT-EARED OWLS were seen in 5 territories: Hansey Creek Rd., Turkey Point, Fortescue, Newport Landing, Bay Point Road, and south side of Cohansey River. A flock of 270 HORNED LARKS were on Sheppards Farm fields on Bay Point Road. A BALTIMORE ORIOLE was in the town of Dividing Creek.

The BELLEPLAIN CBC, held on December 28, recorded 119 species. Highlights include: an AMERICAN BITTERN at Jakes Landing, many BALD EAGLES, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK (at Jakes Landing & Thompsons Beach), VIRGINIA RAIL (and a count week ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER) at Berrytown Road, SORA RAIL at Jakes Landing Road on the marsh along the road just as the road leaves the woods, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at Heislerville WMA, SHORT-EARED OWL and MARSH WREN at Jakes Ldn., WINTER WRENS along Maurice River, 2 PALM WARBLERS (1 between Stipson Road and Sutton Road and 1 at East Point), and 1 PINE WARBLER at Thompsons Beach.

The Stone Harbor Point SNOWY OWL (a very light bird, probably an immature male) was enjoyed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. What a present! It was seen there most recently on December 31. The same or a 2nd SNOWY OWL has been seen in Wildwood and Wildwood Crest since December 26, most recently (January 5) on the beach east of Sunset Lake. Its also been spotted near the Convention Center

Two All About Owls: Workshop & Field Trip with Pat Sutton are scheduled and both still have room. Saturday, January 7 (and 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. As part of CMBOs 2006 Cape May Birding Workshops Pat & Clay Sutton and Ward Dasey will teach a 3-Day Owls & Eagles Workshop, Saturday through Monday, January 21 - 23, 2006. There are only 2 spaces left! To register, call 609-861-0700, x-11. To learn more go to: http: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks06.html

Pete Dunne will be teaching a 2-Day Bird Watching For Beginners Course on January 13-14. Theres still room. To register or for more information call 609-861-0700, or go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

Its a GREAT time of year for GULLS! A LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was seen at Cape May Point on December 30. 30 BONAPARTES GULLS were at the Cape May Ferry Terminal on December 28. Did you look for any of these gulls and miss them? Some gulls take 3 years to mature, others 4 and 5 years. No wonder theyre so tough to master. Now through January and early February is an excellent time of year to study gull ID. 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. Want to be a better birder, more observant, more aware of what to pay attention to? Michael OBrien and Louise Zemaitis will teach a 1-Day Workshop on Techniques of Field Identification on Sunday, February 5. 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 (Warblers, Spring Migration, and Birding By Ear in May, Backyard Habitat in June, Butterflies in August, Terns in July, Shorebirds and Flycatchers, Vireos, and Fall Warblers in late August, Fall Migration and Falcons & Accipiters in September, Advanced Birding By Ear, Sparrows, and Raptors II in October, and Waterfowl in November ) go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks06.html

AMERICAN ROBINS have been thick this winter. Why? Their favored winter food is plentiful! AMERICAN HOLLY trees are full of holly berries because we were spared a late freeze last spring when they were in flower.

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, though it will be closed Monday, January 9.

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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