Cape May Natural History Hotline - 1/8/2004

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 8. 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.

We trust you are all savoring a bird-filled NEW YEAR.

ALERT! It is still DEER HUNTING season! The last day of Muzzleloading Season is January 9. Winter Bow Season continues till January 31, except Sundays. Birders and naturalists should take precautions and wear blaze orange (hat or vest) when in the woods in Cape May and Cumberland Counties. Sundays are safe all over NJ since there is NO HUNTING on SUNDAYS.

The Great Egg Harbor River area continues to be raptor rich this winter. An adult GOLDEN EAGLE was seen from the Corbin City WMA observation platform and 9 BALD EAGLES (7 adults, 1 subadult, and 1 immature) were seen the length of the river on January 7. To learn this

complex area sign up for CMBO's field trip to "Tuckahoe and Corbin City WMAs" with Pat Sutton & Karen Johnson on Sunday, February 15 (2-6 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register while openings last!

Barnegat Light State Park at the north end of Long Beach Island is always a good winter birding spot, but this winter it is exceptional! A

possible record-sized flock for New Jersey of HARLEQUIN DUCKS (40 on Jan

3) are there this winter, but visitors may only see 14-20/ visit because

the birds can be anywhere alongside the jetty and are often scattered all the way out to the end. Look for IPSWICH SPARROW on the jetty. One

might all-of-a-sudden appear out of the rock crevices and just as rapidly disappear back down into the rocks. A few LAPLAND LONGSPURS have been feeding on the ground and flying from spot to spot with the local flock of HORNED LARKS or SNOW BUNTINGS. 30-40 COMMON REDPOLLS were there on Jan. 3. The COMMON EIDERS and KING EIDERS move around with the tides and may be near or as far away as the distant jetty on the other side of the inlet. Be patient or visit later in the day and the tide might bring them closer. The inlet visible from the Barnegat Light jetty is also an excellent place to study the regulars, BONAPARTE'S GULL, LONG-TAILED DUCK, COMMON LOON, and RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, as they feed close by and interact. "A Guide to Bird Finding

in New Jersey," by Bill Boyle's, pp. 273-276 (available at CMBO's bookstores) makes your visit easy. Be sure to also visit nearby Manahawkin WMA and Cedar Run Dock Road (pp. 269-273, Boyle's book) in the afternoon / early evening for Short-eared Owls and Rough-legged Hawks! CMBO's "Longtails In Love" trip on Saturday, February 14 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) still has openings. Longtails are displaying now, but will be really wound up by mid-February! Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register.

It's a good winter for SHORT-EARED OWLS. They are at all their usual haunts (Jakes Landing, Hansey Creek, Turkey Point, Fortescue, Corbin City & Tuckahoe WMA, Brigantine NWR), though don't wait till "last light" to see them. This winter quite a few birds are being seen well before dusk, by 2:30 a.m. or earlier, and then absent at dusk, their normal time of activity! 5 were seen at Brigantine NWR on December 27 and 2 on January 6. Keep an eye out for ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS too at these

same sites. A dark ROUGH-LEG was at Jakes Landing Jan. 8.

Owling conditions were perfect, from midnight until dawn, on both the Belleplain CBC (December 21) and the Cumberland CBC (December 28). Each

night was deathly still, cold, clear, and star-filled. The 21st was accented by numerous shooting stars! And dusk on the 28th was accented by the green flash! And owls cooperated: #s of GREAT HORNED OWLS (111 on Dec. 28) and SCREECH OWLS (67 on Dec. 28), and a fair representation of BARRED (7 in 4 territories on Dec. 28), N. SAW-WHET (4 on Dec. 28), BARN (3 on Dec. 28), and LONG-EARED OWL (5 on Dec. 28) on each of the two counts. So, with the numerous sightings of SHORT-EARED OWLS (14 on Dec. 28 in 5 territories) each of these counts swept the owls to be expected (only SNOWY OWL went missing). One party on December 28, stepped out of their car at an "owly" spot and had 7 owls calling (3 species) without even trying to lure them in with imitations or tapes. One of the Short-eared Owls was spotted as it dive bombed a plastic owl on a rooftop at Fortescue. Another was robbed of its prey by a Bald Eagle at Turkey Point.

Between December 16 and January 6, 5 road-killed SAW-WHET OWLS have been

found in Cape May County (and 1 in Cumberland County): 3 on the Garden State Parkway between mile marker 0.2 and mm 16.7, 1 on Rte 347 just south of the Cumberland County line, and 1 on Rte 55 at mm 35). These birds were probably wintering near the road and made the mistake of crossing the road to hunt the other shoulder. Unfortunately they hunt low, bumper-level, listening for prey. Be on the alert. Also, be sure to check their legs for an aluminum band and, if found, report the band number and data (date found, condition, location where found, finder) to

the USGS at 1-800-327-2263. And let CMBO know what you learned too. 1,000s of SAW-WHET OWLS were banded this fall in Canada and New England and the likelihood of learning where a wintering bird has come from is quite good! If a road-kill is in good shape, document when & where found and bring this information and the bird to the Cape May Bird Observatory.

If you want to spend 4 days with like-minded owl enthusiasts, sign up for CMBO's popular "4-day Workshop for Owls, Hawks, & Eagles" (January 23-26, 2004) with Pat and Clay Sutton and Ward Dasey. As you've just learned, it's a very owly winter. Saw-whet, Long-eared, Barn, Short-eared, Barred, Great Horned, and Screech Owl are all enjoyed most years during this workshop and quite often Snowy Owl too. CMBO's complete listing of other "2004 Cape May Birding Workshops" can be seen at New Jersey Audubon's web site at (with more details added in January and a brochure printed and sent to members in January): http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks04.html

Another owly offering is the "All About Owls: Workshop & Field Trip" with Pat Sutton, offered: Saturday, January 17, and again on Wednesday, January 21 (1:00-5:30 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register for these owl workshop offerings.

The Cumberland County Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on December 28, had great weather and 61 participants who recorded 136 species, tieing the all time record high count for this CBC. Aside from the owls already mentioned, other highlights follow. GREAT EGRETS were plentiful (13). A GLOSSY IBIS was seen at Turkey Point. 58,000 SNOW GEESE were tallied,

a record! The day was filled with a din or them calling for any party near the Cohansey River. One party guesstimated 30,000 Snow Geese, but joked that there could easily be 30 million -- strings of them filled the skies as far as the eye could see! 12 raptor species were tallied (14 counting vultures). 42 BALD EAGLES (21 adults, 14 immatures, 7 unidentified) were seen. An OSPREY was discovered prior to the CBC on December 26 hunting fish in the pond behind the Dividing Creek Fire Hall, seen again on the 28th during the count (the 6th count record, and

the 3rd Osprey on this count in the last 4 years -- a global-warming trend?), and again on January 3. A GOLDEN EAGLE at Bear Swamp West / Beaver Dam area was seen prior to the count (Dec. 26), the day of the count, and again January 1. 77 WILD TURKEY were seen in 5 territories. 5 CRANES (too far to ID as pure SANDHILLS) were seen near Husted Landing. 25 AMERICAN WOODCOCK were tallied, including one in full display over Bevan WMA pre-dawn. A LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (1st winter) was at the Maple Avenue impoundments near Dividing Creek. A PILEATED WOODPECKER was seen at Bear Swamp West. The mini-invasion of COMMON REDPOLLS accounted for 16 seen in 3 territories. "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 with Pat Sutton and a host of other raptor enthusiasts on Saturday, January 31 (8

a.m. to 5 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register while there are still openings!

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS were feasting on a luscious crop of Poison Ivy berries along the Delaware Bayshore on December 28. A flock of 500+ EUROPEAN STARLINGS was dropping into Red Cedar trees and consuming cedar

berries on December 28. In late December, SNOW BUNTINGS were seen at the Cape May Point State Park in the dunes, perched on Beach Grass and eating the seeds.

Before the temperatures plummeted, butterflies, moths, and frogs were being reported. Dale Schweitzer of Cumberland County reports that between January 1 and January 5, 2004, he's seen close to 1,000 moths of

21 species (in 3 families) coming to his bait. When temperatures dropped on the 6th, all moth activity ceased! A QUESTION MARK and a SULPHUR were flying in Cumberland County on January 3. Both CABBAGE WHITE and CLOUDED SULPHUR were seen on the Cumberland Co. CBC on December 28. Mustard was in bloom on December 26. Dandelions have been

in bloom most of December. LEOPARD FROGS were sunning in Eldora on December 24. GREEN FROGS and SPRING PEEPERS were calling at the Rea Farm on January 3. 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! Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register.

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 (beginning January 18), "Nightfall at Jakes Landing," 4:30 p.m. to dusk; (beginning January 25) "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 out 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, 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.

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)

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