Cape May Natural History Hotline - 11/20/2003

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, November 20. 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.

CMBO's Avalon Seawatch (7th street and the beach in Avalon), sponsored by Nikon Sports Optics, is in the capable hands of Seabird Counter, Andy Wraithmell, from the United Kingdom and co-counter Bob Diebold, counting from pre-dawn to sometimes after dark! This watch began September 22 and continues until December 22! As of November 18, the Avalon Seawatch has counted an astounding 727,400 seabirds! Highlights from this past week include "MEGA" RED-THROATED LOON flights (8,300 on 11/15, 6,400 on 11/16, 2,900 on 11/17, and 3,050 on 11/18), close looks at RED-NECKED GREBE (1 on 11/16 and 1 on 11/18), spectacular close flights of lots of N. GANNET (1,400 on 11/15, 2,500 on 11/17, and 1,400 on 11/18), the 3rd KING EIDER of the fall on November 16, COMMON EIDERS daily including 14 on November 18 of which 3 were adult males, the 13th HARLEQUIN DUCK of the fall on November 18, a big push of LONG-TAILED DUCKS (292) on November 15, many thousands of scoters daily including the falls largest flight of WHITE-WINGED SCOTER so far (157 on 11/15), a heavy movement of PARASITIC JAEGERS (9 on 11/10, 7 on 11/11, 14 on 11/12, 27 on 11/13, 2 on 11/14, 1 on 11/15, 3 on 11/16, and 2 on 11/17), and a LITTLE GULL on November 12. The flights at the Avalon Seawatch are so fascinating because they're so diverse. Daily flights also include COMMON LOONS (66 on 11/15), thousands of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT with a few GREAT CORMORANT mixed in (5 on 11/15, 1 on 11/17 & 11/18), SNOW GEESE, BRANT, TUNDRA SWANS (8 on 11/15), WOOD DUCKS (21 on 11/14), N. PINTAIL (30 on 11/15), GREEN-WINGED TEAL (58 on 11/18), GREATER SCAUP (35 on 11/15), LESSER SCAUP (49 on 11/18), BLACK SCOTER (7,200 on 11/18), SURF SCOTER (6,930 on 11/18), COMMON GOLDENEYE (6 on 11/15), BUFFLEHEAD (112 on 11/14), HOODED MERGANSER (44 on 11/14), RED-BREASTED MERGANSER (233 on 11/18), BONAPARTE'S GULL (511 on 11/16), and hundreds to thousands of other gulls (3,190 RING-BILLED GULLS on 11/14).

The Avalon Seawatch continues to enjoy PURPLE SANDPIPER on the jetty and MONARCHS. As of November 18, 8,620 MONARCHS have been counted at the Avalon Seawatch this fall, including 5 individuals this week, one as late as November 18. A special treat on November 18 was a HARBOR SEAL in the inlet.

CMBO's "Gannet" field trip on November 15 to the Two Mile Beach Unit of the Cape May NWR enjoyed a flock of 10 COMMON EIDER and WHITE-WINGED SCOTER in the waters near the two-mile long Cold Spring Jetty.

At the north end of Long Beach Island the jetty at Barnegat Light State Park attracts a flock of HARLEQUIN DUCKS each late fall and winter. The first arrivals were found there (2 birds) on November 16.

So, as you can see, waterfowl has arrived in force. Enjoy the great variety migrating by the Avalon Seawatch and elsewhere. Also consider signing up for CMBO's popular "Waterfowl Cruise," aboard the Skimmer, Saturday, November 29 (11 a.m.-3:00 p.m.); 12 spaces left a/o November 20. This cruise explores back bay waters north to Stone Harbor to see thousands of water birds, including mergansers, loons, scaup, Horned Grebe, Bufflehead, Long-tailed Ducks, N. Harrier, Great Cormorant, shorebirds (maybe the LONG-BILLED CURLEW will linger again!), and most of the Atlantic Coast population of Brant which winter here in our back bay waters. "Birding From the Ferry" with Mark Garland on Saturday, December 13 (7:00-11:00 a.m.) is one more special way to drink in seabirds like N. Gannet and waterfowl. Call CMBO, 609-861-0700, x-11, to register now either of these trips while spaces are still available.

Explore the other Cape by joining Mark Garland for his annual "Cape Henlopen and Broadkill Marsh in Delaware" on Saturday, November 22 (9:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.). There are 11 spaces left! Call CMBO, 609-861-0700, x-11, to register for "Cape Henlopen" while spaces are still available.

CMBO's "Birding Cumberland" field trip on Sunday, November 30 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.), still has 6 openings. The trip will be led by Clay Sutton, author of "Birding Cumberland," Pat Sutton, and Steve Eisenhauer, Preserve Manager of the Natural Lands Trust's Glades Wildlife Refuge, totaling 5,500 acres. A scouting trip through Cumberland County on November 15 enjoyed some fine birds to tickle your fancy: lots of BALD EAGLES, a GOLDEN EAGLE, RUSTY BLACKBIRDS, BLUE-HEADED VIREO, 12 FOX SPARROWS, PURPLE FINCH, PINE SISKINS, 2 large flocks of AMERICAN PIPET (160 total), 400 RUDDY DUCKS, 160 RING-NECKED DUCKS, and a ROSS GOOSE mixed in with a large flock of Canada Geese. Call CMBO, 609-861-0700, x-11, to register for "Birding Cumberland" while spaces are still available.

A few hummingbirds have reappeared in the past week and ALL in backyard habitats created by CMBO members who attended our "Backyard Habitat Workshops" over the years. Plant it and they will come! Recent frosts "did in" flowers, so feeders are holding the birds, but also insects on warm days. Each of these backyard habitats are nature / insect friendly! (1) A SELASPHORUS HUMMINGBIRD showing some characteristics of ALLEN'S HUMMINGBIRD (but RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD has not been ruled out) has been frequenting feeders at 1012 Cape May Avenue off of Madison Avenue in Cape May City (the backyard habitat of Evelyn Lovitz & Michael McCabe) since November 15. Please view their two feeders from the sidewalk in front of the house. (2) A RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD, first found November 13, continues in the gardens at the corner of Cambridge and Coral in Cape May Point (the backyard habitat of Edie & Bill Schul). Please view from the street. (3) Another RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD is coming to Ro and Larry Wilson's backyard habitat on Bayshore Road north of the Rea Farm. (4) An immature male RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD has been at a private yard in Villas with no public access since November 11. So, as we have shared on this hotline since the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds departed in early October, keep your feeders up and maintained (clean and refill weekly), and be sure to alert CMBO if you attract a hummingbird especially since it is more likely to be a rarity from the west than a Ruby-throated Hummingbird this late in the season.

Katy Duffy and her husband Patrick Matheny headed back to Montana today (November 20) after running this fall's Cape May Owl Banding Project since late October. They ended the season having banded 73 N. SAW-WHET OWLS and 3 LONG-EARED OWLS. The owl migration will continue through mid-December. Owl banding stations to the north in Canada banded over 2,300 Saw-whet Owls earlier this fall and stations from Maine south to Maryland and Virginia are still banding owls. Despite a lull in SHORT-EARED OWL sightings from Cape May County this week, reports are shared on the "Voice of New Jersey Audubon" for November 20 of birds seen at Island Beach State Park, Sandy Hook, and Walkill River NWR.

Big owl numbers during migration often means big numbers wintering along South Jersey's Delaware Bayshore. Let's hope so! If you're keen on owls, be sure to sign up for the "All About Owls: Workshop & Field Trip" with Pat Sutton, offered Sunday, December 7 (12:30-5:00 p.m.). Everyone in the know realizes that to really guarantee owls, 3-4 days of field time is the key, since many different sites need to be visited and weather can't always be predicted. For that reason, CMBO once again will offer its popular "4-day Workshop for Owls, Hawks, & Eagles" (January 23-26, 2004) with Pat and Clay Sutton and Ward Dasey, 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. Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register for these owl workshop offerings.

GREAT HORNED OWLS have been dueting since mid-October, at dusk and dawn, all over the Cape May Peninsula declaring the nesting territory they will use in January and might be found silhouetted against the horizon at last light by keen observers. With West Nile Virus having taken a toll on owls, be alert and notice if your local Great Horneds are calling.

Butterfly and dragonfly sightings have quieted, but not stopped! This week's reports include a sprinkling of MONARCHS at the Avalon Seawatch, Cape May, the "Meadows," and the Rea Farm. CABBAGE WHITE, ORANGE SULPHUR, RED ADMIRAL, and AMERICAN LADY were also seen. 6 COMMON GREEN DARNERS were seen in Cumberland County on November 15 and several YELLOW-LEGGED MEADOWHAWKS were seen in Eldora on November 17. If you're keen to learn dragonflies, NEWS FLASH: a GREAT ! ! ! new "Field Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies of Massachusetts," by Blair Nikula and 2 other authors, is now available for sale at CMBO. It includes full color, larger than life photos of 160+ live (in the field shots of) dragonflies and damselflies known to occur in Massachusetts (many of which also occur in NJ), plus excellent natural history information! We have no excuses now with this book and Blair Nikula and Jackie Sones' "Beginner's Guide to Dragonflies" in the Stokes series (also EXCELLENT ! ! !). The stretch of warm weather also brought out a N. WATER SNAKE on November 15 at "the Meadows."

CMBO's Cape May Hawkwatch, sponsored by Swarovski Optik this fall, is in the capable hands of hawkwatchers Jason Guerard and Bob Diebold. The season's total reached 43,489 on November 16. Highlights this week include: a late OSPREY (11/15), 5 more BALD EAGLES (170 so far this fall), 78 N. HARRIER on 11/15, 125 SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS on 11/15, 2 N. GOSHAWKS (11/15 & 11/16 bringing the season total to 7 so far), 52 RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS on 11/15, and 115 RED-TAILED HAWKS on 11/15. Today's flight is not yet available, but I'll bet it was GREAT! An immature GOLDEN EAGLE flew over CMBO's center in Goshen today, November 20, mid-day heading down Sluice Creek and out toward the Delaware Bay.

Jakes Landing is a great place to take a walk in late fall. On November 15, lots of kinglets entertained as well as a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER and a BROWN CREEPER. MARSH WRENS still frequent the vegetation along the road through the marsh. And on November 16 lots of AMERICAN WOODCOCK were along the road pre-dawn. An EASTERN PHOEBE hunted bugs from the back railing at CMBO's Center in Goshen on November 16. AMERICAN GOLDFINCH are coming to backyard thistle feeders in good numbers now after a lengthy absence. Look for PINE SISKINS mixed in. Roving flocks of EUROPEAN STARLINGS are descending on RED CEDAR trees and eating the berries.

It's the peak of rarity season and late fall migration and there are still lots of ways to enjoy it. CMBO offerings include the following walks that require no preregistration! EVERY WEDNESDAY through December 10: " Birding Cape May Point," 7:30-9:30 a.m. EVERY FRIDAY through December 12 (except November 28): "Late Fall Birding at Cape May" with Mark Garland (8-10 a.m.). EVERY SATURDAY through December 13: "Fall Migrants at the Rea Farm," 7:30-9:30 a.m.

To explore the normally inaccessible back bay marshes, join Captain Bob Carlough on one of the CMBO sponsored "Back Bay Birding By Boat" cruises aboard "The Skimmer," Sunday (10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.), through November 23. Call Wildlife Unlimited (609-884-3100) to register for these CMBO-sponsored trips.

If you are in the market for a holiday gift to yourself or a special friend, be sure to attend the "Optics Workshop" at CMBO's Center in Goshen on Sunday, November 23 (1-3 p.m.) to learn just the right pair of binoculars or telescope to buy! To register call 609-861-0700, x-11. CMBO will next teach the "Nikon School of Birding" Friday, January 30, through Sunday, February 1. 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.

To receive CMBO's WINTER Program Schedule, stop at one of the two centers, 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 - February, and a few of the March programs) is posted 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 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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