Cape May Natural History Hotline - 11/29/2001

You have reached the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This update was made on Thursday, November 29th. The Cape May Birding Hotline has moved to 609-898-BIRD (sorry for any inconvenience).

Both HUMPBACK and FIN WHALES were seen last weekend off Cape May County and close to shore. Observers on November 23rd, had 5 FIN WHALES and 2 HUMPBACK WHALES from the Cape May Whale Watcher. Saturday, November 24th's trip enjoyed 2-3 HUMPBACK WHALES. Each trip also was in the thick of the seabird migration, with numbers of N. GANNETS (some migrating by and many feeding), a good showing of PARASITIC JAEGERS, and an amazing number of lingering LAUGHING GULLS, including one flock of 100. December 1 and 2, weather permitting, will be the final whale watch trips of the season. If interested be at the Miss Chris Marina by 1 p.m. each of those days. Best bet is to call the Cape May Whale Watcher at 800-786-5445 to verify trip status.

The AVALON SEAWATCH (7th Street and the beach in Avalon) began on September 22nd. As of November 28th, 627,900 seabirds have been recorded there by Karl Bardon, the counter, and Brennan Mulrooney. Bring a scope and your binoculars and enjoy the flight of seabirds as they migrate south along the coastline, often passing quite close to the Seawatch at the north end of Avalon because it juts a mile out into the ocean. 59,999 RED-THROATED LOONS have been counted so far with 1,000s passing daily now, including a flight of 8,192 on November 23rd and 6,910 on the 24th. Small numbers of COMMON LOONS (in comparison) are passing daily also, 47 on November 22 and 24 on the 23rd. 28,991 N. GANNETS have been counted so far with 1,000s of birds passing some days, 100s other days. This week included the season's record gannet flight so far with 4,679 on November 22. 168,745 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT have been counted so far, the last big flight was 636 birds on November 21. Be alert for GREAT CORMORANTS mixed in, there was 1 on November 23, 2 on the 27th, and 1 on the 28th. LONG-TAILED DUCKS are daily now at the seawatch. The biggest WHITE-WINGED SCOTER flight so far this fall came on November 23rd when 167 were counted. The biggest BLACK SCOTER and SURF SCOTER flights occurred at the end of October when 107,303 were counted October 27-31. Hundreds, and some days thousands, of scoters are still being counted daily. RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS are steady now, with big flights on November 23rd (150) and 24th (403). 21 PARASITIC JAEGERS were seen this week, including 13 on the 22nd, 2 on the 23rd, 5 on the 26th, 2 on the 27th. 1 POMARINE JAEGER was seen on the 23rd. BONAPARTE'S GULLS are regular now from the seawatch, with 30 seen on November 28th The Avalon Seawatch's second RAZORBILL was seen November 23rd. A DOVEKIE was seen earlier in the fall on November 16th.

3 SNOWY OWLS at Forsythe NWR (known fondly as Brigantine) have entertained many this past week. The first bird showed up November 20th, two were seen there on the 22nd, and by the 24th 3 were being reported. They are favoring the East Pool and observers are doing a good job of noting where they've been seen last. On November 24th this observer found them close to the driving dike, in the southeast corner of the East Pool, one perched on a leaning post and the other on a small dead cedar tree. So, be sure to scan for extra bumps either on good perches or on the marsh or mud itself. They were quite close to each other, so close that when they became active as the afternoon light waned, one bird took off and dove on the other. Even heard one bird's call. The attack was brief and resulted in a swapping of favored perches.

The impoundments at Forsythe NWR are the best some of us remember in a long time. Packed with waterfowl, probably having something to do with duck season being "in." Expect nice close looks at thousands of SNOW GEESE, BLACK DUCKS, PINTAIL, and GREEN-WINGED TEAL. Also be looking for the flocks of HOODED MERGANSERS. TUNDRA SWANS have arrived too at Brig. One observer enjoyed 100s landing in West Pool, all calling. Imagine! What a spectacle. There are also 1000s of DUNLIN in the impoundments. It's a show stopper, especially a visit in the afternoon when the light is perfect to enjoy close waterfowl from the south dike.

The CAPE MAY HAWKWATCH is winding down, especially with the warm, foggy weather Cape May experienced this week. As of November 28th, 28,850 raptors have been recorded by Bruce McWorter, the counter, and Brennan Mulrooney. Highlights this week include an awfully late OSPREY on November 27, 3 BALD EAGLES (2 on the 23rd and 1 on the 27th, bringing the season's total to 229), 5 GOSHAWKS (2 on the 22nd, 2 on the 23rd, and 1 on the 27th, bringing the season's total to 29), a MERLIN on the 27th, and a PEREGRINE on the 23rd. To view the CMBO Hawkwatch daily totals, go to: http://www.capemaytimes.com/birds/hawkwatch.htm#totals

Katy Duffy and her husband, Patrick Matheny, ran the Cape May Owl Banding Project from October 25th through November 17th, at the peak of the owl migration, and documented a fabulous owl migration by banding 277 owls, including 1 BARN OWL, a record 70 LONG-EARED OWLS, and 206 SAW-WHET OWLS.

Following a good fall migration of owls like this one, good numbers of wintering owls occur, owls that journeyed no further and ended their migration here in southern New Jersey, especially in the habitat-rich Delaware Bayshore. So, this fall's owl migration bodes VERY WELL for CMBO's 4-day "Winter Workshop for Hawks, Owls, and Waterfowl," January 25-28, 2002; and there's still room on this workshop. Sign up now and plan to join us! For details go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calspec.html

450 AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER are again lingering on the flats behind Stone Harbor Point and might be enjoyed from Ocean Drive on Nummy's Island or from the free bridge just south of Stone Harbor or from Stone Harbor Point itself.

Sparrow stalkers on November 28th enjoyed 7 NELSON'S SHARP-TAILED SPARROWS, 10 SALTMARSH SHARP-TAILED SPARROWS, and 2 "IPSWICH" SAVANNAH SPARROWS on Ocean Drive near Two-Mile Landing, just north of Cape May.

A very late hummingbird came to a feeder at Barnegat Light on November 28th. Any hummingbird this late in the season is not likely to be a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, but one of the more western rarities. So, take careful notes, try to capture it on film or video, and be sure to call in your reports to CMBO.

CMBO's Monarch Monitoring Project (September 1 - October 31) tagged about 6,700 MONARCHS this fall. This year's team was made up of Chris Kisiel, our Monarch Migration Technician, Louise Zemaitis, Michael O'Brien, and LuAnn Tracy. Three of these tagged Monarchs were seen elsewhere along their journey as they headed to the mountains of Mexico (where they will spend the winter). Two were found by a fellow Monarch tagger in Chincoteague, Virginia, and 1 was just found in Orlando, Florida. Recoveries are so important to this project, documenting the route, timing, and survival of migrating Monarchs. For a history of CMBO's Monarch Monitoring Project and details on this fall's weekly road census, go to: http://www.concord.org/~dick/mon.html

CMBO's Avalon Seawatch reported a very late MONARCH on November 23rd. Other late butterflies seen this week include: ORANGE SULPHURS (11/25 at Hidden Valley), AMERICAN LADY (11/25 in Goshen), E. COMMA (11/21 in Cape May Point -- E. Commas will winter here as adults), MONARCH (11/27 in Cape May Point), and a female SACHEM (11/27 in Cape May Point).

New Jersey Audubon's web site has the Cape May County Butterfly Checklist available as a download: http://www.njaudubon.org/NatureNotes/bflies.html

And SPRING PEEPERS were calling on November 27th in Cape May Point. Yes, it's been unseasonably warm.

NJ's nesting BALD EAGLE population now stands at 31 pairs according to the NJ Endangered & Nongame Species Program. These adults do not migrate. Since early October observers have noticed that many of them are again spending time back at their nest. One observer on November 25 watched an adult Bald Eagle carrying sticks (i.e. nesting material) over the woods behind the impoundments at Forsythe NWR. The Stow Creek Bald Eagle nest blew down in early October. Both adults remain in the area near the giant Sycamore tree that held their original nest, and it is hoped that they will rebuild their nest. This nest has been one of the most successful, often producing 3 youngsters. Bald Eagles and Great Horned Owls are our earliest nesting birds, so they have already set up their nesting territories.

Most trees are bare and it is time to haunt the woods looking for old raptor, crow, or heron nests that Great Horned Owls may use as nest sites come January. Pairs of GREAT HORNED OWLS have been vocal most dawns and dusks, since September. Each pair is near its potential nest site. Their hooting is a declaration of the territory they've set up. If you should hear the male's hoot, "whoo-who-who-who, whoooo, whoooo," and the female's lower answer ("wooo woooo") you can be assured that a pair will nest somewhere nearby come January.

COYOTES continue to be seen and heard in the Higbee Beach area and along New England Road. These new residents are doing an excellent job of keeping feral cats under control, or so it seems, since very few feral cats have been seen since the Coyotes moved into the area . . . certainly a positive change for migratory songbirds!

The Cape May Bird Observatory has Saturday bird walks at Cape May Point, requiring no pre-registration, December 1, 8, and 15. These walks meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Cape May Point State Park on the raised picnic platform. The winter program schedule, covering January thru March, is now available & on its way to members. If you are not a member and would like a copy, stop by our centers or call 609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's WEB SITE at: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

The Cape May Bird Observatory is a research and education unit of the New Jersey Audubon Society. Our aim is to perpetuate and preserve the ornithological and natural history significance of Cape May. Your membership supports these goals and this hotline. For more information call 609-861-0700 or send a request for information to CMBO, 600 Route 47 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210. Our two centers are CMBO's Center for Research & Education at 600 Route 47 North in Goshen and CMBO's Northwood Center at 701 East Lake Drive in Cape May Point.

The Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline is a service of New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory and details sightings from Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties and near shore waters. Updates are made on Thursday evenings. Please report natural history sightings to CMBO at 609-861-0700 or 609-884-2736. For the Cape May Birding Hotline call 609-898-BIRD. Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!

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