Cape May Natural History Hotline - 12/1/2005
Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline -- December 1, 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, December 1. New Jersey Audubon's three hotlines can be read in full on our website (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on "Sightings" (top of any page).

Christmas Bird Counts are coming up. Dates and organizers follow: (1) Cape May CBC will be on Sunday, December 18; contact Louise Zemaitis to participate (609) 898-9578 or swallowtailstudio at comcast.net. (2) Belleplain CBC will be on Wednesday, December 28; contact Paul Kosten to participate (609) 861-5827 or floraff at algorithms.com. (3) Cumberland County CBC will be on Sunday, January 1; contact Pat & Clay Sutton to participate (609) 465-3397 or patclaysutton at comcast.net.

ALERT: HUNTING SEASON is underway. In Cape May County the six-day firearm season runs from December 5-10. Permit shotgun season runs from December 14-16. Permit muzzle loader season runs from Dec. 12, 13, 17-31, and January 2-6, 2006. In New Jersey there is no hunting on Sundays. Hunting is closed at Higbee Beach from September 1 through December 12, but open to Woodcock hunting there between December 23-31.

Our fall programs are winding down, but our winter programs have lots of opportunities to get out and learn. For details on the many CMBO programs go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

The Avalon Seawatch is having a terrific season and still going strong! As of November 29, 788,747 seabirds have been tallied. Thousands upon thousands of birds are going by daily: 6,000 on 11/29, 13,200 on 11/28, 29,400 on 11/27, 31,000 on 11/26, 12,700 on 11/25. The biggest flight of the fall at the seawatch to date was 71,436 seabirds occurred on 11/9. To date 33,500 RED-THROATED LOONS have passed (7,350 on 11/26, 4,100 on 11/27, 2,300 on 11/28, 1,470 on 11/29). To date 85,623 N. GANNETS have passed with huge numbers daily so far in November (1,850 on 11/25, 3,500 on 11/26, 4,100 on 11/27, 2,170 on 11/28, and 1,040 on 11/29). GREAT CORMORANTS are daily (9 on 11/25, 3 on 11/26, 4 on 11/27, and 1 on 11/29). To date 171,735 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS have passed (peak flight of 16,382 on 10/28). To date 10,118 GREEN-WINGED TEAL have passed (peak flight of 2,445 on 11/9). To date 78 COMMON EIDER (peak flight of 43 on 11/28). To date 384,605 scoters; on 11/27 the flight included 12,424 BLACK SCOTER, 4,872 SURF SCOTER, 100 WHITE-WINGED SCOTER. To date 80 PARASITIC JAEGERS (1 on 11/28, 2 on 11/20, 2 on 11/18). To date 6 RAZORBILLS (1 each on 11/26, 11/27, 11,28, and 2 on 11/29). To date 8 HARLEQUIN DUCKS (1 each on 11/26, 11/24, 11/23, 11/15, 11/14, 11/9, 11/7). To date 3 RED-NECKED GREBE (2 on 11/27, 1 on 11/29). To date 2 ICELAND GULLS (11/20 and 11/15). To date 1 POMARINE JAEGER on 11/15, 1 LITTLE GULL on 9/24, 2 KING EIDERS (11/26 and 11/14), 1 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE on 10/15, 2 FRANKLINS GULLS on 11/8, and 1 PACIFIC LOON on 11/16. To date thereve been 2,014 COMMON LOONS, 72 HORNED GREBE, 538 LONG-TAILED DUCKS, 1,861 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, BONAPARTES GULLS are daily . . . And the show goes on. The Avalon Seawatch ROCKS! Due to construction of a new seawall the Avalon Seawatch at the north end of Avalon has been juggeling between the road end at 7th Street (if construction is quiet) to the jetty or beach at 8th Street (if construciton at 7th Street is disruptive).


The CAPE MAY HAWKWATCH came to a close on November 30. A total of 41,283 raptors were tallied this fall. The final week was relatively quiet, weather-wise and bird-wise. But winds today, after the official count ended, probably created a late season hawk flight. This weeks flights included 10 BALD EAGLES, 5 N. GOSHAWKS (2 on 11/30, 1 each on 11/27, 11/26, 11/24), close to 100 RED-SHOULDERS (66 on 11/25, 14 on 11/26), 129 REDTAILS on 11/25, no Rough-legs or Golden Eagles, a final MERLIN on 11/25, and a final PEREGRINE on 11/28. The season ended with 2,446 OSPREY, 262 BALD EAGLES, 1,219 OSPREY, 15,305 SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS, 5,829 COOPERS HAWKS (a new record), 23 N. GOSHAWK, 699 RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS, 580 BROAD-WINGED HAWKS, 3 SWAINSONS HAWKS, 2,327 RED-TAILED HAWKS, 1 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, 12 GOLDEN EAGLES, 6,163 AMERICAN KESTREL, 1,775 MERLIN, and 1,164 PEREGRINES.

4 OSPREY were still along the Tuckahoe River on November 17. A WHITE PELICAN was soaring over Jeffers Landing on the Great Egg Harbor River on November 17.

The Cape May Owl Banding Project banded over 100 SAW-WHET OWLS and 9 LONG-EARED OWLS this fall, between @ October 27 and November 19. A road-killed SAW-WHET OWL was found November 23 on the Garden State Parkway. SHORT-EARED OWLS are frequenting some of their favorite winter haunts. 1 was at Jakes Landing on November 27 between 4:30 and 5 p.m.

CMBO has 3 All About Owls: Workshop & Field Trip scheduled: (1) on Saturdays, December 3 (Noon to 5 p.m.), (2) Saturday, January 7 (1-5:30 p.m.), (3) Saturday, January 28 (1-5:30 p.m) They all still have room. The 3-Day Owl and Eagle Workshop (January 21-23, 2006) with Pat & Clay Sutton and Ward Dasey still has room and is held at the peak time of year to see owls and eagles (when many winter here). For full details on this and CMBOs other Cape May Birding Workshops, go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks06.html To register or learn more information call 609-861-0700, x-11.

Close to 400 RED KNOT were on the beach in Avalon on November 14, between 32nd and 38th Streets, along with 2,500 DUNLIN and about 30 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER.

PURPLE FINCHES and PINE SISKINS have been fairly regular at backyard bird feeders. FOX SPARROWS are IN.

HUMMINGBIRD sightings are scarce now. But this is when rare western hummingbirds often show up. So, if you havent taken your feeder down, continue to clean and maintain it right through December. And call us if you have a hummingbird.

It was an incredible fall for MONARCHS. The Avalon Seawatch tallied 4,472 this fall with peak flights of 2,011 on September 27 and 1,538 on October 1. Monarchs were still being seen at the Seawatch in early November with the last sighting of 2 on November 20. A Monarch emerged in a garden in Tuckahoe on November 13. To learn of the history of the Monarch migration through Cape May go to: http://www.njaudubon.org then click on Research and then on Monarch Monitoring Project.

Any warm spell may still entertain with butterflies. A LONG-TAILED SKIPPER was in CMBOs Gardens in Goshen on November 6, nectaring on Butterfly Bushes. On November 30, a COMMON GREEN DARNER, YELLOW- LEGGED MEADOWHAWK, E. COMMA, and ORANGE SULPHUR were seen in Salem County at the Natural Lands Trusts Burden Hill, while a Questionmark was seen at Bivalve in Cumberland County. A CLOUDLESS SULPHUR was seen in Goshen on November 14.

Heavy RIVER OTTER sign was seen November 12 in the Cape May NWR on the Schellenger Farm track, including multiple slides, fresh scat full of fish bones and scales, and tracks in the marsh at low tide right along the dike into Green Creek marsh. A RIVER OTTER was swimming in Lily Lake on October 27, quite content as it caught and feasted on fish.

COYOTES are regularly heard, and sometimes seen, along New England Road. Locals think there are between 14 and 22 individuals.

The Capes fall colors were dazzling November 16. But rain and wind blew leaves from the trees and by November 18 the landscape was wintery. Frosts between November 23-26 did in the last of the late blooming flowers: Pineapple Sage, Tropical Salvia, and a few Butterfly Bush flowers.

CMBOs bookstore hours are as follows: Northwood Center in Cape May Point will be open Thursday through Monday, 9-4:30 (CLOSED: Tuesday and Wednesday). The Center for Research and Education on Route 47 in Goshen is open 7 days a week, 9-4:30. Both Centers will be closed the week between Christmas and New Years, from December 24 - January 1.

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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