Cape May Natural History Hotline - 12/13/2001

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, December 13th. The Cape May Birding Hotline has moved to 609-898-BIRD (sorry for any inconvenience).

The AVALON SEAWATCH (7th Street and the beach in Avalon) began on September 22nd. As of December 10th, 684,000 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. 72,000 RED-THROATED LOONS have been counted so far, with 400-1,500 passing daily. Daily flights also include 1-9 COMMON LOONS, 40-350 N. GANNETS, 4-50 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, 0-1 GREAT CORMORANT, 10-230 LONG-TAILED DUCK, 100-4,200 BLACK SCOTER, 100-800 SURF SCOTER, 20-200 WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, and 10-75 RED-BREASTED MERGANSER. Other highlights mixed in this week include: 2 BROWN PELICAN on December 6 and 2 PARASITIC JAEGER on December 7 (bringing the Parasitic Jaeger season total to 162 so far). For a look at some of the past years of CMBO's Avalon Seawatch, go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Research/seawatch.html

OTHER WATERFOWL NEWS . . . A big raft of SCAUP has developed (@ 2,500) in the Maurice River cove, seen December 10. HARLEQUIN DUCKS are IN at the Barnegat Lighthouse jetty. Harlequin Ducks winter around this jetty annually. Sometimes the birds are up near the lighthouse, other times one has to walk the jetty or beach almost out the end. They can be close and hugging the jetty, so be stealthy in your approach or they may swim away as you approach. Find time for a walk out Stone Harbor Point or a drive across Nummy's Island right now to enjoy the 1000s of BRANT and a huge flock of wintering AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (100s). Look in the back bay areas for feeding BUFFLEHEAD, another winter treat.

The impoundments at Bivalve were shorebird-rich on December 10 with 3,000+ DUNLIN, 1 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER, 78 LEAST SANDPIPER, and 17 SEMIPALMATED PLOVER.

1-2 SNOWY OWLS at Forsythe NWR (known fondly as "Brig" or "Brigantine Refuge") continue to be seen, most recently 2 were reported December 9. The first bird showed up November 20, two were seen Nov. 22, and by Nov. 24 3 were being reported. They are favoring the East Pool, often perching quite close to the driving dikes, and observers are doing a good job of noting where they've been seen last. Be sure to scan for extra bumps either on good perches or on the marsh or mud itself.

2 LONG-EARED OWLS were found at a winter roost on private property along Cape May County's Delaware Bayshore on December 9th. They were expected after the excellent fall migration (documented by the CAPE MAY OWL BANDING PROJECT) where 70 Long-ears were banded. Perhaps the Cape May CBC on December 16 will turn up additional wintering owls.

Any hummingbird seen this late in the season is NOT likely to be a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, but instead a western rarity. This November and December quite a few western hummingbirds have been found in New Jersey. (1) A RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD (now determined to be an immature male -- with rufous on its back), first found December 8, continues at a feeder in Cape May Point (404 Central Avenue, 1 block from Lily Lake), most recently reported today, December 13. It can be viewed from your car from the roadshoulder; feeder is on the left side of the house. (2) A female RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD (positively ID'd when, at the yard owner's request, it was banded), first found November 28, continued at a feeder in Barnegat Light at least until December 8. (3) reports from North Jersey include 2 CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRDS in New York City, seen as recently as December 8. So, if you should see a hummingbird now, take careful notes, try to capture it on film or video, and be sure to call in your reports to CMBO.

BALD EAGLES are paired up and being seen near their nests now. A new nest was discovered this week in Cumberland County, visible from the end of Berrytown Road looking west past Hansey Creek Road to the next treeline. It held 2 adults on December 10th. This brings NJ's nesting BALD EAGLE population up to 32 pairs. NJ's breeding Bald Eagles do not migrate and by early October begin spending much time at or near their nests, being one of our earliest nesting birds. 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.

It is time to haunt the woods looking for old raptor, crow, or heron nests that Great Horned Owls may nest in come January. Pairs of GREAT HORNED OWLS have been very vocal of late at dawn and dusk. 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.

FYI, it is now DEER HUNTING SEASON, so be extra cautious when walking in the woods. SUNDAYS are SAFE all over New Jersey; there is NO HUNTING on SUNDAYS. Roughly from December 3 through January 4 (in Cape May County) birders / naturalists should take precautions and wear something blaze orange (hat or vest) when in the woods. December 3-8 and December 12-14 is SHOTGUN season in Cape May County. On these dates we should probably all avoid walking in the woods. NJ is broken up into 45+ zones, each with its own hunting dates; check the "New Jersey Fish & Wildlife Digest" for dates that apply to areas near you.

The meadow at CMBO's Center for Research & Education in Goshen has attracted a feeding flock of E. BLUEBIRDS that may very well winter at this site. The wildflower and tall grass meadow, as well as the still standing gardens (full of plant stalks and seed heads), is insect rich and very attractive to wintering bluebirds, just the way we planned it in CMBO's "Model Backyard Habitat."

Rainy weather this week kept late season butterfly and dragonfly reports down. A worn AMERICAN LADY on December 7th at Reeds Beach was this week's only report.

SPRING PEEPERS continue to call with the warm weather, including several on December 13th in West Cape May.

COYOTE reports continue to come in south of the Cape May Canal, and for eastern Coyotes they are being very vocal. One group has been heard along Route 626 or Seashore Road a mile or so south of the Canal. One or two groups have been heard from New England Road, one on either side. 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's 2001 CAPE MAY HAWKWATCH, sponsored by Swarovski Optic and manned by Bruce McWorter (the counter) and Brennan Mulrooney, recorded 28,851 raptors between September 1 and November 30. Species totals and peak flights follow. 104 BLACK VULTURE (25 on Nov. 11 & 17); 1,051 TURKEY VULTURE (200 on Nov. 11); 1,645 OSPREY (143 on Sept. 29); 229 BALD EAGLE (16 on Oct. 7); 1,204 N. HARRIER (76 on Oct. 27); 12,927 SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (730 on Oct. 18); 1,874 COOPER'S HAWK (92 on Oct. 28); 29 GOSHAWK (5 on Nov. 17); 343 RED-SHOULDERED HAWK (61 on Oct. 28); 1,229 BROAD-WINGED HAWK (421 on Sept. 28); 1 SWAINSON'S HAWK on Oct. 26; 1,049 RED-TAILED HAWK (168 on Oct. 28); -0- "NO" ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS (from the Hawkwatch this fall); 10 GOLDEN EAGLE (3 on Nov. 6); 5,188 AMERICAN KESTREL (944 on Oct. 7); 1,380 MERLIN (177 on Oct. 25); 588 PEREGRINE (55 on Oct. 6); 28,851 TOTAL RAPTORS (1,827 on Oct. 7). For a look at the first 23 years of the Cape May Hawkwatch go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Sightings/cmhw25.html

Katy Duffy and her husband, Patrick Matheny, ran the CAPE MAY OWL BANDING PROJECT (October 25 - November 17, 2001) at the peak of the fall owl migration, and documented a fabulous migration by banding 277 owls (1 BARN OWL, a record 70 LONG-EARED OWLS, and 206 SAW-WHET OWLS).

CMBO's MONARCH MONITORING PROJECT (September 1 - October 31, 2001) tagged about 6,700 MONARCHS. This year's team: Chris Kisiel, our Monarch Migration Technician; Louise Zemaitis, Michael O'Brien, LuAnn Tracy, and Patsy Eickelberg. Four 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 in Chincoteague, Virginia; 1 on Assateague Island, Virginia; and 1 in Orlando, Florida. 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


For a copy of CMBO's WINTER PROGRAMS (January through March 2002) stop by either of our centers and pick up the Winter Kestrel Express, or call 609-861-0700 and ask us to mail it to you, or go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calspec.html

Saturday, December 15 (8:30 to 10:30 a.m.) join CMBO associate naturalists for a "Birding Cape May Point" walk, which meets at the Cape May Point State Park on the raised picnic platform.

A "Purple Martin Workshop" on January 19 (10 a.m.-Noon) at the CMBO Center for Research & Education in Goshen. Yes, it's time to begin thinking of preparations for your own backyard so that you're ready for the 2002 Purple Martin season & perhaps enjoy more success than you ever have in the past! Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register.

"ALL ABOUT OWLS: Workshop and Field Trip" offered from 1-5:30 p.m. on 3 different dates: Saturday, January 19; Wednesday, January 23;, and Friday, February 1. Pat Sutton, coauthor of "How to Spot an Owl," will teach these workshops. Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register


(1) "Delaware Bayshore Birding," every Monday, January 14 to April 1 (10 a.m. to Noon), meets at the CMBO Center for Research & Education in Goshen.

(2) "Birding Cape May Point," every Saturday, January 19 to March 30 (10 a.m. to Noon), meets at the Cape May Point State Park in the raised picnic pavilion.

(3) "Sunday Morning at Turkey Point," every Sunday, January 20 to March 31 (8 to 10 a.m.), meets at the wildlife viewing platform at the end of Turkey Point Road in Cumberland County (reached from Route 553 west or north of the town of Dividing Creek).

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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