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 15. New Jersey Audubon's
hotlines can be read in full on our website (http://www.njaudubon.org), by
on "Sightings" (top of any page).
Local Christmas Bird Counts begin this weekend. 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
(2) Belleplain CBC will be on Wednesday, December 28; contact Paul
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 permit shotgun
runs from December 14-16. Permit muzzle loader season runs from December
17-31 and January 2-6, 2006. In New Jersey there is no hunting on
Woodcock hunting at Higbee Beach runs from December 23-31.
CMBOs special winter preregistration programs include: 2-Day Bird
For Beginners with Pete Dunne on January 13-14 and a number of winter
workshops. To register or for more information call 609-861-0700,
details on the many CMBO programs go to:
CMBOs winter Gardens in Goshen today, December 15, were filled with
sparrows scratching through the fallen leaves and in under the still
standing perennial stalks. Perennials were left standing
now offer excellent cover (and food: seed heads) for hungry birds. 4 FOX
SPARROWS were busy scratching leaves under the stand of Birch trees
the pond. AMERICAN GOLDFINCH were feeding on seed heads of the wild BEE
BALM. If you think you know the general area where a Hummingbird
your yard this past summer, now is the time to scan the branches for
lump of gray dabbed with bits of lichen.
Its also time to stroll through your garden looking for SILKMOTH
and PREYING MANTIS EGG CASES. Birds are desperate for water during the
frozen winter. CMBO and other NJ Audubon Centers carry a host of
from heated bird baths to elements that can be placed in a pond or
to keep the water thawed. Help your birds survive the winter and get
fun looks at the same time.
The RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD in Gloucester County, reported on the NJ RBA, on
December 10 was coming not only to a feeder heated with a heat lamp, but
also to still blooming CORAL HONEYSUCKLE!
The Barnegat Light BLACK GUILLEMOT entertained CMBOs Hooked on
field trip on December 10, as well as dozens of other visiting
the road end just outside Barnegat Light State Park it floated by the
bulkhead CLOSE... several times. At other times it was also close
next to the bulkhead (further down / away from the State Park) by diving
underwater for a minute or so and then popping up. Wonder what they
did too. The wonderful Birds of North America shares that they feed on
benthic (bottom) and pelagic fish, as well as a wide variety of
species, including crustaceans and mollusks. Major fish prey include
blennies, sea scorpions, herring, cod, sandlances, rock gunnels,
pricklebacks, and sculpins. Amphipods and mysids are their most
invertebrate prey, but theyll also feed on sponges, jellyfish,
mollusks, decapods, barnacles, copepods, euphauslids, and cumaceans
its time to dust off your copy of Field Guide to the Atlantic
and see what some of these taste treats are). Guillemots are
feeders; obviously something has attracted this bird to the Barnegat
inlet. If you havent treated yourself to Barnegat Light yet, GO! CMBOs
December 10th field trip also savored in-your-face looks at 20-25
DUCKS along the jetty and along the beachfront in the rough waves to the
right of the jetty. 17 COMMON EIDERS, including 5 adult males in
plumage, floated at the end of the jetty and flew back and forth
inlet. 2 GREAT CORMORANTS perched on the navigational towers in the
1000+ scoters (mostly SURF, some BLACK, and a few WHITE-WINGED) drifted
around in the waters beyond the jetties. 50 LONG-TAILED DUCKS and a
of RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, COMMON LOONS, and RED-THROATED LOONS were
inlet. The beach held 7 HORNED LARKS and 40 SNOW BUNTINGS, while an
Ipswich SAVANNAH SPARROW hopped around the jetty.
An ICELAND GULL was in Cape May on December 10. Did you look for it
it? May have been because it was a darkish first winter bird and you
overlooked it. Now through January and early February is an excellent
of year to study gull ID. As part of CMBOs 2006 Cape May Birding
Michael OBrien will teach a 2-day Gull Workshop,
Saturday and Sunday, January 28-29, 2006. Some gulls take 3 years to
others 4 and 5 years. No wonder theyre so tough to master. To register,
call 609-861-0700, x-11. To learn more about the Gull Workshop or
other 2006 Cape May Birding Workshops (covering everything from
Techniques of Field Identification in February, to Birding By Ear in
May, Backyard Habitat in June, to Butterflies in August, to
Warblers, Spring Migrants, Terns, Shorebirds, Flycatchers, Fall
Falcons, Sparrows, and Waterfowl ) go to:
The Avalon Seawatch continues to rage and is on the brink of 900,000
On December 8, 17,000+ CANADA GEESE and 3,000 SNOW GEESE passed,
8 COMMON EIDER, 2 N. SHOVELER, 8 GREAT CORMORANT, 390 BLACK DUCK
the past peak season total), and 135 MALLARD (breaking that season
well). 8 species have surpassed former season totals (N. GANNET with
a/o Dec. 11, CANADA GOOSE with 22,046 a/o Dec. 11, WOOD DUCK with
Dec. 11, GADWALL with 93 a/o Dec. 11, MALLARD with 603 a/o Dec. 11,
SCAUP with 2170 a/o Dec. 11, LESSER SCAUP with 2,940 a/o Dec. 11,
RING-BILLED GULL with 32,533 a/o Dec. 11, and RAZORBILL ties former
with 13 a/o Dec. 11 ).
Thereve been 10 HARLEQUIN DUCKS (none since 12/3), 2 RAZORBILLS on Dec.
10, 1 BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE on Dec. 9, 97 COMMON EIDERS to date (5
8 on 12/8, 1 each on 12/9 & 12/10), and 8 GREAT CORMORANT on 12/6 and
on 12/8 (86 so far this season). Daily flights include 100s RED-THROATED
LOONS, dozen COMMON LOONS, 100s N. GANNET, dozens to hundreds of
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, 500-1000+ SCOTER, dozens LONG-TAILED DUCKS,
COMMON GOLDENEYE, dozen+ RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, 15-100 BONAPARTES
and an assortment of other birds.
The Avalon Seawatch continues (dawn to dusk every day) until December
Due to construction of a new seawall the Avalon Seawatch at the north
Avalon has been juggling between the road end at 7th Street (if
is quiet) to the jetty or beach at 8th Street (if construction at 7th
560 TUNDRA SWANS were flushed from the upper Wading River (perhaps by an
eagle) and flew over the Wading River Bridge on December 10.
The Great Egg Harbor River, from Somers Point north to Lake Lenape and
including Corbin City and Tuckahoe WMA, hosted 18 BALD EAGLES (9 adults,
2 subadults, and 7 immatures) on December 12, as well as an adult GOLDEN
EAGLE and a dark ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK. On December 10, 2 adult GOLDEN
were over the Mullica River while 6 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS were in the
at Motts Creek, 1 at Graveling Point, and 1 near the Garden State
The winds were right for a hawk flight on December 13th and indeed one
occurred, even this late in the season. Clay Sutton was in West Cape
an indoor meeting and distracted by a sky dotted with hawks. During
after the meeting, from 12:30 to 1 p.m. he counted 25 RED-TAILED
RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS, and 47 BLACK VULTURES.
RED-TAILED HAWKS are paired up and sitting side-by-side. Many NJ birds
remain in their territories year round. On December 13 Beaver Swamp
nesting BALD EAGLES were perched side-by-side near their nest,
the parking lot. A brazen 1st year BALD EAGLE was perched 500 feet
them. On December 10, an adult was seen carrying nesting material
Port Republic. Adult BALD EAGLES in NJ remain in and near their nesting
territory year round. Some are already working on their nests. If you
see an adult Bald Eagle carrying nesting material, large sticks, contact
Larissa Smith of the NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program
gtc3.com) with specifics (location, date, time, and your contact
just may find a new nest!
South Jerseys first SNOWY OWL usually shows up around Thanksgiving.
luck this year until December 8th when one was spotted on the beach
Street in Ocean City. Probably the same bird was found December 13th
flying by and sitting on a house. 2 SHORT-EARED OWLS were hunting the
at Jakes Landing on December 10 at dusk (5 p.m.). They were very vocal
barking their dog-like yipping.
As part of CMBOs 2006 Cape May Birding Workshops Pat & Clay Sutton
Dasey will teach a 3-day Owls & Eagles Workshop, Saturday through
January 21 - 23, 2006. To register, call 609-861-0700, x-11. To learn
Other excellent opportunities to enjoy winter raptors (diurnal and
nocturnal) include CMBOs Sunday walks beginning January 22: (1) Every
Sunday Sunday Morning at Turkey Point from 8 - 10 a.m., (2) Every
Sunday Nightfall at Jakes Landing ... Jan. 22 at 4 p.m., Feb.
5 and Feb 19 at 4:30 p.m., and March 5 and March 19 at 5 p.m., and
Other Sunday Nightfall at Corbin City Impoundments ... Jan. 29 at
Feb. 12 at 4:30 p.m., Feb. 26, March 12, and March 26 at 5 p.m.
Surprisingly, flocks of AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS winter here. On
a flock of 54 at the Longport Sodbanks were accompanied by a MARBLED
FOX SPARROWS have arrived in force! 25-30 were at Higbee Beach on
11, and 15 were along the State Park trails on December 10.
Many local backyard bird feeders continue to host a few PURPLE FINCH.
AMERICAN WOODCOCK have arrived. At dusk keen observers are seeing them
coming out of wet woods to fields and edges to feed.
AMERICAN HOLLY trees are full of red berries because we were spared a
freeze last spring when they were in flower! AMERICAN ROBINS winter
huge numbers if the holly berry crop is good. 300+ AMERICAN ROBINS
CEDAR WAXWINGS were in the Cape May Point State Park on December 11.
WINTERBERRY HOLLY is still stunning and will remain so until the
it of its bright red berries.
CMBOs bookstore hours follow: (1) Northwood Center in Cape May Point
be open every day through December 24 (except December 18), from
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
Years (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
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
This Cape May Natural History and Events Hotline is a service of the
May Bird Observatory, which is a research, conservation, and
of the New Jersey Audubon Society. Our aim is to preserve and
ornithological and natural history significance of Cape May. Your
supports these goals and this hotline. We detail sightings from Cape
Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties.
Updates are typically made on Thursdays. Please report your natural
sightings to CMBO's Center in Goshen at 609-861-0700. Thanks for
ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!