Cape May Natural History Hotline - 12/16/2004

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 16. For bird news call the Cape May Birding Hotline at (609) 898-2473. NJ Audubon's three hotline can be read in full on our website (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on "Sightings" (at the top of any page).

Because of its importance we have placed this announcement at the beginning of the hotline. Tri-State Bird Rescue will offer "OILED WILDLIFE TRAINING SEMINARS" for volunteers that want to assist in the care of the oiled animals at Tri-State's new Thorofare, NJ, facility. The training will be held Monday (20 December) or Tuesday (21 December) in West Deptford, NJ, from 7 - 9 PM each night. This is a 2-hour classroom session (no oil, no birds, no mess!) at the Best Western Hotel at Exit 20 on I-295. For directions, see the map at http://www.westdeptfordinn.com

Volunteers need to be at least 18 years of age, in good health, with a current tetanus inoculation and have the ability to donate several shifts over the next month. Volunteers must attend a 2-hour classroom session and then a 2-hour hands-on session in the facility to meet the approved safety training requirements. The new cleaning facility in Thorofare opened December 16 and is accepting 10-20 birds per day. Volunteer shifts are typically 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., and 6 p.m. - close (although if you can only work for part of a shift, you won't be turned away). Besides cleaning birds, there are volunteer opportunities in areas such as office help, answering phones, moving equipment, etc.

There is a limit of 50 volunteers for each session and pre-registration is required. If you meet these requirements and can attend a training session, please register by calling: Phil Broder, Director of Education, The Wetlands Institute at: 609-368-1211, extension 19, during business hours. (9:30 - 4:30)

Go to the end of this Hotline for additional ANNOUNCEMENTS regarding the terrible oil spill in the Delaware River

The Avalon Seawatch will continue until December 22 with Bob Fogg, our primary counter, and Cameron Cox (on Bob's days off). They have recorded over 571,000 seabirds since September 22. RAZORBILLS have been stealing the show at the Seawatch since the first one was seen November 23, and have been almost daily since December 3. As of December 13, 51 have been recorded. This season's high count to date is 13 Razorbills (December 12), which ties the all-time season total high in 1993. 8 were seen on December 13 and 7 on December 11. The best time of day to see the Razorbills has been the first few hours after sunrise. Numbers of RED-THROATED LOONS, N. GANNET, LONG-TAILED DUCKS, all 3 SCOTERS, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, and BONAPARTE'S GULL are being enjoyed each day along with a wonderful assortment of other seabirds. 44 COMMON EIDER so far, including 2 (Dec. 9), 2 (Dec. 6), 3 (Dec. 4). HARLEQUIN DUCKS this week: 2 (Dec. 9), 1 (Dec. 4). Late PARASITIC JAEGERS this week: 1 on both Dec. 13 & 10. BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE: 3 on December 6. 20 PURPLE SANDPIPERS frequent the jetty in front of the Avalon Seawatch and a nice sized flock of LONG-TAILED DUCKS are regular entertainers in the waters right in front of the Seawatch. Visit the Avalon Seawatch any day from sunrise to sunset - the location is along the seawall at the junction of First Avenue and Seventh Street in Avalon. Take exit 13 east from the Garden State Parkway and, upon entering Avalon, make the third left onto First Avenue. Drive to the end.

HARLEQUIN DUCKS (and PURPLE SANDPIPERS) are regulars through the winter at the Barnegat Light Jetty. They have been back at this favorite wintering spot of theirs for some time. Treat yourself on a sunny and windless day. On December 13, 1,000 N. GANNETS were plunge diving just off the beachfront at this site.

The backbay waters behind Stone Harbor and Avalon are packed with BRANT, this being their major wintering ground. On a still day listen for their beautiful call.

A SNOWY OWL continues to be seen at either the north end of Brigantine Island or the southern most end of Long Beach Island at Holgate in the dunes. Most recent reports have come from Holgate. This bird is likely to winter here if not disturbed. Please do not disturb the bird by getting too close; observe from a safe distance with a scope. It is looking like a very good winter for SHORT-EARED OWLS. Numbers have been enjoyed at Corbin City WMA (as many as 10) and at Motts Creek (just north of Leeds Point). They are also being seen along the Delaware Bayshore at places like East Point (including one up briefly during the day on December 14) in Cumberland County and Jakes Landing in Cape May County. The best time to search for Short-eared Owls is at dusk, anytime from 3:30 p.m. on until full dark (@ 5 p.m). GREAT HORNED OWLS are calling at dusk and dawn (6:30 a.m.) and are calling from the woods where they'll be laying eggs in a nest at the end of January. Learn how to spot owls and learn all about them by joining Pat Sutton during one of the upcoming "All About Owls Workshop & Field Trips" offered January 19 (1-5:30 p.m.) and January 27 (1-5:30 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register! CMBO's "4-day Owls & Eagles Workshop" (January 21-24, 2005) still has room. To learn more about this Cape May Birding Workshops and be drawn to Cape May again and again by the great selection of other 2005 workshops go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks05.html

It is easy to spot large stick nests in the winter woods now. These nests, built by Red-tailed Hawks last spring, are likely sites for nesting Great Horned Owls in late January. Put off any woodland explorations on foot in the coming weeks due to Deer Season (except on Sundays, when there is no hunting). In Cape May County and parts of Cumberland County Shotgun Season runs from December 15-17 and Muzzle loading Season (December 13, 14, 18-24, 27-31, and January 1-7, 2005).

Those of you keen on owls might want to make this the winter you travel to witness an amazing incursion of northern owls. Many 100s of GREAT GRAY OWLS and N. HAWK OWLS are being seen in the Duluth, MN, area and reported on the Duluth Rare Bird Alerts.

Many, many BALD EAGLES winter in southern New Jersey. Numbers are already being seen. On December 10, 9 immatures were roosting in Bear Swamp in Cumberland County, while 8 were enjoyed hunting the marshes at nearby Turkey Point (including 4 adults and 4 immatures). An immature BALD EAGLE flew over the CMBO Center in Goshen on December 11. 7 BALD EAGLES (4 adults) were tallied along the Great Egg Harbor River on December 13. 2 GOLDEN EAGLES were seen December 13, an adult at Corbin City WMA and an immature at English Creek Landing. 2 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS (one dark and one light morph) were seen December 13 at Corbin City WMA. A ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK (light morph) was at Moore's Beach on December 14. Join Pat Sutton and other enthusiastic CMBO naturalists for the popular "Winter Raptors of the Delaware Bayshore" on Saturday, January 29, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. To register, call 609-861-0700, x-11.

1,000s of AMERICAN ROBINS are here this winter. Female American Holly trees are full of beautiful fruits, a favorite food of wintering robins. Marauding flocks of STARLINGS are descending on Red Cedar trees and stripping them of their fruits.

CMBO's "Cape May Autumn Hawkwatch" 2004 FINAL TOTALS and the peak flight (total and date) for each species can be viewed on NJ Audubon's web site: http://www.njaudubon.org/Centers/CMBO/HWdailytotals.html

Backyard feeding stations are enjoying AMERICAN GOLDFINCH. PINE SISKINS, PURPLE FINCH, and FOX SPARROWS. No Butterfly or dragonfly reports came in this week, but the upcoming Christmas Bird Counts may change all that as hundreds of observers are in the field.

CMBO's 2004 Autumn Monarch Monitoring Project ended with the lowest numbers in the history of this full-time project. We can all help the Monarch population by planting more Milkweed in our gardens. CMBO has Tropical Milkweed seed packets for sale at our Center in Goshen (OPEN DAILY: 1-4:30 PM). Plant them next spring and enjoy this annual milkweed with its constant blooms all summer, right up until frost. The tender leaves of this milkweed are especially attractive to egg-laying Monarchs. Stop by while they last! Great gifts for anyone with a garden.

Enjoy winter birds by joining a CMBO weekly walk with local experts : (1) Fridays, December 17, "Late Fall Birding at Cape May" with Mark Garland, meets at 8:00 a.m. at the hawkwatch platform in Cape May Point State Park and (2) Wednesdays (through December 29), "Birding Cape May Point" meets at 7:30 a.m. in the "South Shelter" raised pavilion at the Cape May Point State Park. A host of new walks begin January 8 and are posted on New Jersey Audubon's web site at http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

South Jersey's 3 Christmas Bird Counts are coming up: all on Sundays. Dates and contacts follow. When leaving a phone message with count organizers be sure to also leave your e-mail address. Cape May CBC, Sunday, December 19; contact Louise Zemaitis at 609-898-9578 or . Belleplain CBC, Sunday, December 26; contact Paul Kosten at 609-861-5827 or . Cumberland County CBC, Sunday, January 2; contact Clay & Pat Sutton at 609-465-3397 or

CMBO offers a number of very special programs and field trips, with limited attendance that require preregistration (609-861-0700, x-11). In addition to those already mentioned, others include: Waterfowl Art Exhibit Opening Reception at CMBO Center in Goshen - Sun., Jan. 30 (2-4 p.m.) "Longtails in Love" with Pat Sutton - Saturday, February 12 (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) "Tuckahoe & Corbin City WMA" with Pat Sutton & Karen Johnson - Sat., February 19 (2-6 p.m.) "Birding From the Ferry" with Mark Garland - Sunday, February 20 (7-11 a.m.) "Optics Workshop" at CMBO Northwood Center - Sunday, February 20 (1-3 p.m.) "Winter at Two Mile Beach" with Mark Garland - Sunday, February 27 (1-4:30 p.m.) "Cape May NWR" with Pat Sutton - Saturday, March 5 (1-4 p.m.) "Woodcock Dance" with Pat Sutton - Saturday, March 5 (5-7 p.m.) "Birding Cumberland" with Pat & Clay Sutton - Saturday, March 12 (9 a.m.-4 p.m.) "Birding From the Ferry" with Mark Garland - Saturday, March 26 (7-11 a.m.) CMBO's "10th Annual Optics Sale" for CMBO or NJ Audubon members ONLY (become a member today to take advantage of the great deals!) - Saturday & Sunday, March 19-20 (9-4:30 p.m.)

The current Art Exhibit at the CMBO Center in Goshen (open DAILY 9-4:30) features local wildlife artists and should not be missed - great gift ideas. It flows through the classroom, continues up the stairs and into the loft. This center will be closed December 24 through January 1.

ANNOUNCEMENT -- Regarding the terrible oil spill in the Delaware River -- if you want to help out, there are many opportunities both in NJ and other affected states; for a start, see http://www.delawareriverkeeper.org http://www.tristatebird.org

New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory and Rancocas Nature Center are accepting donations for Tri State Bird Rescue to help their rehabilitation efforts of oiled birds in response to the worst oil spill to hit the Delaware River since 1995. Species affected include waterfowl, herons, and gulls. Many more birds in need of rehabilitation are anticipated in the days and weeks ahead. You can help in the care of these birds by donating the following items: paper towels, cotton swabs (Q-tips), flat bed sheets, bath towels, Ensure (plain vanilla only) and Pedialyte (plain only). Donated items can be dropped off at either center during regular hours. See our website for more details: http://www.njaudubon.org Or you can make a donation of money or items directly to Tri State Bird Rescue, 110 Possum Hollow Road, Newark DE 19711 (302-737-9543).

If you see any oiled Bald Eagles in NJ, please let Larissa Smith (NJ Endangered & Nongame Species Program) know at 609-628-2103. If you see any badly oiled birds you can report them to the USFWS hotline 215-365-2689.

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. To receive a copy of our Winter (December 2004 - February 2005) Program Schedule (the Kestrel Express), stop at one of our centers, call the office during business hours at 609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's web site 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. 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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