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 Friday, December 20. For bird news call the Cape May
Birding Hotline at 609-898-2473. NJ Audubon's three hotlines can be
read in full on our web site (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on
Dates and contacts for the 2 remaining South Jersey Christmas Bird
Counts follow: Sunday, December 22 = Belleplain (Paul Kosten:
firstname.lastname@example.org 609-861-5827); Sunday, December 29 = Cumberland
(Clay & Pat Sutton: email@example.com 609-465-3397).
NEWS FLASH: If you should visit the Rea Farm, wear something blaze
orange and expect to find hunters active there. CMBO purchased the
"birding rights," but these rights are not exclusive.
A WESTERN TANAGER was discovered during the Cape May Christmas Bird
Count (December 15) in Erma (just south of Rio Grande). Of significance
is that the yard that has attracted and held this very rare visitor from
the west is a successful wildlife habitat as result of the property
owner attending Cape May Bird Observatory "Backyard Habitat Workshops."
Pretty cool, huh! Directions to the site are shared on the Cape May
It's shaping up to be an owly winter. The Cape May Christmas Bird Count
on December 15 tallied all the owls, but Snowy and Short-eared Owl (even
though Short-ears are around!). 6 LONG-EARED OWLS and 4 BARN OWLS were
found at daytime roosts on private property along the Delaware Bayshore
upland edge of Cape May County. A SAW-WHET OWL responded to tooting
that evening when the wind finally dropped, plus a number of their
pellets were found during the day at daytime roost sites, so there might
be a fair number around. Two other upcoming Christmas Bird Counts will
shed more light on this. New Jersey's first Snowy Owls of the winter
were discovered a bit later than usual (normally we see the first ones
near Thanksgiving). On December 14 one was enjoyed at Sandy Hook during
that area's CBC and another was found December 17 at Riverdale, NJ.
Jakes Landing is still a hotspot for SHORT-EARED OWLS; 7 were enjoyed
there December 15 at dusk. Another good spot this winter to scan for
Short-ears on overcast days and at dusk is the Corbin City portion of
the McNamara WMA (accessed from Griscom Mill Road off Route 50, north
of the Tuckahoe River).
You can set your clock right now by GREAT HORNED OWLS. They are tuning
up as their nesting season draws near. They are our earliest nesting
bird and will be on eggs by late January. Right now they are calling to
one another at dusk as they sit near the stick nest that they have
chosen and will use next month to lay their eggs in, a nest that they
did not build but probably was built by a pair of Red-tailed Hawks last
spring. They begin calling about 4:30 p.m. and by 5:00 p.m., just when
it gets almost too dark to see, they fly out from the deep woods to a
snag on an edge overlooking the saltmarsh or a farm field. Hundreds of
Great Horned Owls live along New Jersey's upland edge of the Delaware
Bayshore and one or several might be seen at any number of sites:
Woodcock Lane, Goshen Landing, Jakes Landing, Hansey Creek, Turkey
Upcoming Christmas Bird Counts will enlighten us further on this
winter's owls as dozens of birders prowl South Jersey. CMBO's very
popular 4-Day Classic Workshop focused on Owls, Hawks, & Waterfowl (Jan.
24-27) with Pat & Clay Sutton and Ward Dasey has 7 openings. Call
609-861-0700, x-11, and leave your name, full address, & phone number to
register or to get the workshop brochure!
Searching for owls in the woods gets risky with the various deer hunting
seasons. Locally, permit Muzzleload season is December 21, 23-24,
26-28, 30-Jan. 4, Jan. 6-10. Sundays are still safe since no hunting is
permitted on Sundays. New Jersey is broken up into 60 or so deer
management zones. To learn when hunting for deer is permitted in your
area get the 2002 Hunting Issue of "New Jersey fish & Wildlife Digest"
or visit their web site:
Some IDEAS FOR fun WINTER WALKS THIS WEEK this week include Reeds Beach
and Stone Harbor Point, both are sites that should put you out of harms
way with deer hunters. At Reeds Beach park midway down the road. Take
your scope. Walk the road. Scan the pond on your right for
Green-winged Teal and night herons. Scan the marsh and salt ponds along
the road, both to the north and to the south. A Rough-legged Hawk seems
to be wintering in these marshes to the north. Clouds of Snow Geese can
be heard and seen to the north. Red-tailed Hawks and sometimes Bald
Eagles perch on the tree islands in the marsh. At the creek before the
"T," if it is low tide, linger and watch for Clapper Rails. Turn right
and continue to walk out the road towards the jetty. Where breaks in
the houses permit, scan the Delaware Bay waters for waterfowl.
Canvasbacks (3), Greater Scaup (300), Lesser Scaup (2), Surf,
White-winged, & Black Scoters (60), Bufflehead (30), and Ruddy Ducks
(220) were all enjoyed here on December 15. At the road end scan the
pilings and the jetty for the Great Cormorant, often perched here.
Stone Harbor Point is always a wonderful place for a winter stroll.
Again take your telescope. Thousands of shorebirds have been
frequenting the area, mostly Dunlin and Western Sandpipers. Also look
for Snow Buntings. In early December (the 8th) a Goshawk entertained as
it hunted the Waxmyrtle thickets. Maybe it's still around. Thousands
of Brant have filled the back bay waters and will winter here. Their
soft gargling "rrot" calls are music to the ears.
A group of 10-20 LONG-TAILED DUCKS are regulars at the Avalon Seawatch
now and busy courting and calling their distinctive, "South Southerly,
south southerly." Often you'll find 10 or more males around a single
female. The males' heads are held high, their tails stiff, and they
chase each other about. It's all very entertaining. Check it out.
CMBO's AVALON SEAWATCH will continue till December 22. As of December
17th 708,631 seabirds have been tallied so far. Some highlights this
week include: 100s Red-throated Loons (daily), 1 RED-NECKED GREBE (Dec.
11), 10-50 N. Gannets (daily), a few Great Cormorant (each week), 400
Greater Scaup (Dec. 15), COMMON EIDER (4 on 11th, 4 on 12th, 3 on 13th),
1000s scoter (daily), Long-tailed Ducks (30-50 migrants daily),
Red-breasted Merganser (15-30 daily), Bonaparte's Gull (16 on Dec. 12),
1 ICELAND GULL (Dec. 16), and 2 ALCIDS (Dec. 16)!
On December 15, flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds settled into Sweet Gum
trees and dangled from the seed balls, feasting on the seeds they
extracted. White-throated Sparrows gulped down American Holly berries.
Many of our native trees, shrubs, and vines are essential survival food
for our wintering birds and other creatures. Despite nights of freezing
temperatures, 2 ORANGE SULPHURS were seen December 15. Otherwise
butterfly and dragonfly news has been nil. COYOTES are tuning up; two
were heard near the Rea Farm the night of December 17.
The Cape May Bird Observatory's two centers will be closed December 24
through January 1. A number of weekly winter bird walks begin
mid-January. January 18 (every Saturday) "Birding Cape May Point," from
8:00-10:00 a.m., meets in the raised picnic pavilion of the Cape May
Point State Park. January 19 (every Sunday) "Sunday Morning at Turkey
Point," from 8:00-10:00 a.m., meets at the end of Turkey Point Road in
Cumberland County. January 24 (every Friday) "Nightfall at Jakes
Landing," from 4:30 p.m. to dusk, meets at the end of Jakes Landing
Road. January 27 (alternate Mondays: 1/27, 2/10, 2/24, 3/10, 3/24)
"Stone Harbor Point Bird Walk," from 8:00-10:00 a.m., meets in the
parking lot at the south end of 2nd Avenue in Stone Harbor. February 3
(alternate Mondays: 2/3, 2/17, 3/3, 3/17, 3/31) "Two Mile Beach Bird
Walk," from 8:00-10:00 a.m., meets in the last (left) parking area in
the Two Mile Beach Unit of the Cape May NWR.
Wishing you a lovely holiday & GOOD BIRDING!
CMBO's Winter 2003 (January - March) Kestrel Express program schedule is
on its way to CMBO members now. If you are not a member and would like
to receive a copy with full details about our programs, stop by either
CMBO Center (remember: we're closed December 24-January 1), or call
609-861-0700, or visit New Jersey Audubon's web site at
http://www.njaudubon.org (click on "Calendar," then on "Cape May Bird
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 Cape May Natural History &
Events Hotline (updated Thursday evening).
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. Both are open DAILY, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (except
between Christmas and New Years). For more information call
609-861-0700. Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!
Patricia Sutton, Program Director
New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory
Center for Research & Education
600 Route 47 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
609-861-0700, x-16 (phone) / 609-861-1651 (fax)