Cape May Natural History Hotline - 12/23/2004

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 23. 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).

CMBOs two centers will be closed December 24 through January 1. Wishing you all Happy Holidays and a Bird & Butterfly-filled New Year!

The end of this Hotline shares ANNOUNCEMENTS regarding the terrible oil spill in the Delaware River

The Cape May CBC on Sunday, December 19, was extremely foggy through much of the morning. Many, many incredible birds were found (detailed on the Cape May Birding Hotline) and the preliminary total is 158 species (with 7 additional count week species). Temperatures plummeted and windy, bitter conditions followed on Monday, the 20th, and many of the lingering and out-of-range songbirds have not been seen since.

Three unusual mammals were seen on December 19 (2 by Cape May CBC participants): a HARBOR PORPOISE in the waters off Stone Harbor, a RICE RAT (dead on a farm road, probably dropped by a spooked raptor) in Goshen, and a MINK at the end of Jakes Landing Road.

The Avalon Seawatch ended December 22 with an exceptional N. GANNET flight, 5 COMMON EIDER (including 4 resting in the waters in front of the Seawatch for much of the day), and a 1st winter GLAUCOUS GULL. Final totals will be shared when available. The site of the Avalon Seawatch (7th Street and the beach at the north end of Avalon) continues to be a terrific spot to study (up close and personal) feeding LONG-TAILED DUCKS, COMMON EIDER, SCOTERS, and BONAPARTES GULLS in the waters and PURPLE SANDPIPERS on the jetty. RAZORBILLS have been regular at the seawatch since November 23; 19 were seen December 17, including a flock of 8 that sat in the water part of the day with feeding Bonapartes Gulls. Their migration should continue through January. This years flood of Razorbills is probably due to the population crash of Sand Lance (commonly called Sand Eels), an elongate, burrowing fish.

The Barnegat Lighthouse jetty is a winter MUST, and this winter is no different. 30 HARLEQUIN DUCKS (and PURPLE SANDPIPERS) are regulars there. Treat yourself on a sunny, windless day.

Three SNOWY OWLS continued (Dec. 18 & 19) at the southernmost end of Long Beach Island in the Holgate Unit of Forsythe NWR (@ a 2 mile walk each way). These birds are likely to winter here if not disturbed. Please keep a respectful distance and do not intrude on their space; observe from a safe distance with a scope. SHORT-EARED OWLS are here in good numbers this winter: 10 at Corbin City WMA, 15 at Motts Creek Road just north of Leeds Point (Dec. 18), 5 at Cedar Run Dock Road (Dec. 18), 1 at Jakes Landing (Dec. 18). No doubt others will be found during upcoming Christmas Bird Counts. The best time to search for Short-eared Owls is at dusk, anytime from 3:00 p.m. on until full dark (@ 5 p.m.), though they could be flying by 1:00 p.m. on overcast days or if preceding days were nasty and birds did not have a chance to feed. A BARRED OWL continues to explore Cape May Point and was seen December 16 on the trails at the State Park. GREAT HORNED OWLS are calling at dusk and dawn (6:30 a.m.) and are calling from the woods where theyll 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! CMBOs 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 Muzzle loading Season is still in (December 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: 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. ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS have finally arrived and settled into their favorite haunts along the Delaware Bayshore and in marshes along the Atlantic Coast. 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.

Sizable flocks of EASTERN BLUEBIRDS are moving around and visiting meadow habitats. One flock can be found off and on at CMBOs Center in Goshen, perched on the back railing, in trees, and on our various bird houses.

Enjoy winter birds by attending some of the upcoming CMBO programs:

Weekly walks (no advanced registration, $6 members, $10 for others): 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

Special programs and field trips in addition to those already mentioned follow (prices vary: call 609-861-0700 for info and to register): 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 Field Trip 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 Field Trip 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.) CMBOs 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.)

Many other programs are scheduled for early 2005; contact either CMBO Center for a copy of the Kestrel Express, which features the schedule, or go to NJ Audubons website: http://www.njaudubon.org

South Jerseys remaining 2 Christmas Bird Counts are coming up, both on Sundays. Dates and contacts follow. When leaving a phone message with count organizers be sure to also leave your e-mail address. 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

The current Art Exhibit at the CMBO Center in Goshen (Closed until January 2; then 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, there are many opportunities both in NJ and other affected states; for a start, see http://www.delawareriverkeeper.org/action http://www.tristatebird.org

For more information about the spill: http://www.courierpostonline.com/specialreports/spill1104

New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory Northwood Center in Cape May Point and Rancocas Nature Center in Mount Holly 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: newspapers, flat bed sheets, bath towels, and "soft sided" (not wooden slatted) playpens. Currently, they have an ample supply of paper towels, Ensure and Pedialyte. Donated items can be dropped off at the Cape May Bird Observatory Northwood Center in Cape May Point or at Rancocas Nature Center in Mount Holly during regular hours. Please note that the Cape May Bird Observatory's Northwood Center will be closed for the holidays on December 24 through January 1. The Center will reopen on Sunday, January 2. Donations will be accepted until further notice. 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). Tri State Bird Rescue has a new temporary facility in West Deptford, NJ. Call Tri State Bird Rescue to see about dropping off donated items there.

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 either CMBO 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 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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