Cape May Natural History Hotline - 12/8/2005

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 8. New Jersey Audubon's three hotlines can be read in full on our website (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on "Sightings" (top of any page).

Christmas Bird Counts are coming up. 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 comcast.net. (2) Belleplain CBC will be on Wednesday, December 28; contact Paul Kosten to 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 the six-day firearm season is underway NOW, December 5-10. Permit shotgun season runs from December 14-16. Permit muzzle loader season runs from Dec. 12, 13, 17-31, and January 2-6, 2006. In New Jersey there is no hunting on Sundays. Hunting is closed at Higbee Beach from September 1 through December 12, but open to Woodcock hunting there between December 23-31.

This Sunday, December 11, Photographer Michael Hogan will be at the CMBO Center in Goshen from 1 to 4 p.m. His latest book, Natural Wonders of the Jersey Pines and Shore, will be available for sale and personalized signing. For more details call 609-861-0700.

CMBOs winter programs that require no preregistration in December follow: Saturday, December 10 (7:30-9:30 a.m.) Fall Migrants at the Rea Farm and Wednesday, December 14 (7:30-9:30 a.m.) Birding Cape May Point. Weekly walks begin again January 7: Every Saturday (Jan.- March) Birding Cape May Point from 8 - 10 a.m.

CMBOs special winter preregistration programs include: 2-Day Bird Watching 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, x-11. For details on the many CMBO programs go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

The Avalon Seawatch continues to rage. As of December 4, 829,684 seabirds have been tallied. Thousands of birds are going by daily: 23,200 on 12/1, 2,158 on 12/2, 5844 on 12/3, and 5,143 on 12/4. Highlights this week include: 3 GREAT CORMORANT (12/1, and 1 on 12/3), 4 COMMON EIDER (12/1), LONG-TAILED DUCKS (580 on 12/3, 316 on 12/4), PARASITIC JAEGER (1 each on 12/1 & 12/3), BONAPARTES GULLS (249 on 12/3, 214 on 12/4), BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE on 12/3, RAZORBILLS (1 each on 12/1, 12/2, and 3 on 12/4), 22 REDHEAD on 12/4, HARLEQUIN DUCKS (1 each on 12/2 & 12/3), and 7 CANVASBACKS on 12/4. To give you a feel for what is passing now, the big flight on December 2 was made up of: 12,700 BLACK SCOTER, 5,000 SURF SCOTER, 26 WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, 1,600 RED-THROATED LOONS, 234 N. GANNETS, 222 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, 370 BRANT, 167 GREATER SCAUP, 79 LESSER SCAUP, 17 LAUGHING GULLS, 15 BONAPARTES GULLS, 480 RING-BILLED GULLS, 500 HERRING GULLS, 20 GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS, plus an assortment of other birds. The Avalon Seawatch continues (dawn to dusk every day) until December 22. Due to construction of a new seawall the Avalon Seawatch at the north end of Avalon has been juggling between the road end at 7th Street (if construction is quiet) to the jetty or beach at 8th Street (if construction at 7th Street is disruptive).

Now through January and early February is an excellent time of year to study gull ID. As part of CMBOs 2006 Cape May Birding Workshops Michael OBrien will teach a 2-day Gull Workshop, Saturday and Sunday, January 28-29, 2006. Some gulls take 3 years to mature, 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 the 16 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 workshops on Warblers, Spring Migrants, Terns, Shorebirds, Flycatchers, Fall Migrants, Falcons, Sparrows, and Waterfowl ) go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks06.html

COMMON LOONS were successfully feeding on crabs in the Great Egg Harbor on December 1. Its THE time of year to see PURPLE SANDPIPERS. More winter here on the Jersey Shore than along the rocky coastlines to the north where Purple Sandpipers once wintered. They are attracted to the man-made rockpiles or jetties and 6 were seen on the jetty at Higbee Beach on December 4.

Waterfowl numbers have been way down, plus Duck Hunting Season is IN, so those that are here are being moved around a lot. Big numbers of SNOW GEESE were finally seen this week along the Delaware Bayshore: 1,000s flying over Dix WMA on December 5, and 1,000s flying south over the Maurice River along with 100s of CANADA GEESE on December 7. On December 7, Bivalve held 600 PINTAIL and Heislerville held 300 BUFFLEHEAD. Over 50 HOODED MERGANSERS were in Cape May Court House in the pond behind Kindle Ford on Golf Club Road (off of Stone Harbor Boulevard) on December 4. Over 80 HOODED MERGANSERS were in the impoundments at Tuckahoe WMA and the Corbin City Impoundments on December 1.

The Cape May Hawkwatch ended November 30th a total of 41,283 raptors tallied this fall. But some late raptors will respond to good migration conditions through mid December. On December 2, an immature N. GOSHAWK was seen at 8 a.m. from the Cape May Hawkwatch Platform. Late OSPREY were seen at Tuckahoe WMA on December 1 and another over the Garden State Parkway at mile marker 1. GOLDEN EAGLES have been seen this week at Brigantine NWR (December 3) and at Dividing Creek in Cumberland County (December 2). RED-TAILED HAWKS are paired up and defending their territories. One adult was doing its courtship flight on December 7 over the Maurice River. BALD EAGLES are working on their nests around the state. Adult BALD EAGLES in NJ remain in and near their nesting territory year round. A ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was at Jakes Landing on December 5, while 5 were at Tuckahoe WMA and Corbin City Impoundments on December 1. A SHORT-EARED OWL was hunting the Tuckahoe WMA at 1:30 p.m. on an overcast afternoon on December 1.

As part of CMBOs 2006 Cape May Birding Workshops Pat & Clay Sutton and Ward Dasey will teach a 3-day Owls & Eagles Workshop, Saturday through Monday, January 21 - 23, 2006. To register, call 609-861-0700, x-11. To learn more go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks06.html

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 Other 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 (3) Every Other Sunday Nightfall at Corbin City Impoundments ... Jan. 29 at 4 p.m., Feb. 12 at 4:30 p.m., Feb. 26, March 12, and March 26 at 5 p.m.

Many local backyard bird feeders are hosting a few PURPLE FINCH and a few PINE SISKINS. E. BLUEBIRDS are being seen at the Rea Farm parking lot. WINTERBERRY HOLLY is gorgeous right now; its lost its leaves and twigs full of red berries catch the eye! AMERICAN HOLLY trees are full of fruit this December and attracting 100s of AMERICAN ROBINS. American Robins winter in South Jersey if the Holly berry crop is good! The WESTERN TANAGER, seen December 4 at next to the Brigantine NWR visitor center was in American Holly trees with Robins.

CMBOs winter gardens are covered in snow from the December 5 snowfall. Perennials were left standing intentionally and now offer excellent cover (and food: seed heads) for hungry birds. In the frozen landscape heated bird baths are drawing in birds. CMBO carries an assortment of heaters and heated birdbaths. Stop by. CMBOs bookstore hours follow: (1) Northwood Center in Cape May Point will be open Thursday through Monday, 9-4:30 (CLOSED: Tuesday and Wednesday). (2) 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 and New 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 detailed in 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 site: 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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