CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY & EVENTS HOTLINE, December 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
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
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:
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:
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
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:
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:
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!