Cape May Natural History Hotline - 12/9/2004

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 9. 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).

Go to the end of this Hotline for an ANNOUNCEMENT Regarding the terrible oil spill in the Delaware River

The Avalon Seawatch will continue until December 22. Over 525,000 seabirds have been recorded since September 22. The N. GANNET show has been spectacular. Highlights this week include a 1st year LITTLE GULL on December 1, CAVE SWALLOW on December 1 & 3, BROWN PELICAN on December 3, 2 RAZORBILLS on December 4 and 2 more on December 5, and a flyby PACIFIC LOON on December 6. 20 PURPLE SANDPIPERS frequent the jetty in front of the Avalon Seawatch and 4 or more 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.

NJ's first SNOWY OWL, discovered November 30 at the north end of Brigantine, was seen as recently as December 5 and might still be there. SHORT-EARED OWLS were thick at Corbin City WMA on December 4, when 10 were seen at dusk. 1-2 continue to be seen at Jakes Landing, along with dozens of N. HARRIER (including a beautiful adult male), and 3 BALD EAGLES. 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.

Several hundred AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER and 3 MARBLED GODWIT were in the marshes behind Stone Harbor (best viewed from the end of 99th Street) on December 3. An adult female PEREGRINE is a regular on Osprey platforms in this area.

Waterfowl has arrived in big numbers on the Maurice River. On December 8, 1,000 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 670 MALLARDS, 800 N. PINTAIL, 100 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 100 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 100 BUFFLEHEAD, 102 RUDDY DUCKS, and 3 CANVASBACKS were found, along with 10 BALD EAGLES (including 4 adults and 6 immatures).

The December 8 coldfront triggered a major movement of AMERICAN ROBINS at both East Point in Cumberland County and at Cape May Point. At the Point the flight also included numbers of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, AMERICAN GOLDFINCH, and blackbirds.

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

Trees have been stripped of their leaves, making it easier to look through the woods for large stick nests, built by Red-tailed Hawks last spring and coveted now by Great Horned Owls looking for suitable nest sites to use in January. GREAT HORNED OWLS have been vocal at dawn and dusk near potential nest sites. Put off any woodland explorations on foot in the coming weeks due to Deer Season. In Cape May County and parts of Cumberland County Firearm Season runs from December 6-11, followed by Shotgun Season from December 15-17 and Muzzle loading Season (December 13, 14, 18-24, 27-31, and January 1-7, 2005). SUNDAYS are SAFE all over New Jersey; there is NO HUNTING on SUNDAYS.

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

Backyard feeding stations are enjoying AMERICAN GOLDFINCH. PINE SISKINS, PURPLE FINCH, and FOX SPARROWS.

Butterflies and dragonflies continue to surprise observers on warm days, despite some freezing temperatures. COMMON BUCKEYE, ORANGE SULPHUR, and COMMON GREEN DARNER were all seen this week. And SPRING PEEPERS were calling!

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 early winter bird and late migrants by joining a CMBO weekly walk with local experts : (1) Fridays (through 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, (2) Saturdays (through December 11), "Fall Migrants at the Rea Farm" meets at 7:30 a.m. in the parking lot on Bayshore Road (not at the Rea Farm produce stand on Stevens Street), and (3) 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.

South Jersey's 3 Christmas Bird Counts are 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. Belleplain CBC, Sunday, December 26; contact Paul Kosten at 609-861-5827. Cumberland County CBC, Sunday, January 2; contact Clay & Pat Sutton at 609-465-3397 or

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

Tri State Bird Rescue is handling all the oiled birds. They need paper towels, Q-Tips, flat sheets, bath towels, Ensure (Vanilla only) and Pediolite (plain only). If people would like to drop off any of these items at the Cape May Bird Observatory's Northwood Center in Cape May Point (701 E. Lake Drive -- open every day from 9 AM to 4:30 PM), CMBO will take items to Tri State. 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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