Cape May Natural History Hotline - 2/11/2005

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 Friday, February 11. 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 website (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on "Sightings" (at the top of any page). The CMBO Center in Goshen is again open seven days/week. So both centers are now open daily 9-4:30.

When the ground was frozen birds struggled to survive. On February 3, in Port Republic, a flock of E. BLUEBIRDS came to an outdoor display of cut vegetation and proceeded to feast on Winged Sumac seed heads. In Goshen, a YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER has been feeding on suet and sunflower hearts. Temperatures in the 40s and low 50s this week finally opened up waterways and thawed frozen ground. On February 5th there was a spring-like dawn chorus of N. CARDINALS, MOURNING DOVES, and CAROLINA WRENS. More and more RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS were singing "konk-a-ree" this week. Morning Doves were doing their display flight. GREAT CORMORANTS are in breeding plumage, showing their full white flank patch, including one in Townsend's Inlet north of Avalon on February 6. It's a neat time of year, winter and spring overlapping. A SEAL was on Alexander Avenue Jetty in Cape May Point February 8. And a RED FOX on February 9 hid behind a Muskrat house at Brigantine NWR, near feeding ducks.

Some pairs of GREAT HORNED OWLS have been on nests since late January. Other pairs have not yet laid eggs, including one pair at Turkey Point, spotted at dusk during the Cumberland Co. Winter Raptor Festival on February 5. While 100s watched they mated. Once the eggs are laid one adult will remain on the nest at all times incubating the eggs.

All of New Jersey's breeding BALD EAGLES are paired up and defending their nesting territory. A few pairs have laid eggs in the last week. Other pairs are still working on nests, displaying for each other, and mating. The pair is back at Beaver Swamp WMA, just up Sluice Creek from CMBO's Center in Goshen. Last year this pair failed (which is not unusual the first year). Pat Sutton is the official volunteer nest observer at Beaver Swamp WMA. Please report any sightings of this pair to her at 609-861-0700, x16.

On February 5, an EASTERN PHOEBE and a flock of 30 AMERICAN PIPITS were enjoyed during Mark Garland's "Winter at the Rea Farm" walk. This walk is held every Saturdays (2-4 p.m.) and meets in the Rea Farm parking lot on Bayshore Road.

At least 7 BALD EAGLES (including a pair mating), a GOLDEN EAGLE, dozens of RED-TAILED HAWKS (including a pair mating), 2 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS (1 dark & 1 light), numbers of GREAT BLUE HERONS, COMMON and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, and the pair of GREAT HORNED OWLS mentioned above were enjoyed at Turkey Point and the Maple Avenue Impoundments on February 5. To really learn and enjoy this area be sure to attend CMBO's "Sunday Morning at Turkey Point" walk, held every Sundays (8-10 a.m.). This walk meets at the end of Turkey Point Road in Cumberland County (reached from Rt. 553 south of the town of Dividing Creek). "Nightfall at Jakes Landing," held every Sunday (4 p.m. to dusk), is another excellent opportunity to enjoy diurnal and nocturnal raptors! This walk meets at the end of Jakes Landing Road, north of Dennisville.

RED-THROATED LOONS stage here each winter and early spring, gathering at the mouth of the Delaware Bay, their numbers growing day by day. 60 were counted there on February 8. The March 16 "Cruisin' for Loons" trip (12:30-5 p.m.) is timed to drink this in plus COMMON LOONS in full breeding plumage (just before they migrate north). Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register.

Winter is the best time of year to study waterfowl. There were many SURF SCOTER and LONG-TAILED DUCKS at the Avalon Seawatch on February 5; RED-NECKED GREBES, CANVASBACK, and COMMON LOON in Sunset Lake in Wildwood Crest on February 8; an immature male KING EIDER and increasing numbers of all 3 SCOTERS (including very vocal BLACK SCOTER) off Brainard Avenue in Cape May Point on February 10. Perfect timing for two upcoming trips: (1) CMBO's "Longtails in Love" field trip with Pat Sutton on Saturday, February 12 (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) - there's still room - call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register, or meet the group at 10 a.m. at the Avalon Sea Watch (7th Street and the beach), and (2) a "poor man's pelagic" with Mark Garland on February 20 called "Birding From the Ferry" (7 to 11 a.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register.

The impoundments at the Corbin City and Tuckahoe WMAs are also excellent for waterfowl. Bald and Golden Eagles and Short-eared Owls have been regular there this winter. Learn these interesting areas by joining Pat Sutton & Karen Johnson for the "Tuckahoe & Corbin City WMA Field Trip," Saturday, February 19 (2-6 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register for one or all of these upcoming trips! CMBO's Waterfowl Art Exhibit is on display at CMBO Center in Goshen. Stop by and be dazzled!

CMBO's 2005 Cape May Birding Workshops are set. Registrations are being taken now. To receive the workshop brochure call 609-861-0700 or go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks05.html

Enjoy winter birds by attending upcoming CMBO programs:

Weekly walks (no advanced registration, $6 members, $10 for others): . Fridays, beginning February 18 (4:30 p.m. to dusk), "Winter Evenings at the Meadows" meets at 4:30 p.m. in TNC's parking lot on Sunset Boulevard. . Saturdays (8-10 a.m.), "Birding Cape May Point" meets at 8 a.m. in the "South Shelter" raised pavilion at the Cape May Point State Park. . Saturdays (2-4 p.m.), "Winter at the Rea Farm" with Mark Garland meets at 2 p.m. in the Rea Farm parking lot on Bayshore Road. . Sundays (8-10 a.m.), "Sunday Morning at Turkey Point" meets at 8 a.m. at the end of Turkey Point Road in Cumberland County (reached from Rt. 553 south of the town of Dividing Creek). . Sundays (4 p.m. to dusk), "Nightfall at Jakes Landing" meets at the end of Jakes Landing Road, near Dennisville. . Sunday, February 20 (2 to 4 p.m.), "Birding Skills for Beginners" meets at the Wildlife Viewing Platform in the Cape May Point State Park.

Special programs and field trips in addition to those already mentioned follow (prices vary: call 609-861-0700 for info and to register): . 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.) . CMBO's 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 2005; contact either CMBO Center for a copy of the Kestrel Express, which features the schedule, or go to NJ Audubon's website: http://www.njaudubon.org

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 the Winter or Spring Program Schedules (the Kestrel Express), stop at either CMBO Center, 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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