Cape May Natural History Hotline - 2/16/2006

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, February 16. New Jersey 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).

LONG-TAILED DUCKS are in love! On February 14, Valentine's Day, they were calling and males were wooing females at the 8th Street Jetty at the north end of Avalon. This location has been excellent for waterbirds. On February 9 "point blank" COMMON LOONS were feeding in the waters by this jetty and PURPLE SANDPIPERS on the jetty. An added bonus for the observer was a very close RAZORBILL on February 9 feeding next to the jetty. So, check it out, enjoy, and remember that anything is possible.

Spring waterfowl migration is definitely underway. The impoundments at Maple Street near Dividing Creek in Cumberland County were loaded on February 13. Those at Tuckahoe WMA and the Corbin City Unit of Tuckahoe are also very exciting these days. These concentrations are great places to witness amorous ducks.

GREAT HORNED OWLS, our earliest nesting bird, are on their nests now. Their young are due to hatch at the end of February or in early March. BALD EAGLES, our second earliest nesting bird, have also begun to nest. As of today, February 16, eleven pairs in NJ are incubating eggs - the first pair laid eggs on January 31 (others may not lay until late February). 34-36 days later the young will hatch. Incubating adults are now very hard to see low in the nest. But once the young hatch and begin to grow, all that will change. The pair of Bald Eagles at Beaver Swamp WMA, just up Sluice Creek from CMBO's Center in Goshen, is incubating eggs and has been since at least February 9. This nest can easily be viewed from the road end at Beaver Swamp WMA or the dike crossing the impoundment. Be sure to bring your telescope for the best view! RED-TAILED HAWKS continue to court. Pairs doing aerial performances have been filling the skies on good flying days, including several pairs seen from the back deck at the CMBO Center in Goshen.

Highlights from some of CMBO's weekly winter walks (requiring no preregistration) follow. (1) Every Sunday (8-10 a.m.), "Sunday Morning at Turkey Point" meets at the end of Turkey Point Road. 17 BALD EAGLES and 1 GOLDEN EAGLE were seen in this area on February 13. (2) Every other Sunday (Feb 19, March 5, 19), "Nightfall at Jakes Landing" meets at the end of Jakes Landing Road at 4:30 p.m. in February and at 5 p.m. in March, (3) Every other Sunday (Feb. 26, March 12, 26), "Nightfall at Corbin City Impoundments" meets on Griscom Mill Rd. (off Rt. 50) in the Corbin City Hall parking lot at 5 p.m. A dark ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, an immature GOLDEN EAGLE, and two hunting SHORT-EARED OWLS put on a show in the snowy landscape on February 12. (4) Every Saturday (8-10 a.m.) "Birding Cape May Point" meets at the Cape May Point State Park on the raised Picnic Pavilion. (5) Every Friday (4:30-dusk), "Winter Evenings at The Meadows" meets in TNC's parking lot on Sunset Boulevard. An AMERICAN BITTERN was seen here on February 11. For details on each walk as well as CMBO's many preregistration programs go to: http://www.njaudubon.org Calendar/calcmbo.html

Avian conjunctivitis has come to Cape May Court House. On February 8, one resident observed both House Finches and AMERICAN GOLDFINCH with it. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's website (http://www.cornell.edu) shares precautions to take so that it does not spread further.

During warm evenings AMERICAN WOODCOCK may display. Listen for the males' "peenting" followed by their aerial courtship flight. If you've never witnessed this incredible display, join Pat Sutton at CMBO's "Woodcock Dance," March 4 (5-7 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11, for more information or to register.

Explore the "Cape May NWR's Great Cedar Swamp Division" on Saturday, March 4 (Noon to 3:30 p.m.) with Pat Sutton and Refuge staff. Learn how to access this incredible Refuge and enjoy wild and remote parts of Cape May County you didn't know existed. Call 609-861-0700, x-11, for more information or to register.

Explore the "Two Mile Beach Unit of the Cape May NWR" on Wednesday, March 8 (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) with Associate Naturalist George Myers and Refuge staff. Between the beach and jetty and the maritime dune forest, anything is possible, including Harlequin Duck, Common Eider, Snow Bunting, anything! Call 609-861-0700, x-11, for more information or to register.

CMBO's Annual Optics Sale will be Saturday and Sunday, March 18-19. A "Poor Man's Pelagic" is scheduled for March 19 (7 to 11 a.m.) utilizing the Cape May Lewes Ferry. "Birding Cumberland - with a focus on the eagle-rich Cohansey River" is scheduled for Sunday, March 19 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Both still have room! Call 609-861-0700, x-11, for more information or to register.

The fields and trails were cut at Hidden Valley and at Higbee Beach either in late December or early January. Hip Hip Hurrah! No more getting torn up by Multiflora Rose, and maybe BLUEBIRDS and BOBOLINKS will be back in these fields this spring.

As part of CMBO's 2006 Cape May Birding Workshops Michael O'Brien will teach a "2-Day Birding by Ear Workshop," Thursday and Friday, May 4-5, 2006. This workshop will lead right into a "2-Day Warbler Workshop" with Louise Zemaitis and Michael O'Brien on Saturday and Sunday, May 6-7. Both of these workshops still have room, but tend to fill fast. To register for either, call 609-861-0700, x-11. To learn more about these workshops or the 12 other "2006 Cape May Birding Workshops" go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks06.html

Aside from the many NJ Audubon field trips to this location, the Barnegat Lighthouse State Park is hosting a special day called "HARBOR SEALS & HARLEQUINS" on Saturday, March 11, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., to include guided wildlife watching walks, opportunities to climb the lighthouse, and activities for all ages. For more information, call 609-494-2016.

See Life Paulagics' annual Cape May pelagic trip (run for over 20 years now) will be on Sunday, March 5. Target species will be: Fulmar, Great Skua, Kittiwake, Red Phalarope, Razorbill, Common Murre, Dovekie, Atlantic Puffin, jaegers, Gannets, Kittiwake, Glaucous & Iceland Gulls, Little & Bonaparte's Gulls, whales, dolphins, and anything else they come across. All of the target species have been seen on this trip in the past, including 2 very rare Northern Right Whales. This trip will run from 6:00 AM to about 6:00 PM, aboard the Miss Chris II, docked at the Miss Chris marina in Cape May. For more information or to make a reservation, contact See Life Paulagics at http://www.paulagics.com; 215-234-6805, or info AT paulagics.com

CMBO's bookstore hours follow: the Northwood Center in Cape May Point is open Thursday-Monday, 9-4:30. The Center for Research and Education on Route 47 in Goshen is open daily (7 days a week) from 9-4:30.

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!

Patricia Sutton
Program Director
New Jersey Audubon Society's
Cape May Bird Observatory
Center for Research & Education
600 Route 47 North
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
609-861-0700, x-16 (phone) / 609-861-1651 (fax) pat.sutton AT njaudubon.org

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