Cape May Natural History Hotline - 2/17/2005

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, February 17. 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.

A call for volunteers to help with fencing to protect beach nesting birds (Piping Plovers, Least Terns, and Black Skimmers) on Saturday, March 26th (Cape May Point State Park colony), and Saturday, April 2nd (Stone Harbor Point colony), can be found at the end of this hotline.

There have been many signs of spring this week. Daffodils are UP about 2" with new buds. On February 15, a tick was found after a foray to Jakes Landing where a few SPRING PEEPERS were peeping from the woods and E. MEADOWLARKS were singing on the marsh. On February 16 a SPOTTED TURTLE was out of hibernation and sunning at Corbin City WMA, and a bat was hunting at dusk. At the same time there are many reminders of winter, including a huge (i.e. adult) HARBOR SEAL at Graveling Point in Great Bay on February 11.

On February 13, springs first AMERICAN WOODCOCK were peenting promptly just at dusk, 5:45 p.m., in a fallow field in Goshen, at 6 a.m. on February 14 at the CMBO Center in Goshen, and on February 15 at the CMBO Northwood Center right on schedule! CMBOs Woodcock Dance on Saturday, March 5 (5-7 p.m.) still has room. Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register. Another opportunity to enjoy Woodcock displaying is CMBOs Winter Evenings at the Meadows walk every Friday, 4:30 p.m. till dusk, meeting in the TNC parking lot on Sunset Boulevard. On February 16, the wintering EASTERN PHOEBE was again enjoyed at the Rea Farm. Join Mark Garland every Saturday through February 26 (2-4 p.m.) for the Winter at the Rea Farm walk. This walk meets in the Rea Farm parking lot on Bayshore Road.

Marsh viewing is excellent right now. The winter ice and snow cover sheared off the marsh grasses so one can see for miles. This is excellent for raptor scanning, both diurnal and nocturnal!

CMBOs Nightfall at Jakes Landing walk, held every Sunday (4 p.m. to dusk), enjoyed 4 SHORT-EARED OWLS, 1 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK (dark), and a pair of BALD EAGLES on February 13. This walk meets at the end of Jakes Landing Road, north of Dennisville. The Mullica River on March 11, from Green Bank to Little Egg Inlet, held 15 BALD EAGLES (9 adults), 2 GOLDEN EAGLES (adults), and 18 ROUGH-LEGS (13 light morph). The Rough-legs were mostly at Motts Creek and Swan Bay WMA. 10 SHORT-EARED OWLS hunted and interacted with each other at Corbin City WMA on February 12, seen from 4:45 p.m. on. 2 Bald Eagles, 2 Rough-legs, (2), an adult Golden Eagle, and 2 Wilsons Snipe were seen there February 16. This bodes well for CMBOs Tuckahoe & Corbin City WMA Field Trip, Saturday, February 19 (2-6 p.m.), which is full with a waiting list. Kettles of BALD EAGLES (11-14), a GOLDEN EAGLE, and hundreds of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS were seen February 13 during CMBOs Sunday Morning at Turkey Point walk, held every Sunday (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). SHORT-EARED OWLS were also seen this week at Newport Landing (2 on Feb. 13), 10 minutes north of Dividing Creek. Now that the snow and ice have melted owlers have explored and found many, many owl pellets in favorite winter roost sites along the Delaware Bayshore, indicating a late movement of owls into this region sometime in January (after Christmas Bird Counts).

CMBOs Longtails In Love trip, February 12, enjoyed all 3 scoters (including WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS at the Avalon Seawatch), numbers of RED-THROATED and COMMON LOONS, RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, HORNED GREBE, PURPLE SANDPIPERS (20 on the 114th Street jetty, Stone Harbor), GREAT CORMORANTS (Townsends Inlet on Sea Isle side, Hereford Inlet, and Two Mile Beach), 1000s of BRANT, AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (Stone Harbor and Nummys Island), and many LONG-TAILED DUCKS between the Avalon Seawatch and the Cape May NWR ponds on Ocean Drive. 700 BLACK & SURF SCOTER, 3 WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, 150 BONAPARTES GULLS, and an adult BLACK-HEADED GULL were seen February 16 between the Ferry terminal and Alexander Avenue Jetty in Cape May Point. A poor mans pelagic with Mark Garland on February 20 called Birding From the Ferry (7 to 11 a.m.) is just the ticket to see many of these birds and more. Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register. With the thaw SNOW GEESE returned and can be found again on the Delaware Bay marshes.

RED-THROATED LOONS stage here each winter and early spring, gathering at the mouth of the Delaware Bay, their numbers growing day by day. The Concrete Ship or any of the jetties in Cape May Point are excellent vantage points to witness building numbers. The birds move around with the tide, so if you do not see them, go back at a different tide. 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.

All of New Jerseys breeding BALD EAGLES are paired up and defending nesting territory. A few have already laid eggs. The pair is back at Beaver Swamp WMA, just up Sluice Creek from CMBOs Center in Goshen. Last year this pair failed (which is not unusual the first year). Theyve been fussing with the nest this week, but not yet on eggs. 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.

GREAT HORNED OWLS were calling at 4 p.m. on February 13 in Goshen. If you hear the pair dueting now, the female is calling from the nest. These are our earliest nesting birds.

CMBOs 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 late winter and early spring birding by attending upcoming CMBO programs:

Weekly walks (no advanced registration, $6 members, $10 for others): Fridays (4:30 p.m. to dusk), Winter Evenings at the Meadows meets at 4:30 p.m. in TNCs 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.) through February 26, 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.) 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.) CMBOs 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 Audubons website: http://www.njaudubon.org

NJs Fish and Wildlifes Endangered and Nongame Species Program is looking for volunteers to assist with the Annual Fencing Days to protect endangered beach nesting birds (Piping Plovers, Least Terns and Black Skimmers. Fencing nesting habitat reduces disturbance as the birds are establishing territory and protects the vulnerable ground nests once eggs are laid. This project is perfect for those who are unable to make a long-term commitment. Each fencing date only requires a few hours of mildly strenuous work (pounding posts, placing rope and signage). Fencing dates this year include Saturday, March 26th at 10am at Cape May Point State Park and Saturday, April 2nd at 10am at Stone Harbor Point. Contact Christina Kisiel, 609.628.2103 or ckisiel@gtc3.com, for questions and to register.

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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