Cape May Natural History Hotline - 2/19/2004

You have reached the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This message was prepared on Thursday, February 19. 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 web site (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on "Sightings" at the top of any page.

Late winter is a great time to study waterfowl! Loon numbers build off Cape May and Cape May Point as they stage here before migrating north. 30 COMMON LOONS and 60 RED-THROATED LOONS were counted in these waters on February 12. Every SATURDAY " Birding Cape May Point" (8:00-10:00 a.m), requiring no preregistration, meets in the raised pavilion at the Cape May Point State Park -- a great way to witness the buildup of loons and the gathering of other visitors. CMBO's popular "Cruisin' For Loons" is scheduled for Sunday, April 25 (9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) when numbers of Red-throateds will be peaking and when Common Loons in the back bays will be coming into full breeding plumage. A single raft of 10,000 scoters was visible off Cape May Point between February 12-14. A trip to Poverty Beach, reached from the northern end of Beach Avenue in Cape May, and to the Cold Spring Jetty via the Cape May NWR's "Two Mile Beach Unit" is a must right now. 5 HARLEQUIN DUCKS (4 males and a female), 8 GREAT CORMORANT, 15+ COMMON EIDERS, and 4 KING EIDERS continue to feed around either the north jetty or the south jetty. To learn this area join Mark Garland for CMBO's upcoming "Winter at Two Mile Beach" on Sunday, February 29 (1:00 to 4:00 p.m.). Savor waterfowl, gannets, and other goodies with Mark Garland on the "Birding From the Ferry" trip on Saturday, February 21 (7:00 to 11:00 a.m.). To register for any of these special trips, call 609-861-0700, x-11, while there are still openings.

LONG-TAILED DUCKS were indeed "in love" on Valentine's Day during CMBO's February 14 field trip. Dozens were calling ("south-souther-lee, south-souther-lee") and displaying in the waters visible near the bridges at either end of Nummy's Island, along with displaying RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, a raft of 100+ scaup, HORNED GREBES, 2 GREAT CORMORANT on a buoy just inland from the toll bridge, 10 AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER, and numbers of loons.

From now on, evenings where temperatures are above 41 degrees will be busy with displaying male AMERICAN WOODCOCK. Witness and hear this elaborate nuptial flight and learn all about our only woodland shorebird with Pat Sutton during CMBO's "Woodcock Dance" field trip on Saturday, March 6 (5:00 to 7:00 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register. Every Wednesday, (March 10-24), Mark Garland will lead "Woodcock, Owls, and Frogs" at 5:00 p.m., meeting at Higbee Beach WMA at the end of New England Road. Every Friday (now through March 26), "Winter Evenings at the Meadows" meets at 4:30 p.m. in The Nature Conservancy's parking lot on Sunset Boulevard to enjoy woodcock displaying, snipe on the move, Virginia Rails calling and other signs of spring. No preregistration needed for these Wednesday and Friday walks, just come! To help with an American Woodcock breeding survey on the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge (April 10-30), call Heidi Hanlon, the refuge's wildlife biologist, at (609) 463-0994.

Every Saturday "Late Winter at the Rea Farm" (2:00-4:00 p.m.) meets in the parking lot on Bayshore Road (not at the Rea Farm produce stand on Stevens Street). On February 14, this walk enjoyed over 40 AMERICAN PIPIT, swept the falcons (MERLIN, PEREGRINE, and AMERICAN KESTREL), studied 10 SAVANNAH SPARROWS, and enjoyed a RED-SHOULDERED HAWK.

Not all GREAT HORNED OWLS have laid eggs yet, though we think of them as our earliest nesting bird. A pair mated atop a snag along Stow Creek on February 16. Once the female is on eggs, only the male will be seen at dusk. SHORT-EARED OWLS continue to hunt the marshes at Jakes Landing Road, along with several ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS and many NORTHERN HARRIER. February 18, a SHORT-EARED OWL at Jakes Landing lost its prey to an aggressive N. Harrier. The harrier promptly dropped the prey, which turned out to be a "still alive" Red-winged Blackbird. Join Karen Johnson every Sunday for "Nightfall at Jakes Landing," meeting at 4:30 p.m. at the end of Jakes Landing Road, no preregistration required.

A GOLDEN EAGLE continues to be seen in the Dividing Creek area, along with good numbers of BALD EAGLES. To enjoy this special area join Karen Johnson and Karen Williams every Sunday at 8:00 a.m. at the end of Turkey Point Road in Cumberland County for "Sunday Mornings at Turkey Point;" no preregistration required.

Many of the 45+ pairs of resident adult BALD EAGLES in New Jersey can be found near their nests this time of year. Quite a few are already on eggs with either the female or the male always perched low inside the nest. The first pair laid eggs February 5 . Be sure to report any behavior that may indicate nesting to the NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program at 609-628-2103, since you might have discovered a new pair. The Maurice River is a Bald Eagle hotspot. A pair on the upper river began incubating their eggs February 12. CMBO is again offering 2 half hour "Bald Eagle Cruises on the Maurice River" this spring. These trips sail through waters and marshes attractive to 10-25+ Bald Eagles, and an active nest. There is still room on the following "Bald Eagle Cruises," but many are filling quickly: March 20 (10 a.m.), March 20 (1 p.m.), March 21 (10 a.m.), March 27 (1 p.m.), March 28 (10 a.m.), April 3 (10 a.m.), and April 4 (10 a.m.). The next "Birding Cumberland" field trip with Clay and Pat Sutton will explore the Cohansey River area on Saturday, March 13 (9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.), also a very eagle-y area! Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register for any of these cruises or trips.

Winter gardens are fun to explore now. Look for the very camouflaged ways in which our insects winter over on last year's now-dead plant stems: Preying Mantis egg cases, butterfly chrysalides, and moth cocoons.

Biologists from the NJ Endangered & Nongame Species Program are in Chile now in search of wintering shorebirds, especially Red Knot. Read about their trip via the 2004 journal at: http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/ensp/chile/index.html

NJ Audubon's Cape May Spring Weekend will be held on May 21-23, 2004. This incredible 3-day event includes zillions of field trips, indoor workshops, field ID programs, back bay cruises, a mini-pelagic trip, celebrated speakers like Scott Weidensaul sharing "The Ghost with Trembling Wings: The Search for Lost Species," and excellent times with other nature lovers! And all held at the peak of shorebirds feasting on Horseshoe Crab eggs, spring warblers breeding and migrating through, butterflies and dragonflies, gardening for wildlife, and more! To learn more & download a registration form, go to NJ Audubon's web site at: http://www.njaudubon.org/Centers/CMBO/SpringWeekend.html

CMBO's complete listing of "2004 Cape May Birding Workshops" is now posted on New Jersey Audubon's web site: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks04.html Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to request a brochure be sent to you once available.

CMBO will next teach the "Nikon School of Birding" April 23-25, Friday through Sunday. This workshop is designed to help birders of all experience levels build better birding skills. Call 609-861-0700 or stop by either center to request the Nikon School of Birding brochure.

The Cape May Bird Observatory offers many other special programs. Copies of CMBO's WINTER and SPRING Program Schedule are available at both centers -- or request a copy by calling 609-861-0700 -- or go to New Jersey Audubon's web site where a full listing of CMBO's SPRING 2004 PROGRAMS (March through May) are posted (with a link to the remaining WINTER Programs) at: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

The NJ DEP's Endangered and Nongame Species Program is looking for volunteers to survey reptiles and amphibians throughout NJ this spring. Training seminars are offered 3 different dates: #1 February 28 at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey (Classroom B126), in Pomona (lecture: 9 a.m. - noon; field session: 1 - 3 p.m.); capacity: 50 persons. #2 March 6 at Hackettstown Natural Resource Education Center (located within the Hackettstown Fish Hatchery), in Hackettstown (lecture: 9 a.m. - noon; field session: 1 - 3 p.m.); capacity: 80 persons. #3 March 13 at Lord Stirling Environmental Education Center, in Basking Ridge (lecture: 9 a.m. - noon; field session: 1 - 3 p.m.); capacity: 75 persons. Participants may register via e-mail at vernalpools@yahoo.com. Be sure to include the training seminar you wish to attend, name of attendee(s), your mailing address and telephone number. An e-mail containing registration confirmation and driving directions to the appropriate seminar will be sent back to you. Those without e-mail capabilities can call 908-735-8975 to register. For more information, visit the Division of Fish and Wildlife's website at: http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/ensp/vernal

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. Natural history sightings can be written on sighting sheets at either CMBO center or called in to 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@njaudubon.org

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