CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY AND EVENTS HOTLINE, February 24, 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 24. 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
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.
As this hotline is being written snow is coming down. Several inches
have already blanketed the ground. Despite this reminder of winter,
each warm day will see more signs of spring.
The pair of BALD EAGLES at Beaver Swamp WMA, just up Sluice Creek from
CMBOs Center in Goshen, is getting very serious about nesting. They
were one of the highlights during CMBOs Nightfall at Jakes Landing
walk on February 20. That evening, at 4 p.m. the pair mated near Rt.
47. The male then flew down and snatched up the top third of a Muskrat
house, and flew off with it back towards the nest. On February 23, at
5:30 p.m. both adults were perched at the nest. The male observing as
the female worked diligently at arranging material in the nest. At 6
p.m. when it was nearly dark they mated. 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. CMBOs Sunday
Morning at Turkey Point walk, held every Sunday (8-10 a.m.), continues
to enjoy BALD EAGLES, including another active nest near Dividing
Creek. This walk meets at the end of Turkey Point Road in Cumberland
County (reached from Rt. 553 south of the town of Dividing Creek).
An exploration of the eagle-rich Cohansey River is scheduled for
Saturday, March 12 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) during CMBOs Birding
Cumberland field trip with Clay & Pat Sutton. The Cape May NWR Field
Trip on Saturday, March 5 (1 to 4 p.m.) will explore the Great Cedar
Swamp area at a time of year and a time of day when we just may hear
Barred Owls as their nesting season approaches. Call 609-861-0700, x-11
to register for either trip.
SHORT-EARED OWLS continue to entertain. CMBOs field trip to Tuckahoe
and Corbin City WMA on February 19 savored at least 5 (and maybe as
many as 8) hunting Short-ears some very close, others beyond, and
others in the background. Two hunted very close to the Jakes Landing
Parking lot during the February 20 Nightfall at Jakes Landing walk.
On February 23 at the Corbin City Unit of the Tuckahoe WMA numbers were
again hunting, including one displaying, clapping its wings under its
body during flight. Short-ears are being seen nightly at Corbin City
from 5:30 p.m. until full dark. The Corbin City Unit is reached from
Rt. 50, north of the Tuckahoe River. Turn right on Griscom Mill Road
and right again past the houses to reach the driving dike between
freshwater impoundments and tidal saltmarsh. The best concentration of
Short-eared Owl activity has been where the driving dike reaches the
first impoundment on the left and a creek goes off through the
saltmarsh on the right. The birds perch on the many old fence posts in
the marsh and hunt the marsh around and beyond them. Other treats at
this site, earlier in the day, include waterfowl (if the waters are not
frozen), TUNDRA SWANS (7 on Feb. 19), BALD EAGLES, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS,
and many N. HARRIER.
AMERICAN WOODCOCK are displaying now on the warmer evenings and at
dawn. At least 3 were peenting in the field on Jakes Landing Road on
February 20th at 6 p.m. during the Nightfall at Jakes Landing walk.
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 19, the wintering EASTERN PHOEBE was
again enjoyed at the Rea Farm along with a MERLIN, and 3 BROWN
CREEPERS. Join Mark Garland Saturday, February 26 (2-4 p.m.) for the
final Winter at the Rea Farm walk. This walk meets in the Rea Farm
parking lot on Bayshore Road.
Other signs of spring this week include noisy flocks of RED-WINGED
BLACKBIRDS konk-a-reeing, E. MEADOWLARKS singing spring of the year
at Jakes Landing at dusk on February 21, increased numbers of waterfowl
in open water,
GREAT HORNED OWLS, our earliest nesting birds, have been on nests since
late January. Their young will hatch in late February / early March.
Most Great Horned Owl nests are in pine trees and hard to see, but
occasionally theyll use an old Osprey or Red-tailed Hawk nest out in
the open. Just such a nest is being used in Salem County on a major
power line structure on Money Island Road, off Fort Elfsborg Road. A
walking trail from a public parking lot goes under the power line and
offers an incredible look at the adult incubating the eggs. Be sure to
stay on the trail and view from this safe distance. You would not want
to be the cause of the adults abandoning the nest. Once the young have
hatched the adult will begin to sit higher and higher on the nest. And
once the young are sizable, the adult will no longer fit on the nest
On February 20, Mannington Marsh was packed with BALD EAGLES (2 adults
and 7 immatures, including 5 immatures together on the ice) waterfowl
(75 TUNDRA SWANS, close to 500 COMMON MERGANSERS, 230 N. PINTAIL, 80
GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 35 AMERICAN WIGEON, 50 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 60
GADWALL, 15 HOODED MERGANSER, and 6 N. SHOVELER). An additional 8 BALD
EAGLES were at Canton / Stow Creek, including 5 immatures (3 together
on the frozen marsh and perched on Muskrat houses).
Lots of BONAPARTES GULLS are around right now. This dainty, winter
gull is more like a tern than a gull. 125 were at the Concrete Ship on
February 19. A FORSTERS TERN, just back from its winter quarters, was
at Poverty Beach in Cape May on February 20.
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.
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:
Enjoy late winter and early spring birding by attending upcoming CMBO
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.
Saturday (2-4 p.m.), 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.
Sundays, beginning March 6 (1 to 2:30 p.m.), Birding for First
Timers meets at the North Shelter 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):
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
BIRDING FROM THE FERRY with Mark Garland Saturday, March 26 (7-11
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 spring Kestrel Express, which features the schedule,
or go to NJ Audubons website: http://www.njaudubon.org and click on
Calendar, then on Cape May Bird Observatory.
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
firstname.lastname@example.org, 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
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!