Cape May Natural History Hotline - 2/24/2006

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 Friday, February 24. 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).

WOODCOCK are in love and dancing! On February 23, at 6:15 p.m. during the last bit of light, several males performed their wonderful aerial displays over CMBO's Center in Goshen. Several were also displaying on February 22, at 6:05 a.m., in Goshen when the temperatures were only 29 degrees F. So, they're pumped. Now's the time no matter what the temperature! If you've never witnessed this incredible display, join Pat Sutton for CMBO's "Woodcock Dance," March 4 (5-7 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11, for more information or to register.

The Cape May NWR is again surveying for American Woodcock and would love your help. The 4 evening surveys will be Friday, March 3 and Saturday, March 4 (5:15pm), and Friday, April 21 and Saturday, April 22: (7:15pm). Volunteers will meet at the Refuge Headquarters Office at 24 Kimbles Beach Road for brief instructions. Actual surveys will take approximately 30 minutes, total time commitment will be approximately 2 hours. Call Heidi at (609) 463-0994 if interested.

Waterfowl are definitely on the move - their spring migration is underway and numbers are growing. On February 16, at Bivalve and further north on the Maurice River, 1,350 GREEN-WINGED TEAL were tallied. On February 15, 125 HOODED MERGANSERS were seen from "7 Bridges Road" in the Great Bay Boulevard WMA. On February 21, Beaver Swamp WMA (just up Sluice Creek from the CMBO Center in Goshen) hosted 20 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 4 WOOD DUCKS, 3 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 1 COMMON GOLDENEYE, and lots of BLACK DUCKS. On February 21, the Corbin City and Tuckahoe impoundments held 400+ GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 600 N. PINTAIL, 90 HOODED MERGANSERS, 40 COMMON MERGANSERS, and 24 TUNDRA SWANS. Join Karen Johnson and other leaders at Corbin City (or Tuckahoe, if that's where the birds are) to savor these goodies and more, every other Sunday (Feb. 26, March 12, 26), for the "Nightfall at Corbin City Impoundments" - meets on Griscom Mill Rd. (off Rt. 50) in the Corbin City Hall parking lot at 5 p.m.

SHORT-EARED OWLS are still here, but few reports are coming in. On February 19, between 4:50 and 5:50 p.m., 3 put on an incredible, close show at the end of Leeds Point Road. GREAT HORNED OWLS have been silent, no doubt on eggs, which may be hatching soon.

Many of NJ's breeding BALD EAGLES are on eggs or will be soon. The pair at Beaver Swamp WMA, just north of CMBO's Center in Goshen, is incubating eggs and has been since at least February 9. On February 21, the adults switched seats, but not before mating. The male had been in a tree nearby. The female left the nest, joined him, and after quickly mating, he (not she) returned to take over incubation duty. At 8:44 a.m. she headed out toward the Delaware Bay (and Jakes Landing area) to hunt, despite the waters below the nest brimming with waterfowl. 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!

Spring is an amazing time. When it's time, it's time! Suddenly birds are back, but we don't always see them arriving. On February 17, 9 BOAT-TAILED GRACKLES were seen crossing the Delaware Bay, heading north. On February 21, a TRICOLORED HERON and TREE SWALLOW were both seen at Two Mile Landing. A din of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS filled the dawn on February 21, as well as a few TUFTED TITMICE singing their "peter, peter, peter." KILLDEER were displaying at Bivalve on February 16. Two BALTIMORE ORIOLES continue to reside in a luscious backyard habitat in Erma (just south of Rio Grande), feasting on orange slices. On February 17 they were beginning to show some bright orange coloration.

DAFFODILS are up about 6 inches and buds are forming. On warm days overwintering butterflies have been seen. On February 16, when temperatures rose to 60 degrees F., a MOURNING CLOAK was seen on Hansey Creek Road and an E. COMMA along the Maurice River, in Cumberland County. When temperatures plummeted again, they no doubt each went back to their sheltered nook. On February 21, a SPOTTED TURTLE was sunning at the Corbin City impoundments.

CMBO's weekly winter walks (requiring no preregistration ), not already mentioned, follow: (1) Every Friday (4:30 p.m.-dusk on Feb. 24, 5 p.m.-dusk in March), "Winter Evenings at The Meadows" meets in TNC's parking lot on Sunset Boulevard. (2) Every Saturday (8-10 a.m.) "Birding Cape May Point" meets at the Cape May Point State Park on the raised Picnic Pavilion. (3) Every Sunday (8-10 a.m.), "Sunday Morning at Turkey Point" meets at the end of Turkey Point Road, a very eagle-y spot. (4) Every other Sunday (March 5, 19), "Nightfall at Jakes Landing" meets at the end of Jakes Landing Road at 5 p.m. For details on each walk as well as CMBO's many preregistration programs go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

** Call 609-861-0700, x-11, for more information or to register for the following programs.

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. **

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! **

CMBO's 11th Annual Optics Sale will be Saturday and Sunday, March 18-19 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Brochures have been sent to members and can be downloaded on NJ Audubon's website. This sale is open to members of NJ Audubon and/or CMBO ONLY. If you are not a member, join today and take advantage of fabulous deals!

A "Poor Man's Pelagic" is scheduled for Saturday, March 18 (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! **

Pete Dunne's next "2-Day Bird Watching for Beginners Course" will be offered March 24-25. Friday evening's indoor session runs from 5-7 p.m, followed by an outing Saturday morning (8 a.m. to noon). **

CMBO's Gardens in Goshen need to be prepared for spring. Join us for one of the 6 "Garden Cleanup" sessions in March: (1) Thursdays, March 9, 16 (3-6:30 p.m.), (2) Fridays and Saturdays, March 10, 11, 24, 25 (9 a.m. to noon). Dinner or lunch provided! Call with dates you'd like to help: (609) 861-0700, x-11.

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. A February 21 trip our of Freeport, NY, had Thick-billed Murre, 20 Common Murres, 20 Razorbills, a Puffin, 4 Iceland Gulls, 12 Kittiwakes, and 1,675 Dovekies! The March 5 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.

New Jersey Audubon Society is currently recruiting volunteer Grasslands Monitoring Associates for its Citizen Science Program. Participants must have prior experience in grassland bird identification and be able to visit their assigned sites/routes approximately four times from May 1 through August 15. These surveys are intended to determine the distribution and abundance of grassland birds, and monitor the success of grassland habitat management programs. Those interested in participating in the project should contact Mike Bisignano, 11 Hardscrabble Road, PO Box 693, Bernardsville, NJ 07924, tel. (908) 766-5787 / fax (908) 766-7775, mike.bisignano@njaudubon.org.

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 Spring Kestrel Express (now through May) 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!

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