Cape May Natural History Hotline - 2/26/2004

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 message was prepared on Thursday, February 26. 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.

AMERICAN WOODCOCK are displaying now during a brief and magical window each evening and dawn around 6:00 a.m. or p.m. Their faint calls and twitters, preceded by the nasal "peent," is an auditory MUST in spring. If you've never witnessed this display be sure to take advantage of the CMBO offerings. There is still room on the Saturday, March 6 (5:00 to 7:00 p.m.) "Woodcock Dance" field trip with Pat Sutton (call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register). Plus, needing no preregistration, 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 and 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. During CMBO's "Nightfall at Jakes Landing" on Sunday, February 22 (which meets Every Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at the end of Jakes Landing Road and requires no preregistration) 3 woodcock were enjoyed as they displayed, and all after savoring a SHORT-EARED OWL as it hunted between 6:00-6:20 p.m., a dark ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS, many NORTHERN HARRIER, and waterfowl. 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.

As of February 18, eleven pairs of BALD EAGLES in New Jersey were already incubating eggs. The first pair laid on February 4th. Some pairs will not lay their eggs until early or mid-March. One eagle nest on February 10 was found to have a pair of Great Horned Owls using it. Currently there are 45 pairs of adult Bald Eagles in NJ on territory near their nests. 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. CMBO is again offering 2-hour "Bald Eagle Cruises on the Maurice River" this spring -- trips that will sail through waters and marshes attractive to 10-25+ Bald Eagles, and by an active nest where the birds began incubating eggs February 12. There is still room on the following trips, 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.). Another eagle-filled outing promises to be the next "Birding Cumberland -- The Cohansey River" field trip with Clay and Pat Sutton on Saturday, March 13 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register for any of the cruises or the Birding Cumberland trip). Plus, needing no preregistration, every Sunday, the "Sunday Mornings at Turkey Point" walk (which meets at 8:00 a.m. at the end of Turkey Point Road in Cumberland County) has been enjoying quite an eagle show. On February 22, one adult Bald Eagle was enjoyed on its nest, while 4 immatures fed on the marsh, and a GOLDEN EAGLE (that has been in the area all winter) was seen nearby.

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 24, this area held E. PHOEBE, RED-SHOULDERED HAWK, 2 WINTER WRENS, 30 AMERICAN PIPIT, 30 BLACK VULTURES, and a RUSTY BLACKBIRD.

RED-TAILED HAWKS are in pairs, performing courtship flights, and have been seen copulating this week. They'll soon be on nests. Woodpeckers are drumming to declare their nesting territory. NORTHERN CARDINALS are singing. MOURNING DOVES are cooing. Flocks of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS are singing their spring song: Konk-a-reee. 13 TUNDRA SWANS flew north over Cape May Point on February 21. HARBOR SEALS were seen this week off Cape May City and off Cape May Point.

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. The Point on February 23 enjoyed a HARLEQUIN DUCK and thousands upon thousands of scoters, including all 3 species, at St. Mary's Jetty, 5 CANVASBACKS at Bunker Pond, and a SNOW BUNTING at the Concrete Ship. On the 21st the State Park ponds held 35 HOODED MERGANSER, 1 COMMON MERGANSER, and 5 RING-NECKED DUCKS, and 2 COMMON EIDER were at St. Mary's Jetty on Feb. 20. Sign up to accompany Mark Garland for an exploration of "Winter at Two Mile Beach" on Sunday, February 29, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. (call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register) to enjoy the many wonderful birds this area has attracted this winter. On February 24 this area held 6 COMMON EIDERS, 1 immature male KING EIDER, and nearby Ocean Drive has attracted ICELAND GULL, GLAUCOUS GULL, and 2 RED-NECKED GREBE.

Keep an eye out for loons; they're beginning to gather off the beachfront and at the mouth of the Delaware Bay. "Cruisin' For Loons" on Sunday, April 25 (9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.), is scheduled when numbers of RED-THROATED LOONS will be peaking and when COMMON LOONS in the back bays will be coming into full breeding plumage (call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register).

To sharpen your "Field Leadership Skills" consider attending this March 14 (1:00-4:00 p.m.) program with Mark Garland (call 609-861-0700). 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. 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

The Cape May Bird Observatory offers many, many other programs than those briefly mentioned here. CMBO's SPRING Program Schedule can be read in full at: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html and is available at either center (or request a copy be sent; call 609-861-0700).

CMBO's meadow was burnt today, February 26, for the 2nd year in a row to try and get ahead of non-native grasses. It will be fun to see just how quickly it greens up. Help CMBO on the following Saturdays: March 6, April 3 (9:00 a.m. to Noon) for our spring "Garden Preparation." Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to sign up (lunch provided).

Adult PURPLE MARTINS are beginning to pass into North Carolina. To learn more, go to the Purple Martin Conservation Organization's site at: http://www.purplemartin.org/scoutreport/2004/scout.html

If you are wondering how our Monarchs are doing in Mexico, go to Monarch Watch's very educational web site: http://www.monarchwatch.org/update and to Journey North's site at: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/spring2004/monarch/index.html

February 2-11, biologists from the NJ Endangered & Nongame Species Program were in Chile 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

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!

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