Cape May Natural History Hotline - 2/3/2005

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 3. 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 will be closed Saturday (February 5, when all staff will be at the Cumberland Co. Winter Raptor Festival), and Tuesday and Wednesday (February 8-9). CMBOs Northwood Center is open daily, 9-4:30.

Despite frozen waterways and temperatures and icy, snow-covered ground there were signs of spring this week: Red-winged Blackbirds were singing konk-a-ree and Morning Doves were cooing. Too, a GREAT CORMORANT flew along the Delaware River showing off its full white flank patch, only seen when theyre in full breeding plumage.

SCREECH OWLS are holed up in hollow trees or nest boxes right now trying to stay warm. Steve Eisenhauer of the Natural Lands Trust was cleaning out his boxes at the Fortescue Glades on January 28 and found one with a sleeping Screech Owl laying face down in the box along with an owl pellet and 3 dead, frozen mice next to it. Cached in a near-by box was a dead mouse and a dead leopard frog. E. BLUEBIRDS have been known to survive severe winter weather by all squeezing into one or several nest compartments and using each others body heat to stay warm through the night. On January 29, one was seen entering a Purple Martin house at Beaver Dam in Cumberland County, perhaps to do just that. AMERICAN WOODCOCK continue to be easily seen along road shoulders, the only place they can find ground soft enough to probe for earthworms. 15 were seen January 31 around the circle at Cape May Point, while 12 were seen January 30 along Sunset Boulevard. Backyard wildlife habitats, bird feeders, and bird baths with heaters are hopping with activity. With the frozen, snow covered ground birds have been unable to get to wild foods. One backyard north of the CMBO Center in Goshen has attracted dozens of feeding HERMIT THRUSH, 24 FOX SPARROWS, TREE and CHIPPING SPARROWS, 19 PINE SISKINS, and an AMERICAN WOODCOCK. A WINTER WREN is wintering at the Rea Farm (seen January 30). Join Mark Garland every Saturdays (2-4 p.m.), for his Winter at the Rea Farm walk (meets in the Rea Farm parking lot on Bayshore Road) to enjoy the sheltered field edges for songbirds and hunting hawks.

The severe winter weather continues to move birds around. Jakes Landing, quiet earlier this winter, now has a number of SHORT-EARED OWLS hunting the marshes, 5 on January 31 along with a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, many N. HARRIER, and a BALD EAGLE. 6 SHORT-EARS were there at dusk on February 2, along with a perched GREAT HORNED OWL with 2 others calling. Two excellent opportunities to enjoy raptors (owls, eagles, & hawks) and other birds include CMBOs (1) Sunday Morning at Turkey Point walk, held every Sundays (8-10 a.m.), meets at the end of Turkey Point Road in Cumberland County (reached from Rt. 553 south of the town of Dividing Creek), and (2) Nightfall at Jakes Landing, held every Sunday (4 p.m. to dusk), meets at the end of Jakes Landing Road, north of Dennisville.

On CMBOs Winter Raptors of the Delaware Bayshore trip on January 29, 21 BALD EAGLES were seen between CMBOs Center in Goshen and Sea Breeze in Cumberland County. One high-soaring adult dropped out of the sky to snag a foot long fish out of the Maurice River. This triggered a second adult and an immature to try and steal it. Cumberland Countys Winter Raptor Festival will be held this Saturday, February 5. CMBO staff and volunteers will be manning 4 raptor-rich outdoor sites during this festival. Call 856-453-2177 before Saturday to learn more or simply come on February 5th anytime after 8 a.m. to the Mauricetown Fire Hall in Mauricetown where exhibitors, local artists, lectures and presentations will be held, and where you can pick up the festival packet with maps and program schedules. The festival begins at 7 a.m. with a Sunrise Walk at Turkey Point with Pete Dunne and other leaders and ends with a 5 p.m. Sunset Owl Watch at Turkey Point with Pat Sutton and other leaders.

On January 29, a RIVER OTTER was watched for at least ten minutes as it walked around on the frozen surface of SLUICE CREEK, the creek next to the CMBO Center in Goshen. It strolled and sniffed, strolled and sniffed, staying in view the entire time. A COYOTE was seen January 28 on Lighthouse Avenue in Cape May Point. A RED FOX was seen January 28 at Higbee Beach as it lay in wait in vain under brambles to catch unwary songbirds.

Winter is the best time of year to study waterfowl. On February 1, the Cold Spring Inlet at Two Mile Beach held over a thousand scoter (1,000 Surf, 100s of Black, and 2 White-winged), 8 COMMON LOONS, 10 LONG-TAILED DUCKS, 50 PURPLE SANDPIPER, and 5 GREAT CORMORANT. January 28th to 30th, a RAZORBILL was also there. AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS winter here in pretty high numbers. On February 1, 95 were seen at Hereford Inlet and 20 in Townsends Inlet. If youd like to savor amorous waterfowl and these other winter treats, be sure to sign up for the Longtails in Love field trip with Pat Sutton on Saturday, February 12 (10 a.m.-4 p.m.). For the ultimate N. Gannet (and waterfowl) experience join Mark Garland on February 20 for Birding From the Ferry (7 to 11 a.m.), sort of a poor mans pelagic. If the impoundments thaw at the Corbin City and Tuckahoe WMAs, this is another excellent spot for waterfowl. Bald and Golden Eagles and Short-eared Owls have been regular there this winter. Learn these interesting areas by joining Pat Sutton & Karen Johnson for the Tuckahoe & Corbin City WMA Field Trip, Saturday, February 19 (2-6 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register for one or all of these upcoming trips! CMBOs Waterfowl Art Exhibit is on display at CMBO Center in Goshen. Stop by and be dazzled!

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 winter birds by attending upcoming CMBO programs:

Weekly walks (no advanced registration, $6 members, $10 for others): 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.), 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.

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.) WOODCOCK DANCE with Pat Sutton Saturday, March 5 (5-7 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

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 Program Schedule (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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