Cape May Natural History Hotline - 2/6/2004

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 Friday, February 6. 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.

GREAT HORNED OWLS have laid their eggs by now or will any day, they being the earliest nesting bird. In most cases they use last season's Red-tailed Hawk nest, or perhaps the nest of an Osprey or a Great Blue Heron. Once the female has laid her eggs, they become very quiet; don't make the mistake of thinking they've left. If you should find a nest, study it from a safe distance (ideally with a telescope) & not too often. The young won't be able to fly until late April or early May. A watchable nest is the only time of year that Great Horned Owls are easy to study.

Finally the snow has melted and iced in waterways are opening up. LONG-TAILED DUCKS were concentrated and very feisty this past week in Hereford Inlet, warming up for CMBO's "Longtails In Love" trip on Saturday, February 14 (10 a.m. to 4 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.) 25 COMMON EIDER, 3 KING EIDER, and a male HARLEQUIN DUCK on February 5 at Cold Spring Jetty is exciting news for CMBO's upcoming "Winter at Two Mile Beach" on Sunday, February 29 (1:00 to 4:00 p.m.) with Mark Garland, a trip that will explore the Cold Spring Jetty and other parts of the Cape May NWR's "Two Mile Beach Unit." While there are still openings, call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register for any of these trips.

SHORT-EARED OWLS tangle with ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS and NORTHERN HARRIER at Jakes Landing quite regularly this winter and elsewhere. 4 SHORT-EARED OWLS hunted there on January 31, all hovering quite high between 5:15 and 5:45 p.m. Join CMBO's "Nightfall at Jakes Landing walk" (4:30 p.m. to dusk) every Sunday evening at the end of Jakes Landing Road.

CMBO's "Winter Raptors of the Delaware Bayshore" discovered ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS on January 31 at Turkey Point (3), Maple Avenue (3), and Jakes Landing (2). An immature GOLDEN EAGLE hunted the marshes on Glade Road (the road between Rt. 47 and East Point) for a half hour.

Our resident adult BALD EAGLES can be found near their nests this time of year, they being the second earliest nesting bird. Of the 45 pairs in NJ, the first pair began incubating eggs on February 5 at a nest in Greenwich. Others will follow over the next month or so. Many pairs are busy adding sticks to their nests and can often be found perched nearby. 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. CMBO is again offering "Bald Eagle Cruises on the Maurice River" this spring; 8 trips (March 20 through April 4). There is still room on all trips, but some are beginning to fill. The next "Birding Cumberland" field trip with Clay and Pat Sutton will cover the Cohansey River 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 while openings last!

The "Sunday Mornings at Turkey Point walk" (8:00-10:00 a.m.) requires no preregistration and meets at the end of Turkey Point Road in Cumberland County every Sunday between now and April 4. ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, BALD EAGLE, COMMON GOLDENEYE, BUFFLEHEAD, HOODED MERGANSER, sparrows in protected sunny edges, AMERICAN WOODCOCK, and FOX have all been enjoyed.

AMERICAN WOODCOCK became very concentrated during the nasty stretch of bitter cold and freezing temperatures. One survived by feeding in thawed ground over an ancient septic system, others probed for earthworms were leaf litter accumulated in sunny side yards and along the road shoulder of Jakes Landing Road. One observer counted 50 on January 31 along Bayshore Road. VIRGINIA RAILS were still being seen this week along trails at the Cape May Point State Park. A good old-fashioned nature walk with Mark Garland, "The Wonders of Winter," on Sunday, February 8 (8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) still has room. Learn how creatures adapt and survive winter's freezes! As early as March, male American Woodcock will be displaying to potential mates. Join Pat Sutton to witness and learn all about this nuptial flight during the "Woodcock Dance" field trip on Saturday, March 6 (5:00 to 7:00 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register. Also consider signing up to help with an American Woodcock breeding survey on the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge (45 minute surveys will be conducted after sunset between April 10-30), by calling Heidi Hanlon, the refuge's wildlife biologist, at (609) 463-0994.

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. Mark your calendars to accompany Mark Garland to see the spring's first native wildflower in bloom during the "Skunk Cabbage Celebration" on Sunday, February 22 (9:00 a.m. to Noon). Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register for either.

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.

Enjoy winter birding by joining CMBO for the following walks that require no preregistration! EVERY SATURDAY, " Birding Cape May Point," 8:00-10:00 a.m.; EVERY SUNDAY, "Nightfall at Jakes Landing," 4:30 p.m. to dusk; EVERY SUNDAY, "Sunday Mornings at Turkey Point," 8:00-10:00 a.m.

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. There are many additional special programs being offered this winter. Check CMBO's WINTER Program Schedule. To receive a copy, stop at either of the two centers, or call the office during business hours at 609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's web site where a full listing of CMBO's WINTER 2003 PROGRAMS (November, December, January, February, and a few of the March programs) is posted 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 email containing registration confirmation and driving directions to the appropriate seminar will be sent back to you. Those without email 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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