Cape May Natural History Hotline - 2/9/2006

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 Thursday, February 9. 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).

There have been no SNOWY OWL reports since the Cape May bird was last seen on February 2 on the Beach at Cape May early in the day and flying over Sunset Boulevard at 5:40 pm. The Cape May / Stone Harbor / Wildwood Crest Snowy Owl was definitely an immature male. A super shot shared by Paul Leverington and displayed at CMBOs Center in Goshen shows the bird in flight, clearly showing the top of the tail with only two rows of bars across the tip of the tail. The SNOWY OWL seen (and photographed by Paul Leverington) at Brigantine NWR was much darker definitely an immature female. This female may have been here all winter too and may have been the bird called in to CMBO from Ocean City on December 8 and 13, as well as the Atlantic City bird called in on January 23 since neither time were plumage details obtained or shared. Fun food for thought!

GREAT HORNED OWLS, our earliest nesting bird, are on their nests now. On February 3, many were hooting along Hansey Creek Road in Cumberland County at dusk. 1 was being dived bombed by 5 N. HARRIER. If you have been hearing Great Horned Owls from your home or favorite haunt at dusk up to now and theyve suddenly become silent, you can bet your bippy that theyre on eggs. 4 SHORT-EARED OWLS were hunting the marshes at dusk at Hansey Creek Road on February 3.

Several of CMBOs weekly winter walks (requiring no preregistration) visit owly and eagly spots at owly and eagly times. Every Sunday (8-10 a.m.), Sunday Morning at Turkey Point meets at the end of Turkey Point Road. Every other Sunday (Feb 19, March 5, 19), Nightfall at Jakes Landing meets at the end of Jakes Landing Road at 4:30 p.m. Every other Sunday (Feb. 12, 26, March 12, 26), Nightfall at Corbin City Impoundments meets on Griscom Mill Rd. (off Rt. 50) in the Corbin City Hall parking lot at 4:30 p.m. Every Saturday (8-10 a.m.) Birding Cape May Point meets at the Cape May Point State Park on the raised Picnic Pavilion. Beginning February 17, every Friday (4:30-dusk), Winter Evenings at The Meadows meets in TNCs parking lot on Sunset Boulevard. For details on each walk as well as CMBOs many preregistration programs go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

NJs BALD EAGLES are beginning to nest! As of February 6th, 6 pairs were incubating eggs (the earliest pair laid eggs on January 31)! The pair at Beaver Swamp WMA, just up Sluice Creek from CMBOs Center in Goshen, could be incubating as well. Today, February 9, one adult was low in the nest for 45 minutes. Confirmation will come when someone witnesses a nest exchange one adult spelling the other. If anyone should witness this, let me know (since Im the volunteer nest observer for this nest). On February 4, two adults were seen copulating at Newport Landing in Cumberland County during the Winter Eagle Festival, a huge success despite the morning rain. And on February 5, two adults were observed breaking sticks/branches off of trees while in flight and carrying them back to a news nest since their old nest blew on January 15.

Final results are in from the 2006 NJ Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey, held on January 14-15. A total of 194 Bald Eagles were tallied by volunteer observers, including 154 (95 adults & 59 immatures) in southern NJ and 40 (15 adults and 22 immatures) in northern NJ.

RED-TAILED HAWKS are in love. On February 9, from Beaver Swamp WMA three pairs were cavorting around in the sky, each over their own patch. Their aerial displays were a delight in the gusts of 20 mph winds. On February 4, a pair was watched carrying sticks to a nest at Turkey Point during the Sunday morning CMBO walk there.

Days of northwest winds are triggering immature BALD EAGLES to move migrate. The first four years of an eagles life is spent wandering willy nilly, north, south, west, wherever they please. They do not return to where they were born until their 4th or 5th year when they are maturing into adults with the white head and tail. A 1st year bird (with a dark belly) was soaring over Goshen on February 8 at 2 p.m. Another was over Hidden Valley on February 7 at 2:30 p.m. A 2nd year bird came across the Delaware Bay on February 6. A 1st year bird came across the Delaware Bay on February 5.

70 BONAPARTES GULLS were resting on the waters behind the Concrete Ship (out of the wind) on February 7. This delicate gull is more like a tern than a gull and only here in winter. Another beachfront to enjoy this time of year is the oceanfront at CMBOs Avalon Seawatch, 8th Street and the beach at the north end of Avalon. The Seawatch ended December 22, but this spot is still very birdy. On February 5 it held 4 COMMON EIDER and a female KING EIDER. On February 2 it held 5 COMMON EIDER, 2 HORNED GREBE, a female HARLEQUIN DUCK, lots of LONG- TAILED DUCKS, RED-THROATED LOONS, and further south on the beach at 58th Street a mess of RED KNOT were enjoyed.

In Cumberland County, BOAT-TAILED GRACKLES were singing their spring song on January 28 at Money Island, while RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS were singing their konk-a-ree calls along the road to Sea Breeze.

Avian conjunctivitis has come to Cape May Court House. On February 8, one resident observed both House Finches and AMERICAN GOLDFINCH with it. The Cornell Lab of Ornithologys website (http://www.cornell.edu) shares precautions to take so that it does not spread further.

During the warm evening of February 3, many AMERICAN WOODCOCK were displaying in Cumberland County over the fields along Hansey Creek Road. The males peenting could be heard followed by their aerial courtship flight. If youve never witnessed this incredible display, join Pat Sutton at CMBOs Woodcock Dance, March 4 (5-7 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11, for more information or to register.

On January 30th the temperature rose to balmy 65 degrees and wildlife responded. Many birds gave their spring song, three different species of turtles were sunning on a log in Daveys Lake at Higbee Beach: RED- BELLIED, RED-EARED SLIDER, and 2 E. PAINTED TURTLES. SPRING PEEPERS were peeping. And not one, but three different butterflies were seen: RED ADMIRAL, an anglewing (either QUESTION MARK or E. COMMA), and MOURNING CLOAK. Not bad for a January day. On February 4, a WOODPECKER was drumming in Goshen. Today, February 9, the temperatures were not spring-like, but a brrrrrr cold 36 degrees with cold northwest winds blowing and making it feel more like 26 degrees. So, no turtles, frogs, or butterflies today or for a while until it warms up.

The fields and trails were cut at Hidden Valley and at Higbee Beach either in late December or early January. Hip Hip Hurrah! No more getting torn up by Multiflora Rose, and maybe BLUEBIRDS and BOBOLINKS will be back in these fields this spring.

As part of CMBOs 2006 Cape May Birding Workshops Michael OBrien 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 OBrien 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.

Some AMERICAN HOLLY are still almost red with uneaten berries, despite enormous numbers of wintering American Robins. Some of this may be due to the mild winter and earth worms being available for them.

See Life Paulagics will be running 2 trips in the near future: (1) an inshore 8-hour boat trip Sunday, Feb. 12 departing at 8:00 a.m. from Belmar on the Suzie Girl. The trip plan is to work the coast up to Sandy Hook. A trip in December following the same route produced Razorbills, an Iceland Gull, a Glaucous x Herring hybrid, all 3 scoters, and other winter waterfowl. Last year this trip found Razorbills, an unprecedented 4 Thick-billed Murres, Iceland Gull, and Black-headed Gull. (2) 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. This trip 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

CMBOs 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 Winter Kestrel Express (December through February) 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!

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 AT njaudubon.org

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