CMBO is pleased to provide weekly summaries of the Cape's birding highlights. Coverage is limited to bird sightings in Cape May County. Readers should keep in mind that some reports may not be confirmed. The vast majority of information utilized in these reports comes from eBird data and "Keekeekerr" text alerts. Observers are also encouraged to send reports and photos to compiler Tom Reed (coturnicops at gmail dot com).
Location Abbreviations/Explanations: CMP (town of Cape May Point); CMPSP (Cape May Pt. State Park); Cold Spring Inlet (entrance to Cape May Harbor, accessed from Two Mile Beach); SHPt (Stone Harbor Point).
WATERFOWL THROUGH HERONS
Cold weather continued to adversely affect freshwater duck numbers, with significant ice cover remaining on most fresh and brackish water. An unbanded and free-flying female Ruddy Shelduck that appeared at Erma 15 Jan (SWh) continued to be seen between Erma and Villas through at least 28 Jan (m. ob.). Though most North American records presumably refer to individuals that have escaped from captivity, it is worth fully documenting the species’ occurrences here, as it is also a candidate for natural vagrancy. A Cackling Goose was again reported on the pond at Champlain Drive, Villas 27 Jan (TB). Other noteworthy waterfowl included a female King Eider at Avalon’s 8th Street jetty 29 Jan (WK) and the continuing Harlequin Duck duo at Cold Spring Inlet through at least 25 Jan (m. ob.). The week’s only American Bittern was a single at Jake’s Landing 24 Jan (TR et al.). A hardy Tricolored Heron continued to play hide-and-seek in the marshes along Ocean Drive, between Cape May and Wildwood Crest, through at least 27 Jan (m. ob.).
RAPTORS THROUGH TERN
There were no reports of the lingering Osprey this week. Rough-legged Hawk has been in short supply; therefore 1 at Jake’s Landing 25 Jan (CV, DV) was notable. Beachfront Red Knots remained in the Wildwoods through the period (m. ob.) and a ‘Western’ Willet-- a first for 2015, was noted in the vicinity of Cold Spring Inlet 28 Jan (MP). Alcid reports were reduced, though that may be reflective of observer effort in recent days. A Dovekie was seen from Sunset Beach, on the heels of a strong coastal storm, 27 Jan (TJ). An adult Black-legged Kittiwake provided scope views from Avalon’s 8th Street jetty 28 Jan (TB). The year’s first Little Gull, an adult, was observed during a ferry crossing 26 Jan (DD, SD). At least 2 adult Black-headed Gulls remained along the lower Delaware Bay, with regular reports from the Ferry Terminal and at Sunset Beach through 30 Jan (m. ob.). Forster’s Terns hung on through at least the middle of the week, with near-daily sightings from Sunset Beach until 27 Jan (m. ob.).
COLLARED-DOVE THROUGH REDPOLL
A long-staying Eurasian Collared-Dove was most recently encountered at CMP 25 Jan (CBs). There were apparently no Snowy Owl reports this week, but at least 3 Short-eared Owls once again entertained dozens of observers at Jake’s Landing through the period. Predictably, the Tree Swallow flock at CMP dwindled through the recent stormy and progressively colder weather-- only a single individual was reported by 30 Jan (m. ob.). Additional lingerers included a Yellow-breasted Chat at CMPSP 28 Jan (WC) and 2 Orange-crowned Warblers at CMPSP 30 Jan (KH). Noteworthy on the barrier islands, an American Tree Sparrow was reported at SHPt 24 Jan (CBr, WC). Pierce’s Point was home to 229 Boat-tailed Grackles, a strong midwinter total, 29 Jan (SG). Common Redpolls were not as conspicuous this week but there were still several sightings, the most recent including 10 at SHPt 30 Jan (TB) and 1 at Villas the same day (SR).
Tom Baxter (TB), Claudia Burns (CBr), Catherine Busch (CBs), Warren Cairo (WC), David Disher (DD), Susan Disher (SD), Sam Galick (SG), Kathy Horn (KH), Tom Johnson (TJ), Will Kerling (WK), Mike Pasquarello (MP), Tom Reed (TR), Steven Rodan (SR), Colette Visser (CV), Derk Visser (DV), Scott Whittle (SWh).
eBird. 2012. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application]. eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Available: http://www.ebird.org. (Accessed: 30 January 2015)
Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Available: http://keekeekerr.com/textalerts/keekeekerr. (Accessed: 30 January 2015)