Monday, September 1, 2014

The 2014 season at the point has begun

As the sun rose over Cape May Point today, it shone on a new set of faces at the Hawkwatch Platform; daybreak saw Mary Raikes take the stand, and so began the 2014 Cape May Hawkwatch. Many other familiar faces were present today - friends old and new, here to see in the start of another season, and to begin the sortie into the wonderful unknown of a Cape May migration. We welcome you all to come and say 'Hi' to this year's seasonal interpretive naturalists too - Margeaux and Jordan join a returning Emily on the platform, while Lindsey and Angela will be working on the Monarch Monitoring Project. All the team are here, the season has started - the fun has begun!

And it was certainly a great day to be at the Hawkwatch today; hot southerly winds and high humidity were not typically indicative of a good day for birding at this time of year, but a nice scattering of warblers and other songbirds around the point first thing ensured there was plenty to see to start the day. The American Golden Plover that has been zipping around the point for the past couple of days, finally settled for much of the morning on Bunker Pond, giving us at least something to look at there, but attentions were mostly drawn to a light trickle of other shorebirds as small flocks came westward past the Hawkwatch. Few migrant raptors showed up to really underline the first day of the count, but Northern Harrier and Peregrine Falcon totals got off to a start, and casual sightings of adult and juvenile Bald Eagles at least gave visitors some thrilling moments.

Temperatures in the high eighties continued through the day and, as threatening storm clouds accended to magnificent heights to the west, Tom Reed pulled the star bird out of the bag when a juvenile Long-tailed Jaeger cruised casually right across the pond and past the platform. Such species often migrate high overland, cutting down from the Arctic via the Great Lakes then heading cross-country to hit the east coast by following a river valley down stream. Such high-flying birds could easily be dropped down by the sudden appearance of adverse weather and it is perhaps no coincidence that a heavy shower of rain past through not long after the jaeger had disappeared behind the lighthouse.

A walk of the Cape May Point beaches revealed an excellent number of roosting gulls and terns on the rapidly emptying beaches now; time spent here could certainly pay dividends for anyone looking for something unusual in the gull or tern line. As if all this activity were not enough, Jesse Amesbury rounded the day off nicely by finding a Clay-colored Sparrow feeding along the dune ridge beside the plover ponds, then a small gathering paid homage to The Meadows and enjoyed great views of a feeding Sora and a singing Marsh Wren. My day began with the first Yellow-bellied Flycatcher for our yard list and finished with parties of Bobolinks spiralling up out of the marshes and a swirling mass of some 200 Eastern Kingbirds hawking insects against a setting sun.

It has been quite a day around the point, with certainly something for everyone. There's plenty more to come, and we'll be out there enjoying it - come and join us!

Welcome the 2014 team: back row - Tom Reed (swing counter), Jordan Rogan (Interpretive Naturalist), Lindsey (Monarch Monitoring Project), Angela Demarse (Monarch Monitoring Project), Glen Davis (Morning Flight counter). Front row - Emily Wilmoth (George Myers Naturalist), Margeaux Maerz (Interpretive Naturalist), Mary Raikes (Hawkwatch counter).

A great way to start the day - American Golden Plover at The Meadows. This adult bird shows a typically patchy appearance at this time of year, as the black belly feathers of breeding plumage are replaced by the paler feathers of non-breeding plumage [photo by Mike Crewe].

In contrast to the adult plover above, this juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs at the plover ponds looks very dapper in its neat, spangled plumage [photo by Mike Crewe].
 

Shock bird of the day - this juvenile Long-tailed Jaeger took a few spins around the state park today before heading off behind the Cape May lighthouse. Note the relatively small, bi-colored bill, the clearly defined pale spotting on the upperparts and the relatively small amount of white on the upper wing, confined to just the outer two to three primary shafts [photos by Tom Reed].

The Meadows will be coming into their own as a great location to look for Soras over the coming weeks. This adult bird with its gray neck and black face mask has been hanging out there for the past few days and showed very well this evening [photo by Mike Crewe].

Spectacular storm clouds arfe stained orange by the setting sun over Delaware Bay - unsettled weather could provide us with some very interesting birding over the coming days [photo by Mike Crewe].

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Week in review: 23 – 29 August, 2014

CMBO is pleased to provide weekly summaries of the Cape's birding highlights. Coverage is limited to 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 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); HB (Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area); Higbee Dike (dredge spoils at northwest corner of Cape Island, site of CMBO's Morning Flight count); SCMM (South Cape May Meadows); SHPt (Stone Harbor Point).


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WATERFOWL THROUGH RAPTORS
       The season's first Northern Shoveler arrived at SCMM 23 Aug (m. ob.), with 4 birds there by 28 Aug (m. ob.). A strong total of 36 Wild Turkeys was notched along New England Road near HB 29 Aug (Jacob Cuomo). A southbound Common Loon was seen from Avalon during strong easterly winds 24 Aug (MG, DLP, TR). A boat trip to the Gull Island area found ca. 2,500 Double-crested Cormorants, 375 Great Egrets, 800 Snowy Egrets, 15 Little Blue Herons, 30 Tricolored Herons, and 25 Black-crowned Night-Herons 24 Aug (m. ob.). An evening survey of the same area produced 302 Great Egrets, 891 Snowy Egrets, 27 Little Blue Herons, and 38 Tricolored Herons 27 Aug (TJ, SWi, TR). Raptor migration was again on the light side this week, though a few Ospreys and at least 2 Bald Eagles were southbound over the Higbee Dike 29 Aug (TR et al.), and there were multiple reports of single Broad-winged Hawks (m. ob.). 


SORA THROUGH NIGHTHAWK
       The season's first Sora was noted at SCMM 26 Aug (m. ob.), and the season's first Buff-breasted Sandpiper was noted at SHPt the same day (TR). At least 85 American Oystercatchers occupied Hereford Inlet this week (m. ob.). Other notable shorebirds included 7 Piping Plovers at SHPt 25 Aug (m. ob.), and Long-billed Dowitcher at SCMM 24 Aug (LZ, MO'B) and Nummy Island 27 Aug (MO'B). Caspian Terns were easy to find at Hereford Inlet and around the Stone Harbor area-- 55 were roosting at Gull Island 24 Aug (VE, m. ob.). Gull-billed Tern will soon be gone; 1 was reported at SHPt 26 Aug (TB). Conversely, Royal Tern numbers continued to increase; e.g. 700+ were found at Hereford Inlet 26 Aug (TB). The first southbound Barn Owls were heard over North Cape May (SWh) and CMP (GD) 25 Aug. Peak movements of Common Nighthawk are fast approaching; the period's high count of 13 was notched at West Cape May on 28 Aug (MO'B). 

HUMMINGBIRD THROUGH SONGBIRDS
       Small numbers of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds migrated past the Higbee Dike daily (GD, TR et al.). Late-August is probably the best time to locate Olive-sided Flycatcher locally-- singles were found at Cox Hall Creek WMA 24 Aug (SP) & 27 Aug (MP), and at Reed's Beach 26 Aug (TR). Solid numbers of Eastern Kingbirds continued to be found at HB, headlined by a recent high count of ca. 450 on 24 Aug (m. ob.). An excellent songbird flight over the Higbee Dike entailed 54 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, 52 Northern Waterthrushes, 38 Black-and-white Warblers, 561 American Redstarts, and 130 Baltimore Orioles 29 Aug (TR). That same flight also included a Black-throated Gray Warbler-- Cape May County's 10th, and the 3rd seen from the Higbee Dike (TR et al.). Other notable songbirds included a Cerulean Warbler at HB 24 Aug (LW),  Mourning Warbler at HB 25 Aug (LW), and Dickcissel at the Higbee Dike 24 & 27 Aug (GD). 


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Contributors:
Tom Baxter (TB), Jacob Cuomo (JC), Glen Davis (GD), Vince Elia (VE), Matt Garvey (MG), Tom Johnson (TJ), David La Puma (DLP), Michael O'Brien (MO'B), Mike Pasquarello (MP), Samuel Perloff (SP), Tom Reed (TR), Scott Whittle (SWh), Sam Wilson (SWi), Linda Widdop (LW), Louise Zemaitis (LZ). 

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References:

*eBird. 2012. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application]. eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Accessed 30 Aug 2014. Available: http://www.ebird.org
*Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Accessed 30 Aug 2014. Available: http://keekeekerr.com/textalerts/keekeekerr

Friday, August 29, 2014

Something for everyone - with more to come

Migration through Cape May got a much-needed injection of new blood this morning, as Higbee Beach saw a pretty good morning flight - which included well over 100 Baltimore Orioles - and many locations around the point buzzed with bird activity. The rapidly disappearing specks that entertain folks at Higbee Dike may not be everyone's idea of prime birding, but it's certainly worth visiting the site on a good passage day, just for the experience of the whole adrenalin-charged show. The rush of birds was felt in the Higbee fields this morning too, and especially noticeable was the influx of Baltimore Orioles, as well as an increase in the range of warbler species flitting along the field edges.

The Northwood Center is starting to attract a trickle of migrants now, with Canada and Magnolia Warblers among the expected Black-and-white Warblers and American Redstart, and a Least Flycatcher was active in the elms.

Elsewhere, beaches continue to attract larger numbers of loafing gulls and terns - and more will come once disturbance tails off after this coming Labor Day weekend and tired migrants will be able to find a few quiet corners to gather up their strength for the next leg of the journey. Shorebirds moving through the backbays ensure that there is always plenty to see in the afternoons and, for those who want a really full day of birding, The Meadows provide excellent sunset fare, with this evening producing Sora, American Bittern and several Green Herons - the last two species spiralling up against a rosy sky and heading out over the bay.

Here's a quick picture journey through a day at Cape May in late August...

Right now, your day would do well to start at Higbee Dike, where the golden wash of dawn might highlight the wings of one of our local Bald Eagles...


As the sun slowly warms the day, Bobolinks start to head over the tree tops...

Then the warblers to start to pass by - here a male Cape May Warbler heads north to find suitable cover to spend the day.

Meanwhile, swallows gather on South Cape May Beach to warm up before continuing their journey - Tree, Barn and Bank Swallows all share the dune fence...

Back at the Higbee Beach fields, warblers seek insects along the woodland edge - Chestnut-sided Warblers peak from the Virginia Creeper....

....and Black-and-white Warblers creep along thicker branches like humbug nuthatches.

Then of course there are the surprises - today's highlights included a movement of Common Nighthawks, several of which could be found sitting on branches at Higbee Beach and, well, not doing too good of a job in trying to look like a dead branch!

Shorebirds will continue to pass through in good numbers for several weeks yet, like these cinnamon-tinted juvenile Short-billed Dowitchers at The Meadows...

...and, for those with eyes on things in addition to birds, migratory dragonflies will be reaching a peak in the next few weeks - a steady passage of northbound individuals was taking place at Sunset Beach today, with Carolina and Black Saddlebags, Swamp and Green Darners, Twelve-spotted Skimmers and Wandering Gliders (above) all involved. Photos by Mike Crewe

It's time to head to Cape May again!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

waterbirds, shorebirds and birds to come...

After a week of very stressful north-easterlies, the weather looks set to provide us with a new suite of birds over the coming 48 hours - which should alleviate tension in the birding community at Cape May!! Despite a lack of the much hoped-for north-westerlies, there's been plenty of great birding around Cape May to keep all but the most jaded of birdwatcher happy. Wild Turkeys continue to set new all time high counts south of the canal, pre-migration heron roosts give ample opportunity to enjoy the spectacle of mass gatherings of birds, and shorebirds continue to add variety to many of our weekly walks. Tom Reed has been reporting in his weekly round-ups in this blog on the spectacular heron roost that has been readily watchable from Stone Harbor Boulevard over the past few weeks. Numbers are starting to fall away a little now as the smaller herons (Little Blues and Tricoloreds) began their southward migrations, but there's still plenty of Great and Snowy Egrets and Double-crested Cormorants to make a sunset visit worthwhile. You can view the birds coming in to roost by watching northward from the Scotch Bonnet bridge, half way along Stone Harbor Boulevard (Rt 657).

The warbler flight has yet to really pick up, but American Redstarts and Northern Waterthrushes are showing good intent and several Cape May Warblers put in an appearance this morning. Numbers should continue to increase over the coming few weeks...

Wild Turkeys continue to establish themselves firmly south of the Cape May canal. This female with two youngsters strolled casually down the road outside the Northwood Center recently, pausing to feed on Autumn-olive berries. Yes, everything is a bitter-sweet pill these days; while having turkeys around will mean fewer ticks, it will also mean that all those hideous invasive plants will be spread around more efficiently... [photo by Mike Crewe].

Last Friday saw the third, annual Pledge 2 Fledge event at Cape May Point State Park. CMBO were there, manning a membership table and running a 'Little Sit' on the Hawkwatch Platform. This latter event notched up 63 species from 3:00-6:00PM and visitors enjoyed some great birding, including this Caspian Tern that took a few spins around Bunker Pond before heading off in search of a meal at The Meadows [photo by Mike Crewe].

Also on our Pledge 2 Fledge 'Little Sit', a party of Blue-winged Teal (lower right bird) flashed around in front of us. Among their number was a Green-winged Teal (upper left bird), giving a great opportunity to compare the distinctive and very different underwing patterns of these two species [photo by Mike Crewe].

Shorebirds have moved into 'phase 2' of their migration through Cape May recently; that is to say, the predominance of adults in most species is now being replaced by dapper juvenile birds. One exception is White-rumped Sandpiper, which is a species that tends to peak in number a little later than other shorebirds here. This bird is a molting adult and, as can be seen here, adult White-rumps in fall are not really the most inspiring of shorebirds! [Photo by Mike Crewe]

Large gatherings of birds are always spectacular and evening roost gatherings of waterbirds certainly impress. Much thanks is extended to Bob Lubberman of The Osprey for taking a bunch of us out to get more accurate counts of numbers of birds coming in to roost near Stone Harbor recently [photo by Mike Crewe].

One of these birds is not like the other ones... Getting up close to flight lines of herons and egrets going to roost allows for a better analysis of the species make-up of the flocks. Look carefully at the bird on the left and you should see black tips to the flight feathers. This bird is a juvenile Little Blue Heron and odd singles like this are easily missed among the large numbers of Snowy Egrets heading into roosts right now [photo by Mike Crewe].

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Week in review: 16 – 22 August, 2014

CMBO is pleased to provide weekly summaries of the Cape's birding highlights. Coverage is limited to 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 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); HB (Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area); Higbee Dike (dredge spoils at northwest corner of Cape Island, site of CMBO's Morning Flight count); SCMM (South Cape May Meadows); SHPt (Stone Harbor Point).


 --===============--


WATERFOWL THROUGH RAPTORS
       The infestation of Mute Swans at CMPSP continued; a count of 40 was obtained at Bunker Pond 22 Aug (MiC, TR). The oft-mentioned, summering pack of Black Scoters remained at CMP along with at least 3 Surf Scoters (m. ob.). Unusual for the date was a female Hooded Merganser reported at Dias Creek 18 Aug (TB). A female Wild Turkey and 2 young birds continued at CMP through 21 Aug (MiC). The species was also reported along New England Road (m. ob.). Strong southeast winds were likely associated with the Cory's Shearwater seen from SHPt 21 Aug (TR). After a typical midsummer absence, Northern Gannets re-appeared in recent days, with sightings of immatures from the Higbee Dike 21 Aug (GD, TR) and SHPt 22 Aug (MG). Less expected was an adult reported from Ocean City 16 Aug (JI). Small flocks of southbound Double-crested Cormorants were reported over Cape Island with increasing frequency through the week (m. ob.). Large numbers of wading birds were noted on multiple evenings as they entered the Gull Island colony/roost near Stone Harbor. Counts conducted from Stone Harbor Boulevard produced 92 Tricolored Herons and 27 Little Blue Herons on 19 Aug (TR et al.); 597 Great Egrets, 1081 Snowy Egrets, 39 Little Blue Herons, 86 Tricolored Herons, and 252 Glossy Ibises were recorded 20 Aug (TR, MiC, GD). Southbound Great Blue Herons are often noted during evenings with northeast winds; such was the case when 21 were flying over Stone Harbor Boulevard around sunset 19 Aug (MeC, TR). Raptor migration was unremarkable throughout the week, but 4 Broad-winged Hawks were seen over the Rea Farm/Beanery 18 Aug (TJ, MR) and a few southbound Osprey were noted most days at CMP (m. ob.). 

[Tricolored Heron near Stone Harbor Boulevard, 18 Aug. Photo by Tom Reed.]


SHOREBIRDS THROUGH SKIMMER
       There were no noteworthy shorebird flights during the past week; a single American Golden-Plover flew over SCMM 21 Aug (TR). Water levels remained high at most sites around Cape Island, putting a dent in shorebird reports, but the Stone Harbor area enjoyed a productive week. Nummy Island held 36 'Western' Willets 22 Aug (MG), and nearby SHPt was home to 92 American Oystercatchers, 1200 Semipalmated Plovers, 130 Western Sandpipers, and 7 Piping Plovers 21 Aug (TR). The marshes and salt pannes surrounding the Wetlands Institute hosted 7 Whimbrel, 215 Red Knots, and 2 Marbled Godwits during the afternoon high tide 18 Aug (TR). Another Marbled Godwit was photographed at Jarvis Sound 20 Aug (BL et al.). Last week's American Avocet remained in the area, seen at both Jarvis Sound and SCMM through at least 20 Aug (m. ob.). A Parasitic Jaeger was attracted to a feeding flock of terns and gulls near SHPt 21 Aug (TR). Intriguing was an apparent juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull at Sunset Beach 22 Aug (MiC); several other individuals of various ages remained on Cape Island beaches and at SHPt through the period (m. ob.). Ring-billed Gulls continued to filter in from points north and west-- weekly highs included 12 at SHPt 19 Aug (JI) and 10 at SCMM 21 Aug (LZ). Black Tern should be nearing peak southbound densities. The year's maximum to date, 14 migrated south past SHPt 21 Aug (TR). An additional 6 were reported at Sunset Beach 22 Aug (TB), and occasional singletons were found at various sites between SCMM, CMP, and the Higbee Dike (m. ob.). A trio of Gull-billed Terns entertained observers at SCMM 22 Aug (CH, DH), and at least 2 were seen from Stone Harbor Boulevard at Scotch Bonnet 20 Aug (TR et al.). Rare by late-Aug, a Roseate Tern tagged along with a flock of Common Terns offshore SHPt 21 Aug (TR). Royal Tern numbers increased once again, as more individuals arrived from the south. A few hundred were noted flying past Poverty Beach on at least one recent evening (CS), and 250+ were roosting at Hereford Inlet 21 Aug (TR). Beach-nesting birds endured a tough season locally, therefore a report of recently fledged Black Skimmers at Poverty Beach was especially heartening. Approximately 175 skimmers have been noted at the site in recent days (fide NJDFW). 

[Eurasian Collared-Doves flying over CMPSP, 22 Aug. Photo by Tom Reed.]


COLLARED-DOVE THROUGH BOBOLINK
       Notable were the 2 Eurasian Collared-Doves that flew over CMPSP 22 Aug (TR, MiC). This is the first time more than 1 individual had been reported at Cape Island since early-Feb. A Common Nighthawk was hunting over Dias Creek at dusk 17 Aug (TR). A nice early-morning movement of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds 17 Aug included 33 that buzzed past the Higbee Dike (GD). Passerine migration was limited, save for a small influx that arrived on light northwest winds 18 Aug. Fair numbers of Eastern Kingbirds could be found at HB through the period, with 300–400 individuals present most days (m. ob.). The week's warbler highlight was a Golden-winged at HB 16 Aug (JA). Now is a great time to look for Mourning Warbler-- singles were noted at the Rea Farm/Beanery 16 Aug (RH), HB 18 Aug (MeC, MiC), and near Goshen 22 Aug (DW, JN). Solo Prothonotary Warblers were recorded at the Higbee Dike on 16, 17, 18, and 22 Aug (GD, TR), and Louisiana Waterthrush was noted there 17 and 18 Aug (GD). The season's first Dickcissel made its presence known over the Higbee Dike 17 Aug (GD), before the season's second Lark Sparrow put in a brief appearance at SCMM 20 Aug (SR). Bobolinks have become more apparent at many sites, and the period's high count consisted of 193 at the Higbee Dike 18 Aug (GD). 



[Baltimore Oriole was a regular sight at HB throughout the week. This individual was one of 28 that migrated past the Higbee Dike on 18 Aug. Photo by Tom Reed.]

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Contributors:
Jesse Amesbury (JA), Tom Baxter (TB), Megan Crewe (MeC), Mike Crewe (MiC), Glen Davis (GD), Matt Garvey (MG), Roger Horn (RH), Corey Husic (CH), Diane Husic (DH), Jon Isacoff (JI), Tom Johnson (TJ), Bob Lubberman (BL), Josh Nemeth (JN), NJDFW (New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife staff), Tom Reed (TR), Melissa Roach (MR), Steven Rodan (SR), Clay Sutton (CS), Dustin Welch (DW), Louise Zemaitis (LZ). 

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References:

*eBird. 2012. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application]. eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Accessed 23 Aug 2014. Available: http://www.ebird.org
*Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Accessed 23 Aug 2014. Available: http://keekeekerr.com/textalerts/keekeekerr

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Easterly winds - an opportunity for some alternative birding

The forecast doesn't look great for scholars of East Coast bird migration right now, with a predominance of light and variable winds mostly showing an easterly element. However, though Cape May birding is largely about migration at this time of year, it isn't entirely so. This has been borne out over the past few evenings with a number of us taking time out from migration studies to go and count some pretty impressive gatherings of herons and egrets out in the back bays. Tom Reed has been leading efforts to count numbers of birds at a particularly large roost north of Stone Harbor and doubtless he will reveal some of the results in his weekly round-up in a couple of days time.

So, if you are in town and missing out on migrants, what can you be looking for? Well, there's plenty of opportunity to take a boat trip and get closer to waterbirds; Clapper Rails continue to show consistently and well, and an American Avocet was reported yesterday out in the creeks. Ospreys with young feature strongly and I hear that a pair of Bald Eagles are feeding a fledged youngster and delighting a number of our boat trip groups.

Mid-August is also a classic time to take a walk with us at Higbee Beach, for now is the time that Eastern Kingbirds collect there in large, pre-migratory staging flocks - so far, some 300 or so birds seem to be present and feeding well on Black Cherries, which have had a good fruiting year this year.

There's also a great opportunity to help your favorite hobby by giving something back; this Friday sees the third Cape May Pledge 2 Fledge event taking place at Cape May Point State Park from 3-6PM. The aim of this program is for all birdwatchers to make an effort to convert a new birdwatcher - we all pledge to fledge a new member to our ranks. In this way, we hope not only to spread the word on the wonders of birdwatching, but also to instill a greater understanding of the needs of our beleaguered environment into the wider population, in the hope that we can all work together towards doing what's best for wildlife and - inevitably - for us. Cape May Bird Observatory and the Nature Center of Cape May will both be represented, so come on down and see us - either at our stall near the park entrance, or at the hawkwatch platform, where you can help us to see how many birds we
can locate during the course of the event.

Oh, and don't forget to bring a friend! See you there...

When bird movements are quiet at the point, you can usually count on the back bays to provide you with some good birding; this American Avocet was seen from the Osprey boat trip recently and may perhaps be the bird that had been seen several times at The Meadows recently [photo by Warren Cairo].

Whether you are 9 or 90, birding is a great hobby and instills in many a greater knowledge and understanding of the needs of other species. From there the best decisions to protect our environment and, ultimately, our own future can be made, based on sound knowledge and proven facts. These two Barn Swallows have just recently fledged from TNC's South Cape May Meadows - it's time for all of us to fledge a friend - come and join us at the state park on Friday [photo by Warren Cairo].

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Week in review: 9 – 15 August, 2014

CMBO is pleased to provide weekly summaries of the Cape's birding highlights. Coverage is limited to 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 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); HB (Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area); Higbee Dike (dredge spoils at northwest corner of Cape Island, site of CMBO's Morning Flight count); SCMM (South Cape May Meadows); SHPt (Stone Harbor Point).

 --===============--


WATERFOWL THROUGH TERNS
       Approximately 100 Black Scoters, and at least 2 Surf Scoters, continued their stay at CMP through the period (m. ob.). Wilson's Storm-Petrel reports continued to diminish, but a handful were seen during ferry crossings (m. ob.). The fall's first Green-winged Teal appeared at CMPSP 14 Aug (TR). A juvenile White Ibis was seen at the Cox Hall Creek marsh, along Clubhouse Drive in Town Bank, 12 Aug (TM, m. ob.). There have been no reports since. Westerly winds brought a Broad-winged Hawk over SCMM 15 Aug (VE). The season's 7th American Avocet was found at SCMM 14 Aug and continued through 15 Aug (RT, m. ob.). An Upland Sandpiper made for a surprising sight on the west path of SCMM 15 Aug (VE). A strong movement of shorebirds followed heavy rain associated with a cold frontal passage 13 Aug. This flight was easiest to observe at Cape Island, where 550 Lesser Yellowlegs and 120 Stilt Sandpipers flew south past SCMM during the AM hours (MO'B, m. ob.). Multiple American Golden-Plovers were noted after the storm at Cape May Airport 13 Aug (JN, BB), and 2 were seen over West Cape May 14 Aug (MO'B). Several observers sent along reports of White-rumped Sandpiper in recent days, including multiple sightings at SCMM. Mid-August can be a good time to find Marbled Godwit-- a group of 4 dropped in at SHPt 13 Aug (EH). SHPt was also home to 600 Sanderlings and 9 Lesser Black-backed Gulls 14 Aug (m. ob.). Black Terns became more obvious during the second half of the period, with sightings logged at SHPt, SCMM, and CMP (m. ob.). The SCMM beachfront was home to a pair of Sandwich Terns 15 Aug (VE). 


Louisiana Waterthrush - New 
Jersey
[Louisiana Waterthrush flying past the Higbee Dike, 14 Aug. Photo by Tom Johnson.]


DOVES THROUGH SPARROW
       A White-winged Dove put in a brief appearance at SCMM 11 Aug (m. ob.). It was last seen flying off toward West Cape May and has not been reported again. CMP's Eurasian Collared-Dove was last noticed near the corner of Lehigh & Lincoln Avenues 14 Aug (EO). Single Olive-sided Flycatchers were noted at HB (MeC, MiC) and CMPSP (m. ob.) 14 Aug. The season's first big push of songbird migrants arrived 14–15 Aug, on the heels of the cold front. Observers stationed atop the Higbee Dike tallied ~400 Eastern Kingbirds, 5 Louisiana Waterthrushes, 190 Northern Waterthrushes, 625 American Redstarts, 2 Cerulean Warblers, 365 Yellow Warblers, and 380 Bobolinks on the move during the early-morning hours 14 Aug (TJ, MG). Passerine arrivals at Cape Island included Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 10 Aug (MJ), Bay-breasted Warbler and Blackburnian Warbler 14 Aug (m. ob.), and Alder Flycatcher 15 Aug (NP). Other notables included a Golden-winged Warbler at HB 15 Aug (CB, m. ob.) and a Mourning Warbler at SCMM the same day (TR). Lastly, an adult Lark Sparrow was a splendid find at the Rea Farm/Beanery 9 Aug (m. ob.). 

  
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Contributors:
Bill Boyle (BB), Catherine Busch (CB), Megan Crewe (MeC), Mike Crewe (MiC), Vince Elia (VE), Matt Garvey (MG), Emily Heiser (EH), Matt Jewel (MJ), Tom Johnson (TJ), Tom McParland (TM), Josh Nemeth (JN), Michael O'Brien (MO'B), Emelia Oleson (EO), Nick Pulcinella (NP), Tom Reed (TR), Robert Templeton (RT).

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References:

*eBird. 2012. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application]. eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Accessed 15 Aug 2014. Available: http://www.ebird.org
*Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Accessed 15 Aug 2014. Available: http://keekeekerr.com/textalerts/keekeekerr