Thursday, July 31, 2008

CAPE MAY BIRDING HOTLINE - July 31, 2008

This is the Cape May Birding Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This week's message was prepared on Thursday, July 31, 2008. Highlights this week include sightings of WHITE IBIS, YELLOW RAIL, SURF SCOTER, BLACK SCOTER, HOODED MERGANSER, AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN, BROWN PELICAN, STILT SANDPIPER, LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, GLAUCOUS GULL, BLACK TERN, SANDWICH TERN, BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, and NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH.

A juvenile WHITE IBIS was last reported from Brig/Forsythe NWR on 7/29. Also there this week was a YELLOW RAIL, reportedly seen and heard in the area of Gull Pond on 7/24 and 7/25. The AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN and GLAUCOUS GULL continued through 7/31.

Another juvenile WHITE IBIS was seen at Cape May Point State Park on 7/26. Presumably the same bird was also seen at the South Cape May Meadows/CMMBR on 7/27.

An adult and a very recently-fledged SANDWICH TERN were observed at Champagne Island on 7/26, possibly indicating a first breeding record for New Jersey.

Reports from the South Cape May Meadows/CMMBR this week included BLACK TERN on 7/29, as well as BROWN PELICAN, STILT SANDPIPER and 14 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS on 7/28. The HOODED MERGANSER continued through 7/31.

A LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER was noted flying over Cape May Point State Park on 7/25.

BLACK and SURF SCOTERS were noted south of the Ocean Avenue beach-access in Cape May Point on 7/26.

Migrants tallied at Higbee Beach WMA this week included the season's first BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER and NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH.


ANNOUNCEMENTS:
CMBO's Northwood Center will be closed THURSDAY, AUGUST 7. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

CMBO is offering a special to new and upgraded membership renewals. Join CMBO for the first time or upgrade from Individual or Family to The Hundred and receive Charley Harper's Migration Mainline- Cape May lithograph poster, valued at $50. Call either CMBO center to ask an associate about joining today!

******CMBO Bookstore SUMMER HOURS (June - August) are as follows: Northwood Center on East Lake Drive in Cape May Point is open Wednesday through Monday, 9:30am to 4:30pm; closed Tuesdays. The Center for Research and Education on Rt. 47 in Goshen is open Tuesday through Sunday, 9:30am to 4:30pm; closed Mondays.******

The Cape May Birding Hotline is a service of the New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory and details sightings from Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties. Updates are made weekly. Please report sightings of rare or unusual birds to CMBO at 609-884-2736. Sponsorship for this hotline comes from the support of CMBO members and business members, and should you not be a member, we cordially invite you to join. Individual membership is $39 per year; $49 for families. You can call either center to become a member or visit. Become a member in person and you'll receive a FREE gift (in addition to member discount in the stores).

Good Luck and Good Birding!

Bird Walk for All People

Chuck & Mary Jane Slugg checked in with the following report from July's last Bird Walk for All People. This walk will continue at its 8:30am start time on Thursdays through August. To see a complete listing of walks, trips and programs for next month, be sure to check out the Naturalist Calendar.

While it appears that some of the year's hottest days are coming up during the next week, keep in mind that migration is occurring on a more consistent basis each and every day. In fact, the next cold front (whenever it gets here) should bring with it the first noticeable passerine flight of the season. Juveniles of many shorebird species will be arriving soon, and will help swell already-increasing numbers of southbound 'pipers. Given the time of year, and the predicted weather for the upcoming period, your best birding bets are probably at The Meadows, Brig/Forsythe NWR and Stone Harbor Point/Nummy Island.


Location: Cape May Point SP
Observation date: 7/31/08
Notes: A total of 13 new birders, including 2 youngsters under 12, joined us for the Walk for All People at the State Park. We enjoyed good looks at many of the shorebirds, gull, and terns, including some newly fledged common terns.
Number of species: 50

Canada Goose X
Mute Swan X
Mallard X
Double-crested Cormorant X
Great Egret X
Snowy Egret X
Glossy Ibis X
Osprey X
Semipalmated Plover X
Piping Plover X
Killdeer X
American Oystercatcher X
Solitary Sandpiper X
Greater Yellowlegs X
Lesser Yellowlegs X
Ruddy Turnstone X
Sanderling X
Semipalmated Sandpiper X
Least Sandpiper X
Short-billed Dowitcher X
Laughing Gull X
Ring-billed Gull X
Herring Gull X
Great Black-backed Gull X
Least Tern X
Common Tern X
Forster's Tern X
Black Skimmer X
Rock Pigeon X
Mourning Dove X
Chimney Swift X
Eastern Kingbird X
Fish Crow X
Purple Martin X
Tree Swallow X
Barn Swallow X
Carolina Chickadee X
Carolina Wren X
American Robin X
Gray Catbird X
Northern Mockingbird X
European Starling X
Cedar Waxwing X
Common Yellowthroat X
Song Sparrow X
Northern Cardinal X
Red-winged Blackbird X
Common Grackle X
Brown-headed Cowbird X
House Sparrow X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

End of July birds around the Point; migration notes

Steve Weis, Tom Parsons and Karl & Judy Lukens report the following from this morning's tour around Cape May Point:

"Very foggy for the CMBO Cape May Point Walk this morning. Off-shore birds not visible, couldn't even see the water from the dunes. Some shorebirds were on the second plover pond, and land birds along the trail. We did have close looks at a Green Heron and saw an adult Pine Warbler feeding 2 fledglings."

On another note, shorebirds continue to increase on the Cape. Numbers of Short-billed Dowitchers and several species of peeps have been feeding in the small pools along Stone Harbor Boulevard, and I have been hearing numerous flocks of Least Sandpipers and Short-billed Dowitchers migrating overhead at various locations during the past few days. Likewise, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are also increasing. Numbers at our feeders in Reed's Beach increased from two to six over the past week. Expect numbers to continue to rise as the peak migration for Ruby-throats approaches during the next few weeks.

Lastly, an interesting observation from a few evenings ago consisted of a Yellow Warbler that darted out of the backyard at dusk. The bird gave its flight call several times, made a large circle around the yard, oriented itself toward the south, and then gained altitute as it headed out on its way- a bird that was certainly continuing its migration that night. I couldn't help but wonder how far that bird might've flown that night, what obstacles it might have overcome, and where it ended up the next morning. Migration is really an amazing think to think about.

Complete list from Cape May Point included-

Location: Cape May Point SP
Observation date: 7/30/08
Number of species: 56
Canada Goose 30

Mute Swan 8
Mallard 25
Great Egret 1
Snowy Egret 3
Green Heron 2
Turkey Vulture 1
Osprey 1
Semipalmated Plover 1
Killdeer 2
Solitary Sandpiper 1
Greater Yellowlegs 5
Lesser Yellowlegs 3
Sanderling 15
Semipalmated Sandpiper 1
Least Sandpiper 10
Short-billed Dowitcher 1
Laughing Gull 20
Herring Gull 2
Great Black-backed Gull 10
Least Tern 40
Common Tern 5
Forster's Tern 20
Rock Pigeon 1
Mourning Dove 5
Chimney Swift 2
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 2
Eastern Kingbird 1
White-eyed Vireo 1
American Crow 2
Fish Crow 2
Purple Martin 20
Tree Swallow 1
Bank Swallow 1
Barn Swallow 5
Carolina Chickadee 2
Tufted Titmouse 2
Carolina Wren 5
House Wren 2
American Robin 3
Gray Catbird 2
Northern Mockingbird 1
European Starling 15
Cedar Waxwing 3
Yellow Warbler 1
Pine Warbler 3
Common Yellowthroat 5
Northern Cardinal 8
Indigo Bunting 3
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Common Grackle 2
Brown-headed Cowbird 2
Orchard Oriole 2
House Finch 3
American Goldfinch 2
House Sparrow 10

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Another summer back-bay sea duck, and reports from Higbee and the Meadows


[Surf Scoter male (the light patch at the nape becomes obscured in summer Surf Scoters due to feather wear), in the bay near Avalon July 27. Seen by kayak, but could be found by looking inland from the toll bridge at the north end of Avalon. All photos by Don Freiday, click to enlarge.]

Given last week's eider and this week's Surf Scoter, I've decided the new best way to find sea ducks is to look for them in back bays and salt marshes in July. . .

The marshes near Avalon, which can be viewed in part from the road leading from Parkway exit 13 eastward to Avalon, were loaded with shorebirds on Sunday, including 100's of dowitchers and other common species, 20 or more Whimbrel, and a handful of White-rumped Sandpipers and Western Sandpipers.



[Downy Herring Gull chick, in an inaccessible gull colony east of Avalon. "Digi-binned" by Don Freiday.]












[Brand new juvenile Herring Gull flanked by its parents, same colony, which also included Great Black-backed Gulls. The big gulls breed in isolated colonies on higher areas in the salt marsh, almost always far away from people.]











[Fledgling American Oystercatcher, produced in the back bay.]









Higbee Beach this morning held an American Redstart, about 10 Yellow Warblers, a few flyover Bobolinks, and the usual breeders, including still-singing Blue Grosbeaks, Yellow-breasted Chats, White-eyed Vireos and Indigo Buntings. I watched a juvenile Great-crested Flycatcher, capable of flight, being fed by his parents. Vince Elia tells me that this weekend he had a single early migrant Black-throated Green Warbler amidst a migrant flock consisting otherwise of Yellow Warblers, many Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, redstart, and Black-and-white Warbler.


Todays CMBO meadows walk was highlighted by Brown Pelican, 4 flyby Stilt Sandpipers, and fledged Least Terns on the beach. Sanderling numbers have increased markedly, with about 75 dodging walkers on the beach. The full list from the meadows walk follows.

Location: South Cape May Meadows
Observation date: 7/28/08
Number of species: 67
Canada Goose 150
Mute Swan 10
Wood Duck 1
Gadwall 2
American Black Duck x Mallard (hybrid) 1
Mallard 20
Brown Pelican 1
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 10
Snowy Egret 5
Green Heron 2
Black-crowned Night-Heron 2
Glossy Ibis 25
Osprey 3
Black-bellied Plover 1
Semipalmated Plover 10
Piping Plover 3
Killdeer 10
American Oystercatcher 4
Solitary Sandpiper 2
Greater Yellowlegs 5
Lesser Yellowlegs 15
Sanderling 75
Semipalmated Sandpiper 5
Least Sandpiper 15
Stilt Sandpiper 4
Short-billed Dowitcher 15
Laughing Gull X
Ring-billed Gull 5
Herring Gull X
Lesser Black-backed Gull 5
Great Black-backed Gull X
Least Tern 75
Common Tern 75
Forster's Tern 25
Royal Tern 4
Black Skimmer 2
Rock Pigeon 5
Mourning Dove 10
Chimney Swift 5
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
Belted Kingfisher 2
Eastern Kingbird 3
White-eyed Vireo 1
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 10
Purple Martin 30
Tree Swallow 5
Barn Swallow 10
Carolina Wren 5
House Wren 2
American Robin 10
Gray Catbird 1
Northern Mockingbird 5
European Starling 10
Cedar Waxwing 15
Yellow Warbler 5
Common Yellowthroat 5
Song Sparrow 2
Northern Cardinal 5
Indigo Bunting 1
Red-winged Blackbird 20
Common Grackle 10
Brown-headed Cowbird 20
Orchard Oriole 5
American Goldfinch 5
House Sparrow 10

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sandwich Tern Chick (!), White Ibis, Black Scoter

Just got an email from Mike Fritz re: Champagne Island's Sandwich Tern(s):

"Don, I was out there last night and photographed as did Kevin Karlson a young Sandwich Tern chick that was with an adult. It was capable of flight ( just barely) and I can't imagine it came from anywhere other than Champagne Island as it had very undeveloped flight feathers and it was unbanded so likely wasn't a Maryland bird."

This is fantastic news! I'm not sure what was going on with the Sandwich Tern I saw there yesterday - Mike suggested it could have been looking for a chick to feed, but it seemed to clearly be courting the Royal Terns, so it could be yet another bird. Part of the problem with observing at Champagne Island (besides the fact you can only get there by boat, or view from the tip of Stone Harbor Point) is that part of the colony is not visible from where the public is allowed to go, because the state has rightly closed much of the island off.

Happily, the little subcolony of Black Skimmers on the south side of the island survived last week's full moon tide. Birders tend to hope for hurricanes and tropical storms to bring vagrants, but from the perspective of beach nesters we should hope the storms wait until September.

More bird news comes from Bob & Mary Ellen Claussen, also by email from yesterday:

"7 PM at the Meadows, right in front of the observation deck, for 15 minutes we had an immature white ibis preening. Also about 7:15, two immature yellow crowned night herons flew in and landed on the other side of the pathway."

And, "At approximately 1:30 PM on 7/26, we had a black scoter in the water and a surf scoter on the beach two jetties south of the Ocean Ave. jetty at Cape May Point."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

White Ibis in Cape May, Sandwich Tern "courtship" at Champagne Island, Pelican, more

Karl Lukens reports: "Highlight of the morning's CMBO Cape May Point Walk was a young White Ibis that flew over Lighthouse Pond East and landed where it could not be seen.
In a few minutes it got up and flew towards Bunker Pond but could not be relocated. Shorebirds were in the second plover pond, but looking towards the sun was not the best viewing. A number of Yellow Warblers were seen on the woods trail. - Karl, Judy, Tom, Kathy & Roger Horn."

Karl et al's full list is below. Like them, I also noted several Yellow Warbers at Stone Harbor at dawn today, excitedly giving flight notes as if they had just arrived, which they probably had.

This morning I observed some very interesting behavior by a Sandwich Tern on Champagne Island. The tern, with the white forehead of "non-breeding" plumage (many if not most of the Royals are in similar condition) walked about amidst apparently idle Royal Terns within the colony. These were Royals that at the time were not associating with a mate, nest or chick, and not out foraging. The Sandwich paused in front of each Royal and threw its head back while calling - it tried its luck with at least 15 Royals. The Sandwich Tern then departed, returning with a fish that it proceeded to parade (in flight) first over the colony, then out to a group of loafing terns on a sandbar, then back to the colony, calling the whole time. By behavior one presumes this was a male looking for a mate. The following is quoted from Birds of North America account:

"Usually aerial display follows ground courtship. An unmated male flies around a flock of loafing birds, usually carrying a fish and vocalizing in advertisement. He may alight on the ground near the flock and raise head and bill while calling, with wings held away from the body and crest raised. "

A northward extension of Sandwich Tern breeding range could be imminent, all we need is a receptive female.

Other terns are producing flying young. Last night at the meadows I saw my first fledged Common Terns and Least Terns. Forster's Tern fledges appeared there some time ago.

Karl et.al also made the following report on Friday's CMBO Evening Walk at the Meadows: "Although the quantities were low,the variety of shorebirds was good. One scope view had 2 Pectorals, 1 Least Sandpiper, and a Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. On the beach we had 6 Oystercatchers, several Piping Plovers, many Sanderling, and a few Semi-palmated Plover. Lesser Black-backed Gulls are still present on the beach. - Karl, Judy, Chuck, Mary Jane, Kathy & Roger Horn."

Last night I walked from Cape May Point to Cape May City and back again, and counted at least 14 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, and also had a Brown Pelican fly by. Bottle-nosed Dolphins have been foraging close to the beach there, always a treat.

The list for this morning's CMBO Cape May Point State Park walk follows.

Location: Cape May Point SP
Observation date: 7/26/08
Number of species: 63

Canada Goose 30
Mute Swan 10
Mallard 40
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 10
White Ibis 1
Glossy Ibis 25
Turkey Vulture 2
Osprey 1
Semipalmated Plover 1
Killdeer 6
American Oystercatcher 2
Solitary Sandpiper 1
Greater Yellowlegs 1
Lesser Yellowlegs 5
Ruddy Turnstone 2
Sanderling 6
Least Sandpiper 8
Stilt Sandpiper 1
Short-billed Dowitcher 6
Laughing Gull 50
Ring-billed Gull 2
Herring Gull 15
Lesser Black-backed Gull 2
Great Black-backed Gull 50
Least Tern 75
Common Tern 5
Forster's Tern 20
Black Skimmer 1
Rock Pigeon 5
Mourning Dove 5
Chimney Swift 3
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 4
Downy Woodpecker 3
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 1
Eastern Kingbird 2
White-eyed Vireo 1
American Crow 2
Fish Crow 5
Purple Martin 50
Tree Swallow 5
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 1
Barn Swallow 5
Carolina Chickadee 5
Tufted Titmouse 3
Carolina Wren 5
House Wren 1
American Robin 5
Gray Catbird 3
Northern Mockingbird 2
Brown Thrasher 1
European Starling 15
Cedar Waxwing 3
Prairie Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 5
Northern Cardinal 10
Indigo Bunting 3
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Common Grackle 5
Brown-headed Cowbird 5
House Finch 5
American Goldfinch 1
House Sparrow 5

Thursday, July 24, 2008

CAPE MAY BIRDING HOTLINE - July 24, 2008

This is the Cape May Birding Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This week's message was prepared on Thursday, July 24, 2008. Highlights this week include sightings of WHITE IBIS, WHITE-FACED IBIS, COMMON EIDER, HOODED MERGANSER, CORY'S SHEARWATER, NORTHERN GANNET, AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN, WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, STILT SANDPIPER, LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, GLAUCOUS GULL, BLACK TERN, SANDWICH TERN, PARASITIC JAEGER, RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER, AMERICAN REDSTART, PROTHONOTARY WARBLER, DICKCISSEL, and RED CROSSBILL.


A WHITE-FACED IBIS was observed flying south over the South Cape May Meadows/CMMBR on 7/21. Other reports from the Meadows this week included CORY'S SHEARWATER, NORTHERN GANNET, SANDWICH TERN and PARASITIC JAEGER on 7/17, 15 STILT SANDPIPERS on 7/21, and BLACK TERN on 7/23. The HOODED MERGANSER continues to linger here, most often seen roosting on the center island.

A WHITE IBIS was last reported from Brig/Forsythe NWR on 7/22. The continuing AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN and GLAUCOUS GULL were last noted here on 7/20. WHITE-FACED IBIS, LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER and BLACK TERN were reported here on 7/17.

A RED CROSSBILL was discovered in Linwood, Atlantic County on 7/23.

An immature male COMMON EIDER was seen in the back-bay slightly north from the "free bridge" at Nummy Island, on 7/20.

A DICKCISSEL was recorded flying over Higbee Beach WMA on 7/19. Other early migrants found there this week included BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER, AMERICAN REDSTART and PROTHONOTARY WARBLER.

2 RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS were found in a traditional location this week, at the end of 12th Street in Del Haven.

Numerous LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS continue to be found along the beachfront between the South Cape May Meadows/CMMBR and Cape May Point State Park on a daily basis. A WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER was found in the second plover pond at the State Park on 7/21.


ANNOUNCEMENTS:
CMBO's Northwood Center will be closed TUESDAY, JULY 29 through THURSDAY, JULY 31 for inventory. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

CMBO is offering a special to new and upgraded membership renewals. Join CMBO for the first time or upgrade from Individual or Family to The Hundred and receive Charley Harper's Migration Mainline- Cape May lithograph poster, valued at $50. Call either CMBO center to ask an associate about joining today!

******CMBO Bookstore SUMMER HOURS (June - August) are as follows: Northwood Center on East Lake Drive in Cape May Point is open Wednesday through Monday, 9:30am to 4:30pm; closed Tuesdays. The Center for Research and Education on Rt. 47 in Goshen is open Tuesday through Sunday, 9:30am to 4:30pm; closed Mondays.******

The Cape May Birding Hotline is a service of the New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory and details sightings from Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties. Updates are made weekly. Please report sightings of rare or unusual birds to CMBO at 609-884-2736. Sponsorship for this hotline comes from the support of CMBO members and business members, and should you not be a member, we cordially invite you to join. Individual membership is $39 per year; $49 for families. You can call either center to become a member or visit. Become a member in person and you'll receive a FREE gift (in addition to member discount in the stores).

Good Luck and Good Birding!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

White-faced Ibis flyby, little flight at Higbee, Red-headed Woodpecker report

A few miscellaneous bird reports:

A White-faced Ibis was seen flying south at the Meadows on Monday.

Vince Elia reported a smattering of migrants at the Hibee Beach parking lot on Monday, which included Worm-eating Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Yellow Warbler, and mutliple Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. Vince and I were joking about why we bird anywhere else at Higbee, since the lot is so often so good. It is certainly worth a quick stop anytime you're in the area. Bob Fogg and Tom Magarian reported similar birds there today, adding Prothonotary Warbler and American Redstart. Bob also took some nice photos of a new juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-heron at the Meadows. There have been good numbers of peep at the Higbee dike, and peep and some of the longer-legged birds at Pond Creek Marsh.

Two Red-headed Woodpeckers were reported at the end of 12th Street in Del Haven on Tuesday, on the edge of Cape May National Wildlife Refuge property. This general area is a more or less regular location for the species.

I had a Louisiana Waterthrush fly over my home in Del Haven this morning.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Last Plover Chick of Season, 15 Stilt Sands and more in the Meadows


[This Piping Plover chick at the South Cape May Meadows apparently hatched between Friday night 7/18 and Saturday night 7/19, when photographed with a parent. It is from the pair that occupied the plover cage west of the west path, the same pair that has been enduring too much interest from American Crows, and that I posted video of doing a distraction display about a week ago. All photos by Don Freiday, click to enlarge.]




[Ducking under to be brooded. Chicks are brooded frequently in the first few days of life, often every few minutes.]


It was a typically birdy walk this Monday morning at the South Cape May Meadows, highlighted by two Whimbrels (one of which landed in the Meadows for a little while) and a neat flock of 15 Stilt Sandpipers, which fed for a short time before moving on.




[Part of the flock of Stilt Sandpipers, digiscoped through mist.]














Other highlights included 3 Bobolinks flying over, several Green Herons, and a Gull-billed Tern. 5 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were also of interest , most likely dispersing juveniles - though truthfully we never saw one even well enough to identify it to species, let alone age them, so I suppose they should go down as hummingbird, sp. Also interesting were 2 Northern Flickers - I haven't seen one in the Meadows since May 19, and can only conclude these were migrants, or wandering failed breeders. Flickers certainly breed in Cape May, e.g. one at the state park June 7 this year.

We also re-sighted the new Piping Plover chick from the photos above - for a Piping Plover chick, lasting even two days is an accomplishment. The full list from this morning is below.

[It could have been an interesting morning of seawatching, given Tropical Storm Cristobal and that in the past few days there finally have been more birds in the Cape May rips. . .could have been, save the sea fog, thanks to the very warm humid air and the still-cool ocean. That's Tom Parson checking the gull flock on the beach, which today included 10 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.]






[What the Least Terns do when you walk either of the paths to the beach at the Meadows, especially the east path - attack! I snapped this photo while ducking and hustling through Saturday night. Several Least Tern chicks have been waiting to be fed just west of the east path, explaining their parents' aggressive defense.]




Location: South Cape May Meadows
Observation date: 7/21/08
Notes: CMBO Monday Morning Meadows walk. Weather notes from NWS: "SYNOPSIS...TROPICAL STORM CRISTOBAL WILL PASS WELL TO OUR EAST TODAY AND TONIGHT. A WEAK FRONTAL BOUNDARY OVER THE AREA TODAY WILL STALL FOR MUCH OF THE WEEK.
Number of species: 63
Canada Goose 100
Mute Swan 15
Gadwall 2
Mallard 50
Great Egret 5
Snowy Egret 5
Green Heron 3
Black-crowned Night-Heron 2
Glossy Ibis 10
Turkey Vulture 1
Osprey 3
Semipalmated Plover 1
Piping Plover 3
Killdeer 5
American Oystercatcher 4
Solitary Sandpiper 1
Greater Yellowlegs 10
Willet 3
Lesser Yellowlegs 10
Whimbrel 2
Sanderling 8
Semipalmated Sandpiper 1
Least Sandpiper 20
Pectoral Sandpiper 1
Stilt Sandpiper 15
Short-billed Dowitcher 25
Laughing Gull X
Ring-billed Gull 10
Herring Gull 20
Lesser Black-backed Gull 10
Great Black-backed Gull 50
Least Tern 20
Gull-billed Tern 1
Common Tern 10
Forster's Tern 25
Royal Tern 1
Black Skimmer 5
Rock Pigeon 2
Mourning Dove 20
Chimney Swift 5
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 5
Northern Flicker 2
Eastern Kingbird 3
Fish Crow 5
Purple Martin 30
Tree Swallow 5
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 5
Barn Swallow 10
Carolina Wren 5
American Robin 20
Northern Mockingbird 2
European Starling 50
Common Yellowthroat 3
Song Sparrow 1
Northern Cardinal 3
Indigo Bunting 1
Bobolink 3
Red-winged Blackbird 25
Common Grackle 20
Brown-headed Cowbird 3
House Finch 2
American Goldfinch 2
House Sparrow 20

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Common Eider (!) Near Stone Harbor


[What the. . .!? Photos by Don Freiday, click to enlarge.]

So there I am paddling along in my kayak near Stone Harbor this morning, enjoying the increasing abundance of returning shorebirds (like 150 Short-billed Dowitchers in one flock roosting behind the Wetlands Institute, plus Whimbrel, flocks of Semi-palmated Plovers, and Eastern Willets, much diminished in number but still present and noisy), the Osprey show (all active nests have large young, e.g. the one north of the free bridge to Nummy has 3), many herons (including Little Blue, Tri-colored, and a Yellow-crowned Night Heron in transition from immature to adult plumage with no yellow crown, but a bold face pattern with white cheek framed in solid dark), and the recently fledged and near fledging Laughing Gulls. And, sitting on the marsh with some laugher fledglings, was a bird a bit out of place. . . .


[Immature male Common Eider standing on the salt marsh west of Stone Harbor. I think a Common Eider was detected in this vicinity during the World Series of Birding back in May. Both eiders are known to summer, very rarely - there are examples of summer eider records in the on-line archives of NJAS's birding hotlines. Look north of the free bridge to Nummy Island to search for this bird; however, today it would not have been findable from shore.]

[Some of the Laughing Gull fledglings wind up in Great Channel's strong tidal flow when they aren't quite ready - this guy, nicknamed the obvious (Gulliver) looked so piteous I gave him a ride to shore, his parents watching with great interest. The day's good deed done. . .until next summer, a cynic might say, when this bird is pirating skimmer eggs. . .nonetheless, it is difficult to watch an animal headed for apparent death and do nothing.]


Saturday, July 19, 2008

CMBO Cape May Point State Park Walk- 7/19/08

"Nice assortment of land and water birds this morning on the CMBO Cape May
Point Walk at the State Park. A flock of about 25 Whimbrel flew over, as
well as some Yellowlegs, Leasts, and Dowitchers. Other birds of note were a
1st year Little Blue Heron, a Gull-billed Tern over Bunker Pond for a brief
moment, and a scope look at a male Blue Grosbeak."



Location:     Cape May Point SP
Observation date:     7/19/08
Number of species:     63
Canada Goose     50
Mute Swan     10
Mallard     25
Great Egret     5
Little Blue Heron     1
Black-crowned Night-Heron     1
Glossy Ibis     1
Turkey Vulture     1
Osprey     1
Red-tailed Hawk     1
Piping Plover     4
Killdeer     4
American Oystercatcher     1
Greater Yellowlegs     2
Lesser Yellowlegs     2
Whimbrel     25
Least Sandpiper     5
Stilt Sandpiper     1
Short-billed Dowitcher     5
Laughing Gull     X
Ring-billed Gull     2
Herring Gull     10
Great Black-backed Gull     50
Least Tern     25
Gull-billed Tern     1
Common Tern     3
Forster's Tern     10
Black Skimmer     1
Rock Pigeon     5
Mourning Dove     5
Chimney Swift     10
Ruby-throated Hummingbird     4
Downy Woodpecker     2
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)     1
Eastern Kingbird     4
White-eyed Vireo     2
American Crow     5
Fish Crow     1
Purple Martin     50
Tree Swallow     1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow     1
Barn Swallow     5
Carolina Chickadee     5
Tufted Titmouse     3
Carolina Wren     5
House Wren     1
American Robin     5
Gray Catbird     1
Northern Mockingbird     3
Brown Thrasher     1
European Starling     15
Cedar Waxwing     3
Common Yellowthroat     4
Song Sparrow     1
Northern Cardinal     6
Blue Grosbeak     1
Indigo Bunting     2
Red-winged Blackbird     10
Common Grackle     5
Brown-headed Cowbird     5
House Finch     2
American Goldfinch     5
House Sparrow     5

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2

Friday, July 18, 2008

Yet more birds from the Meadows- CMBO walk summary

The following just in from Karl & Judy Lukens, along with Chuck & Mary Jane Slugg:

"Nice evening at the CMBO Walk at the "Meadows". Not many, but good shorebirds, with 2 groups of 10 and 7 Whimbrels flying over. Still fairly easy to find a few of the Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the Beach and also found 7 Oystercatchers there."

Additionally, shorebirds have started arriving in more noticeable numbers here along the bayshore, with both yellowlegs, Short-billed Dowitchers and Least Sandpipers increasing daily in the Reed's Beach area. I also came across my first passerine migrant of the "fall", a single Blue-gray Gnatcatcher feeding along the marsh edge this evening.

Location: South Cape May Meadows
Observation date: 7/18/08
Number of species: 46
Canada Goose 50

Mute Swan 20
Mallard 25
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 6
Green Heron 2
Black-crowned Night-Heron 2
Glossy Ibis 10
Osprey 1
Piping Plover 2
Killdeer 2
American Oystercatcher 7
Spotted Sandpiper 2
Greater Yellowlegs 1
Lesser Yellowlegs 2
Whimbrel 17
Sanderling 30
Semipalmated Sandpiper 1
Least Sandpiper 10
Short-billed Dowitcher 7
Laughing Gull X
Ring-billed Gull 4
Herring Gull X
Lesser Black-backed Gull 3
Great Black-backed Gull X
Least Tern 20
Common Tern 4
Forster's Tern 10
Black Skimmer 2
Rock Pigeon 2
Mourning Dove 5
Chimney Swift 2
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 1
Fish Crow 1
Purple Martin 3
Barn Swallow 3
Carolina Wren 1
Northern Mockingbird 2
European Starling 25
Common Yellowthroat 5
Northern Cardinal 2
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Common Grackle 5
House Finch 2
American Goldfinch 1
House Sparrow 1

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)

Sandwich Tern photo


Just wanted to share a photo of the Sandwich Tern from Karl Lukens. The bird was not there when Laura and I attempted a quick search effort around 5:45. But we did have a good, yet quick looks at a Bank and Cliff Swallow together near the turn in the east path where it turns toward the beach.

The is from our short jaunt is below.

Location: South Cape May Meadows
Observation date: 7/18/08
Notes: 1351 steps = approx .9 miles
Number of species: 46

Canada Goose X
Mute Swan 12
Gadwall X
Mallard X
Great Egret 4
Snowy Egret 2
Little Blue Heron 1
Glossy Ibis 8
Osprey 2
Semipalmated Plover 2
Killdeer 10
Spotted Sandpiper 3
Greater Yellowlegs 4
Lesser Yellowlegs 6
Semipalmated Sandpiper 2
Least Sandpiper X
Short-billed Dowitcher X
Laughing Gull X
Ring-billed Gull 1
Herring Gull X
Great Black-backed Gull X
Least Tern X
Common Tern X
Forster's Tern X
Mourning Dove 4
Chimney Swift 6
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 1
Eastern Kingbird X
Fish Crow X
Purple Martin X
Tree Swallow X
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 3
Bank Swallow 1
Cliff Swallow 1
Barn Swallow X
American Robin X
Northern Mockingbird X
European Starling X
Yellow Warbler X
Common Yellowthroat X
Indigo Bunting 3
Red-winged Blackbird X
Common Grackle X
Brown-headed Cowbird X
American Goldfinch X
House Sparrow X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cory's Shearwater and other notes

As Jason reported, there was a Sandwich Tern hanging out in the middle impoundment of the Meadows late this afternoon, last seen around 4:30pm. Expect photos and possibly a video of the bird to be on the site in the near future.

Some additional time spent around the Meadows this evening produced a few other nice sightings, highlighted by a brief look at a Cory's Shearwater that was flying along, quite a distance offshore. The bird was flying with a purpose and couldn't be found later on, when a couple hundred Laughing Gulls started feeding in the rips. Keep in mind that immature Northern Gannets, like the few that have been around recently, can be confused with Cory's Shearwaters, so take caution when searching for tubenoses from shore.

Continuing on that note, there were two Northern Gannets offshore about an hour later, picked out by Bob Fogg. Soon thereafter, a flock of a couple hundred large-ish shorebirds flew out of the bay, extremely distant on the horizon, and were likely either Whimbrel or Willets. A flock of about 80 Whimbrel had flown past shortly after the shearwater sighting.

Otherwise, the Hooded Merganser was still lounging on the middle island, and there were a few of the more regular shorebird species hanging around the place, namely Short-billed Dowitcher, Least Sandpiper and both yellowlegs. The Willow Flycatchers that were singing on a regular basis through Independence Day have been silent (to my ears, at least) since last week.

Full list from four hours at the Meadows included-

Location: South Cape May Meadows
Observation date: 7/17/08
Number of species: 66
Canada Goose 20

Mute Swan 24
Gadwall 6
Mallard 20
Hooded Merganser 1
Cory's Shearwater 1
Northern Gannet 2
Double-crested Cormorant 1
Great Egret 6
Snowy Egret 3
Glossy Ibis 20
Turkey Vulture 3
Osprey 5
Cooper's Hawk 1
Semipalmated Plover 1
Piping Plover 4
Killdeer 6
American Oystercatcher 6
Spotted Sandpiper 1
Greater Yellowlegs 3
Willet (Western) 1
Lesser Yellowlegs 3
Whimbrel 80
Sanderling 2
Semipalmated Sandpiper 1
Least Sandpiper 40
Short-billed Dowitcher 35
Laughing Gull 275
Ring-billed Gull 9
Herring Gull 20
Lesser Black-backed Gull 6
Great Black-backed Gull 75
Least Tern 25
Common Tern 30
Forster's Tern 12
Sterna sp. 6
Sandwich Tern 1
Black Skimmer 4
Rock Pigeon 1
Mourning Dove 6
Chimney Swift 8
Belted Kingfisher 1
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 1
Eastern Kingbird 1
American Crow 1
Fish Crow 5
Purple Martin 30
Tree Swallow 4
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 2
Barn Swallow 15
Carolina Wren 2
House Wren 2
American Robin 6
Gray Catbird 2
Northern Mockingbird 2
European Starling 20
Yellow Warbler 2
Common Yellowthroat 1
Song Sparrow 2
Northern Cardinal 2
Indigo Bunting 1
Red-winged Blackbird 20
Common Grackle 6
House Finch 2
American Goldfinch 2
House Sparrow 4

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)

SANDWICH TERN- TNC's Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge

A Sandwich Tern was spotted by Tom Reed ( at about 3:50 p.m.) this afternoon, hanging on the middle island at TNC's CMMBR.

Below is the list from my time spent birding this location in the morning.  Most of the couple hours at the Meadows this morning were spent looking over the ocean for birds over the water.  Highlights were one Northern Gannet and a dark Parasitic Jaeger cruising around with no apparent agenda.  Otherwise the waster was devoid of any species other than the typical terns and gull that you would expect.  There were a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the beach toward the west trial dune crossing, along with great black-backs and Herring Gulls.  One Ring-billed Gull in the middle of the mix.

The Hooded Merganser continues to be seen at the meadows and shorebird numbers continue to build.  Bob Fogg said that he also had a decent number of shorebirds along the plover ponds at the Cape May Point State Park today.  No surprises in terms of species but nice close looks which afforded good study opportunities.

Below the meadows list from today I've included the list from my birding up at Belleplain State Forest on Tuesday, 7/15.  I had a meeting up at the Center for Research and Education all day and figured that while I had to head up that way anyway....might as well throw some birding in before being locked inside all day.

The birding was not spectacular by Belleplain standards but I had great looks at Worm-eating Warblers feeding young and managed to hear or see most of the expected species for the area.  That morning's birding was capped off by a short trip to Jake's Landing on my way into the center for the meeting.  I just don't get to Jake's enough so I am always excited about the birding there.  A very distant harrier and a Salt-marsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow giving great looks in the road were highlights.  Other than that, numerous Seaside Sparrows flying back and forth with food for young and Marsh Wrens doing the same were nice sights to see.

Location:     South Cape May Meadows
Observation date:     7/17/08
Notes:     2548 steps = approx. 1.66 miles
Number of species:     58

Canada Goose     65
Mute Swan     12
Gadwall     8
Mallard     35
Hooded Merganser     1
Northern Gannet     1
Double-crested Cormorant     4
Green Heron     2
Glossy Ibis     4
Osprey     2
Semipalmated Plover     4
Piping Plover     1
Killdeer     6
American Oystercatcher     6
Spotted Sandpiper     3
Solitary Sandpiper     2
Greater Yellowlegs     16
Willet     2
Lesser Yellowlegs     18
Semipalmated Sandpiper     3
Least Sandpiper     25
Pectoral Sandpiper     1
Short-billed Dowitcher     35
Laughing Gull     X
Ring-billed Gull     1
Herring Gull     30
Lesser Black-backed Gull     4
Great Black-backed Gull     45
Least Tern     X
Common Tern     2
Forster's Tern     20
Royal Tern     2
Black Skimmer     1
Parasitic Jaeger     1
Rock Pigeon     X
Mourning Dove     X
Chimney Swift     3
Belted Kingfisher     2
Downy Woodpecker     1
Northern Flicker     1
Eastern Kingbird     2
Fish Crow     X
Purple Martin     X
Tree Swallow     3
Northern Rough-winged Swallow     4
Barn Swallow     X
European Starling     X
Yellow Warbler     5
Common Yellowthroat     X
Song Sparrow     3
Northern Cardinal     X
Indigo Bunting     4
Red-winged Blackbird     X
Common Grackle     X
Brown-headed Cowbird     X
House Finch     X
American Goldfinch     X
House Sparrow     X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2

Location:     Belleplain SF - Sunset Bridge
Observation date:     7/15/08
Notes:     922 steps = approx. .6 miles
Number of species:     33

Laughing Gull     X
Mourning Dove     X
Yellow-billed Cuckoo     2
Ruby-throated Hummingbird     2
Red-bellied Woodpecker     1
Hairy Woodpecker     2
Eastern Wood-Pewee     4
Acadian Flycatcher     5
Great Crested Flycatcher     X
Eastern Kingbird     X
White-eyed Vireo     18
Carolina Chickadee     X
Tufted Titmouse     6
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher     6
Wood Thrush     3
American Robin     X
Cedar Waxwing     X
Yellow-throated Warbler     3
Pine Warbler     4
Prairie Warbler     1
Black-and-white Warbler     3
Worm-eating Warbler     6
Ovenbird     3
Common Yellowthroat     1
Hooded Warbler     1
Scarlet Tanager     1
Eastern Towhee     8
Chipping Sparrow     1
Northern Cardinal     X
Bobolink     2
Common Grackle     X
Brown-headed Cowbird     X
American Goldfinch     X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2

Location:     Jakes Landing
Observation date:     7/15/08
Notes:     830 steps = approx. .5 miles
Number of species:     17

Great Egret     20
Snowy Egret     6
Glossy Ibis     75
Northern Harrier     1
Clapper Rail     8
Least Sandpiper     4
Laughing Gull     X
Herring Gull     X
Great Black-backed Gull     1
Forster's Tern     4
Bank Swallow     1
Barn Swallow     25
Marsh Wren     18
Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow     1
Seaside Sparrow     25
Red-winged Blackbird     X
Common Grackle     X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2

CAPE MAY BIRDING HOTLINE - July 17, 2008

This is the Cape May Birding Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This week's message was prepared on Thursday, July 17, 2008. Highlights this week include sightings of BRANT, SURF SCOTER, WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, HOODED MERGANSER, WILSON'S STORM-PETREL, NORTHERN GANNET, AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN, LEAST BITTERN, KING RAIL, AMERICAN AVOCET, MARBLED GODWIT, PURPLE SANDPIPER, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, GLAUCOUS GULL, BLACK TERN, PARASITIC JAEGER, and PINE SISKIN.

6 AMERICAN AVOCETS were reported from Brig/Forsythe NWR on 7/10, and the AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN was seen again on 7/14. Also at Brig this week were BLACK TERN and the continuing GLAUCOUS GULL.

A PINE SISKIN flew over Higbee Beach WMA, in the area of Davies Lake, on 7/12.

Poverty Beach hosted SURF SCOTER and WHITE-WINGED SCOTER this week.

A BRANT and a dark-morph PARASITIC JAEGER were seen from the South Cape May Meadows/CMMBR on 7/11. Two PARASITIC JAEGERS were reported from around Cape May Point through the week.

The HOODED MERGANSER at the Meadows continues to be seen sporadically, and a LEAST BITTERN was heard along the east path on 7/11.

A PURPLE SANDPIPER was reported at Stone Harbor Point this week.

Multiple NORTHERN GANNETS and WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS have been seen from Cape May Point throughout the week.

A KING RAIL was recorded along Tyler Road, near Tuckahoe, on 7/14.

A MARBLED GODWIT was noted flying over Nummy Island on 7/13.

Over a dozen LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS continue to be found along the beachfront between the South Cape May Meadows/CMMBR and Cape May Point State Park.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:
CMBO's Northwood Center will be closed TUESDAY, JULY 29 through THURSDAY, JULY 31 for inventory. The Northwood Center will also be closed on Wed. July 23 and Thurs. July 24. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

CMBO is offering a special to new and upgraded membership renewals. Join CMBO for the first time or upgrade from Individual or Family to The Hundred and receive Charley Harper's Migration Mainline- Cape May lithograph poster, valued at $50. Call either CMBO center to ask an associate about joining today!

******CMBO Bookstore SUMMER HOURS (June - August) are as follows: Northwood Center on East Lake Drive in Cape May Point is open Wednesday through Monday, 9:30am to 4:30pm; closed Tuesdays. The Center for Research and Education on Rt. 47 in Goshen is open Tuesday through Sunday, 9:30am to 4:30pm; closed Mondays.******

The Cape May Birding Hotline is a service of the New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory and details sightings from Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties. Updates are made weekly. Please report sightings of rare or unusual birds to CMBO at 609-884-2736. Sponsorship for this hotline comes from the support of CMBO members and business members, and should you not be a member, we cordially invite you to join. Individual membership is $39 per year; $49 for families. You can call either center to become a member or visit. Become a member in person and you'll receive a FREE gift (in addition to member discount in the stores).

Good Luck and Good Birding!

South of the Canal and Shellbay


[Nearly full moon rising over Jenkin's Sound at Shellbay Landing last evening. Photo by Don Freiday, click to enlarge.]
A couple birds of note were reported from south of the canal this morning, those being a dark Parasitic Jaeger and a young Northern Gannet seen off the Cape May Meadows by Vince Elia, Tom Magarian, and Jason Guerard. Tom also tells me he had a few Yellow Warblers. I also heard an amazing report, second hand but from a reliable observer, of a Purple Sandpiper at Stone Harbor.

This morning's CMBO Bird Walk for All People at the state park noted continued shorebird movement, mostly Least Sandpipers, yellowlegs, and dowitchers. I'm told Semi-palmated Plover and Pectoral Sandpiper were found at the meadows. We noted an apparent slight increase in Osprey numbers, and a few very new Least Tern chicks at the state park. The full list from the walk is below.


Last night I paddled around Jenkin's Sound, accessed from Shellbay Landing. Seaside Saprrows were constant (I listened carefully but unsuccessfully for Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows), as were Clapper Rails and foraging Black Skimmers from nearby Champagne Island. A few Black-crowned Night Herons began appearing as the sun set.

Location: Cape May Point SP
Observation date: 7/17/08
Notes: CMBO Bird Walk for All People
Number of species: 35
Canada Goose 10
Mute Swan 1
Mallard 15
Great Egret 3
Glossy Ibis 20
Osprey 5
Piping Plover 1
Killdeer 3
American Oystercatcher 2
Greater Yellowlegs 5
Lesser Yellowlegs 10
Least Sandpiper 25
Laughing Gull X
Herring Gull 5
Lesser Black-backed Gull 2
Great Black-backed Gull 10
Least Tern 25
Forster's Tern 5
Rock Pigeon 1
Mourning Dove 5
Chimney Swift 2
Eastern Kingbird 2
Blue Jay 2
American Crow 2
Purple Martin 50
Barn Swallow 10
American Robin 5
Gray Catbird 1
Northern Mockingbird 5
Cedar Waxwing 2
Northern Cardinal 2
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Common Grackle 2
American Goldfinch 2
House Sparrow 10

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

CMBO Cape May Point State Park Walk- 7/16/08

The report from today's CMBO Cape May point State Park walk is below. Visiting Cape May in the near future? Looking for a bird walk? Make sure that you check the Naturalist Calendar to see what walks are offered while you visit. For the rest of July and through August CMBO offers almost daily bird walks. In the fall we offer at least one bird walk a day. So you have the ability to bird with one of our knowledgeable Associate Naturalists or a CMBO staff member pretty much any time you are here.

If you are looking to get more in depth field study, try one of our School of Birding Workshops. These workshops are not just limited to birds either.

Looking to get out on the water but not up for the cost of a pelagic trip? Try one of the Back Bay Birding by Boat trips. Trust me, you won't be disappointed that you went on this trip. For one, how often do you really get to see the back bays? Two, shorebirds are moving so who knows what you will find. Three, it's just plain fun! Note that these are pre-registration.

"On the CMBO Cape May Point Walk we found the usual suspects and a few shore birds on the wing. Indigo Buntings were a little more quiet but we did manage to find and view a couple. Also one young pine warbler."

Location: Cape May Point SP
Observation date: 7/16/08
Number of species: 53

Canada Goose 20
Mute Swan 8
Mallard 25
Double-crested Cormorant 1
Great Egret 2
Glossy Ibis 1
Turkey Vulture 7
Osprey 3
Piping Plover 4
Killdeer 5
American Oystercatcher 3
Greater Yellowlegs 1
Least Sandpiper 10
Short-billed Dowitcher 1
Laughing Gull 25
Ring-billed Gull 1
Herring Gull 10
Lesser Black-backed Gull 2
Great Black-backed Gull 40
Least Tern 30
Common Tern 5
Forster's Tern 5
Rock Pigeon 15
Mourning Dove 5
Chimney Swift 3
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 2
Downy Woodpecker 1
Eastern Kingbird 3
White-eyed Vireo 4
American Crow 5
Fish Crow 1
Purple Martin 5
Tree Swallow 2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 2
Barn Swallow 5
Carolina Chickadee 2
Carolina Wren 7
American Robin 8
Gray Catbird 2
Northern Mockingbird 2
European Starling 10
Cedar Waxwing 5
Pine Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 5
Song Sparrow 1
Northern Cardinal 8
Indigo Bunting 3
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Common Grackle 10
Brown-headed Cowbird 2
House Finch 2
American Goldfinch 1
House Sparrow 2
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2

Piping Plover Distraction Display (Video)

video

[We've been seeing Piping Plovers perform distraction displays in front of American Crows at the Cape May Meadows for several weeks now, luring them away from chicks or eggs. This one occurred last Saturday night. In this case, a happy ending was guaranteed - two crows were on top of a plover cage with an active nest containing eggs still inside, but the plover parent didn't know its eggs were safe. A Least Tern mobbing the crows is making the sharp squeaks heard in the background. Digi-scoped video by Don Freiday.]

Meadows News and a Few Rare Bird Reports


[Least Tern chick, Cape May Meadows, Monday 7/14/08. Least Tern chicks are precocial, regulating their own temperature within 48 hours of hatching, often by finding shelter in dune grass. Photo digiscoped by Don Freiday, click to enlarge.]

A few fancy birds continue, plus one or two more that haven't made their way to the web site yet. Some are fancy mainly because they are unseasonal. E.g., the White-winged Scoter appeared off Poverty Beach last Thursday & continues; the Brant first found off St. Mary's on Saturday; and a Pine Siskin that was detected near Davey's Lake, Higbee Beach on Saturday. I had a Marbled Godwit fly over me while fishing near the free bridge to Nummy Island on Sunday.

Monday's CMBO walk at the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge, a.k.a. the Cape May Meadows, detected a Brown Pelican, very scarce this year (I had two more Brown Pelicans while kayking off Norbury's Landing last night). Heron numbers at the Meadows are building, e.g. 10 Black-crowned Night-herons. Nothing much seems to be going on at the rips off Cape May, probably due to continued cold water temperature. A forecast heat wave this week may change that - warm water should mean more baitfish and more birds. A quick check of ebird reveals I had as many as 325 Common Terns in the rips July 4 last year - nothing like that concentration has occurred this summer as far as I know. A number of Bank Swallows were seen around Cape May Point Monday as well. The full list from the Meadows on Monday is below, with more noteworthy birds or counts bold-faced.


[Forster's Tern chick (left) with parent, near fledging, along Grassy Sound channel near Nummy Island on Saturday. We had a fledgling Forster's flying with a parent at the Cape May Meadows on Monday, the first fledged one we've seen, and about on time. Forster's, as far as I know, do not breed on Cape Island. Photo by Don Freiday, click to enlarge.]


Notes: CMBO Monday Meadows Walk
Number of species: 59
Canada Goose 100
Mute Swan 25
Gadwall 4
Mallard 75
Hooded Merganser 1
Brown Pelican 1
Great Egret 5
Snowy Egret 5
Black-crowned Night-Heron 10
Glossy Ibis 40
Black Vulture 1
Turkey Vulture 1
Osprey 3
Piping Plover 10
Killdeer 5
American Oystercatcher 6
Spotted Sandpiper 1
Greater Yellowlegs 5
Lesser Yellowlegs 25
Least Sandpiper 40
Short-billed Dowitcher 25
Laughing Gull X
Ring-billed Gull 2
Herring Gull 20
Lesser Black-backed Gull 7
Great Black-backed Gull 75
Least Tern 20
Common Tern 15
Forster's Tern 10
Royal Tern 5
Black Skimmer 1
Rock Pigeon 2
Mourning Dove 10
Chimney Swift 5
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Eastern Kingbird 1
American Crow 1
Fish Crow 3
Purple Martin 20
Tree Swallow 5
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 5
Bank Swallow 1
Barn Swallow 20
Carolina Wren 5
American Robin 25
Gray Catbird 3
Northern Mockingbird 2
European Starling 10
Cedar Waxwing 10
Common Yellowthroat 5
Song Sparrow 10
Northern Cardinal 10
Blue Grosbeak 1
Indigo Bunting 1
Red-winged Blackbird 30
Common Grackle 10
American Goldfinch 10
House Sparrow 10

Monday, July 14, 2008

News and a photo essay from Champagne Island


[Above: the nesting colony at Champagne Island as it looked last Friday, July 11 2008. The island is accessible only by boat, and most of it is rightly closed to people to protect nesting birds. The best viewing of the colony for the landbound is had by walking to the southern tip of Stone Harbor point when the tide is down, and looking across the channel to Champagne. All photos by Don Freiday; some will enlarge if clicked.]


The Hereford Inlet/Stone Harbor Point/Champagne Island complex is one of the true jewels of our region, something reinforced in my mind after spending last weekend variously boating, kayaking, birding, fishing and photographing there. The crown jewel right now is perhaps Champagne Island, the ephemeral sand island south of Stone Harbor Point that in many years hosts a beach nesting bird colony. Fittingly, Champagne hosted NJ's first successful large scale nesting of Royal Terns last year, with at least 15 young fledging, but perhaps its greater importance is for NJ-endangered Black Skimmers. 700 skimmers fledged from the island last year. The Spring/Summer 2008 New Jersey Audubon magazine chronicled some of the issues facing beach-nesting birds in general and the Champagne situation in particular, as did CMBO's 2008 Peregrine Observer.

The update is that, importantly, the Tidelands Council granted the Division of Fish and Wildlife full management authority over Champagne Island prior to this year's nesting season - up until that action, which was recommended by the excellent staff at NJDEP and actively supported by NJAS/CMBO, legal management rights to the island were tenuous.

Things should have been easier this year for the skimmers and terns, but, don't you know, nature threw a curve ball in the form of a howling May northeaster that leveled much nesting habitat there and elsewhere along the coast. Nonetheless, the colony persists. Below are some photos depicting the current state of things (all photos by Don Freiday, some will enlarge if clicked). I owe special thanks to Mike Fritz for a trip via his boat to Champagne, and especially to biologist Todd Pover and the seasonal beach nesting staff from NJDEP, who I accompanied to the island on Friday and helped with a colony survey.



[Above, a picture's worth a thousand words - Black Skimmers inside the protected area of Champagne Island on Tuesday July 8. ]

[Below, skimmers scrape (kicking sand up to make a depression for nesting), court (male delivering a fish to the female) and copulate, 7/8/08.]





[Below, NJDEP seasonal beach-nesting staff. From back to front: Brooke Maslo, who is also working on her PhD on Piping Plovers; Alfred Breed, who is a nearly continuous educational and enforcement presence on the island (if you've seen the blue sun shelter on the north side of Champagne Island and wondered whose it is, it's Alf's); and Kate Guerena, who works on beachnesters through Conserve Wildlife.]




[Above, one of the signs posted by DEP. Alf tells me there have been few problems with people entering the closed area, and that the local boaters have been largely supportive. Below, one reason why it's so important to keep people and especially dogs away from beach nesting birds - this Laughing Gull managed to get into the colony while the birds were up and swiped a skimmer egg.]


[Below, one consequence of the May northeaster was a great reduction in nesting habitat that is above the high tide line. This sub-colony of skimmers on Champagne Island, which contains over 300 birds, is almost certain to be destroyed by the next full moon high tide, which will be this Saturday. Tide height is greater during the time of full and new moons, even without a storm.]








[Above, a count is made of all the birds within the colony from the outside. 2,002 Black Skimmers were recorded. Below, the birds begin to take flight as we enter the colony to collect data on the number of scrapes, eggs and chicks, working rapidly to minimize the time they are away from their eggs or young. Notice how the larger Royal Terns have taken the high portion of the colony, while the skimmer nests are spread out around them on lower, more flood-prone ground.]



[Above, a Black Skimmer scrape with three eggs. Skimmers normally lay 3-5 eggs. We recorded 985 skimmer scrapes and 368 eggs. Below, some of the Royal Tern scrapes with eggs. Royals virtually always lay one huge egg. We found a startling 108 unhatched Royal Tern eggs and 53 Royal Tern chicks.]



[Below, three different Royal Tern Chicks. Just as the markings on tern eggs are variable, so are the markings on the chicks.]


[Above, largely missing from the Champagne Island colony are Common Terns - 300 Commons fledged from here last year, but with the reduced nesting area and the greatly increased Royal Tern colony there is no room for the Commons. At least some of the Common Terns have moved across Grassy Sound Channel to higher parts of the salt marsh, a habitat that Forster's Terns use for nesting. On Saturday, while kayaking with a friend, I found a colony containing at least 200 Common Terns. It was impossible to count accurately from the kayak, but sure was easy to find - with the terns dive-bombing us and strafing us with droppings! Below, as many as 50 American Oystercatchers have been visible from the base of the free bridge at Nummy Island.]



Sunday, July 13, 2008

Happy Birthday BirdCapeMay.org!


On July 13, 2007 CMBO's new website, www.BirdCapeMay.org, was launched. Since then, BirdCapeMay.org has been visited by people in all 50 U.S. states and from 126 territories / countries around the globe!

In honor of BirdCapeMay.org's one year anniversary the home page has been updated to bear the emblematic Peregrine Falcon that has come to be synonymous with the words "Bird Cape May". A special thank you goes out to Kevin Karlson who captured this amazing image and for allowing us to use it for our website!

There are many excellent resources contained within the pages of this website and I am pleased that so many visitors return time and time again to check out:


BirdCapeMay.org also provides useful information on CMBO's daily walks, programs, Cape May School of Birding workshops, and NJAS annual events such as the World Series of Birding and the Autumn Weekend. Along with tools for spending a day (or two or three or...) in Cape May including a Naturalist Calendar, Places to Eat, Shop, Stay & Play, and local Birding Maps and Checklists.

As we head into Autumn and another full season of migration along the Atlantic seaboard be sure to check in with the daily news and counts from the Hawk Watch, Sea Watch, Morning Flight, and Monarch Monitoring Project under View from the Field: Seasonal Research. We also have a few new surprises in store for you this autumn so be sure to come back and visit BirdCapeMay.org often!

It is with heartfelt thanks and gratitude that I congratulate all of the contributors and visitors, like you, for making BirdCapeMay.org a resounding success.

Enjoy,
Laura Guerard - Manager, Bird Cape May On-line