Friday, October 26, 2018

SO.MANY.SEABIRDS Special Field Trips - Nov. 3 & 17

The fall migration of seabirds along the South Jersey coast is fascinating, inspiring, and sometimes overwhelming, as hundreds of thousands head south to wintering grounds.  Join Program Director Brett Ewald and Associate Naturalists for an afternoon of scoters, gannets, loons, grebes, cormorants, jaegers, and more - a chance to learn about and appreciate these amazing movements.  We'll concentrate our efforts around Stone Harbor and Avalon - taking it all in. This past week has seen a huge increase in the number of migrants with rarities, such as Razorbill, Long-tailed Jaeger, Arctic Tern and Black-legged Kittiwake, mixed in. There are two opportunities to take part: Nov. 3 & Nov. 7 - 1:30-4:30 PM. Hope to see you there!

Preregistration required. $15 members, $20 nonmembers.

Register now at: CMBO Programs



Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Fall 2018 Naturalists and Counters


Here at New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory, we strive to keep our finger on the pulse of migration. It is through the efforts of our dedicated seasonal counters and naturalists that we are able to not only quantify the migration, but also share the wonder and excitement of the birds and butterflies that so enrich our lives. They are the front line and face of the organization when it comes to educating, informing, and carrying out the NJA mission. Please welcome them to the community and spectacle that is Cape May – stop by any of the migration count sites (Cape May Hawkwatch, Avalon Seawatch, Morning Flight, Montclair Hawkwatch) or Monarch tagging demos and experience it for youself. Thanks to Swarovski Optik NA for their substantial and continued support of our staff and projects.



Without further ado, we are pleased to introduce the 2018 crew:



REBECCA PERRUCI – GEORGE MYERS NATURALIST

Rebecca is excited to be part of the New Jersey Audubon community. She has always been fascinated with the animal kingdom and enjoys being out in nature. She pursued these interests with a degree in Zoo and Wildlife Biology from Malone University in Canton, Ohio. Being surrounded by wonderful teachers, mentors, and friends, she couldn’t help but be encouraged in her love for birds and birding. After graduating in 2016, she decided to channel her desire to help birds into the field of zoo-keeping. She worked as a bird keeper at the Gulf Breeze Zoo in Gulf Breeze, Florida, for almost two years. Her time at the zoo helped her discover that what she loves most of all is teaching people about animals and the natural world around them. Rebecca’s goal is to share her love of birds through public education, so as to inspire the next generation of biologists and conservationists. When she’s not out birding—which, admittedly, is most of the time - she can be found trail running, painting and drawing, and spending time with her Yellow-naped Amazon Parrot.





TOM REED – MIGRATION COUNT COORDINATOR

A sixth-generation area resident, Tom Reed is one of few birders who truly call Cape May home. He discovered birds at the age of 10 and was immediately captivated by the spectacle of migration visible from his Reed’s Beach backyard-- be it Red Knots departing for the Arctic on late-May evenings, or Sharp-shinned Hawks bounding along the bayshore treeline after an October cold front. Tom started a hawk migration count along Delaware Bay at the age of 11 and has been actively involved in Cape May’s birding community ever since.



TR has traveled throughout much of North America since graduating from Rutgers University in 2011, with assignments ranging from wintering Piping Plover surveys in the Bahamas, to breeding bird atlas work in Wisconsin, to tour leading in Alaska, and naturally, several fall seasons at Cape May. He has also appeared at various local and national birding events and represented CMBO in Israel’s Champions of the Flyway competition since 2016. Tom is editor of the Cape May Annual Bird Report, sits on the Board of Directors for the Hawk Migration Association of North America, serves as a Regional Editor for eBird, founded and compiles the Mizpah Christmas Bird Count, and is a voting member of the New Jersey Bird Records Committee.



Tom has invested about 10,000 hours monitoring bird migration across all seasons at Cape May and was instrumental in the creation of CMBO’s Migration Count Coordinator position in 2015. Not surprisingly, his favorite birding takes place in wide-open spaces: oceans, grasslands, deserts, marshes, and anywhere visible migration occurs. 



ANDREW DREELIN – MORNING FLIGHT COUNTER

Andrew is an aspiring ornithologist and conservation biologist. He fell in love with birds, birding, and ornithology during his sophomore year in high school. It didn't take long before he went all the way down the rabbit hole (or should it be petrel burrow?) of birding passion, leaving his humid hometown of Columbus, Georgia to pursue an education in ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University in frigid upstate New York. After graduating, Andrew spent the fall of 2017 in Cape May working for NJA as an interpretive naturalist, where he had an absolute wonderful time immersing himself in bird migration and sharing its joys with those around him. 



Andrew is thrilled to be returning to Cape May this fall as the counter for the Morning Flight Songbird Count (“hats off to Glen Davis for his numerous years of service in this role; as he left big shoes to fill!”). This is Andrew’s first time as an official migration counter.  He is both eager and afraid to tackle one of birding's toughest yet most exciting challenges. Although the necessity of the count means that he can't be his normally gregarious self, he welcomes anyone and everyone (regardless of skill level) to visit the Morning Flight count and revel in the splendor of visibly migrating songbirds! Morning flight is a phenomenon of ephemeral abundance, brilliant but fleeting views, and fascinating behavior. The fact that we have so much more to learn about actively migrating birds in Cape May (and across the continent) just makes it that much more captivating! At the end of the day, Andrew has a passion for all of the biodiversity that we share this planet with, and he looks forward to recording the abundance and diversity of the spectacular migrants passing through Cape May while experiencing that magic alongside everyone who comes to visit.





ERIK BRUHNKE – CAPE MAY HAWKWATCH COUNTER

Erik Bruhnke has loved birds since he was a child looking at chickadees. He graduated from Northland College in Wisconsin with a Natural Resources degree in 2008. Erik taught three semesters of field ornithology while attending college. Between 2009 and 2014, he spent his summers conducting field research focused on breeding bird transects in Upper Michigan, point counts for a breeding bird atlas in Minnesota and Wisconsin’s Northwoods, vegetation and breeding bird surveys throughout wind farms in North Dakota’s prairie potholes, and cavity-nesting surveys in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. A devoted raptor nerd, he is drawn to hawkwatches. He worked as an interpreter for six seasons at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth, Minnesota; counted migrating raptors at the Corpus Christi Hawkwatch in Texas in 2015; and was the 2016 and 2017 hawk counter at the Cape May Hawkwatch. Erik’s wildlife photography has won national awards and his writings have been featured in Birder’s Guide via the American Birding Association, BirdWatching, and Birdwatcher’s Digest. Erik leads tours for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours as well as his own business, Naturally Avian Birding Tours. He enjoys kayaking and hiking in his free time and loves to cook and bake given the opportunity. Erik is thrilled to return to Cape May for his third consecutive year of counting the raptor migration!





DAVID WEBER – AVALON SEAWATCH COUNTER

David is a graduate of Cornell University and a South Jersey birder from Newfield, NJ.  He has worked a variety of jobs involving behavioral observations of birds, breeding bird point counts, radar tracking of birds, bird banding, and being a naturalist and guide.  He is most interested in bird migration, abundance, and status and distribution over time and space.  David was the Montclair hawkwatch counter in 2016 and the Avalon seawatch counter in 2017 and is excited to return to CMBO to count hundreds of thousands of seabirds and soak in the spectacle of visible migration in Cape May."




MOLLY JACOBSON – INTERPRETIVE NATURALIST

Molly Jacobson graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2017 with a degree in Wildlife & Conservation Biology and plans to pursue graduate studies in the near future. She has been passionate about nature her whole life, particularly insects and birds, and enjoys any chance to share her curiosity with others. Before coming to Cape May, Molly worked with the nationally threatened piping plover at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Maine, and published research on native pollinator declines with UNH’s Rehan Bee Lab. Enthusiastic about both macrophotography and nature writing, she works to incorporate these into outreach that can help foster appreciation for the natural world and spread awareness of the importance of conservation. In the future, Molly hopes to combine this outreach with fieldwork in order to contribute to the protection and restoration of native ecosystems. 





JERALD REB – INTERPRETIVE NATURALIST

Jerald’s interest in birding began in earnest after receiving a field guide and binoculars for his sixth birthday.  He grew up birding first in his backyard, but it wasn’t long before he branched out to various locations in his home state of Delaware and surrounding areas. His greatest interests in birding have grown to include nocturnal flight calls, morning flight and pelagic birding. More recently, he has begun to pursue interests in other facets of the natural world such as herps, butterflies and dragonflies. Jerald has come to love southern New Jersey after repeated visits over the past decade, especially after working with the Springwatch program for a month this past spring. He is very excited to be working with CMBO as an interpretive naturalist during the fall season!







ADEHL SCHWADERER – INTERPRETIVE NATURALIST

Adehl received her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science with a minor in chemistry in 2017 from Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania. Throughout college, she interned at Fern Hollow Nature Center for several seasons, first as a summer camp intern and then as a college education intern. Adehl assisted with educational programming for students from pre-k to high school age, along with ongoing salamander research and environmental testing. Working for this organization is how she realized her passion for environmental education. She spent two seasons at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, her first in 2016 as a summer Education Intern assisting with educational programs and hikes. She spent her second season in the fall of 2017 as a Conservation Science Trainee assisting with fall migration counts and programs, as well as conducting a movement ecology study focused on black vultures in the Kempton Valley. Through these two experiences, Adehl became interested in raptor conservation and birdwatching. She recently completed an education internship at Shaver's Creek Environmental Center in State College, PA, creating and implementing programming, as well as working in their raptor center. She is very much looking forward to joining the CMBO Team this fall!






LINDSEY CATHCART – MONARCH FIELD NATURALIST

Lindsey Cathcart is a recent graduate of the University of Delaware with a degree in Insect Ecology and Conservation. In her undergraduate career, she worked on a study examining the pollination ecology of various native flowering plants. After conducting research at Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, DE, she completed a senior thesis specifically investigating the quality of native Hydrangeas as food sources for pollinators. Most recently, she has worked as an entomology intern at Stroud Water Research Center in Avondale PA, identifying freshwater benthic macroinvertebrates for their usage in assessing water quality. She is very excited to join the New Jersey Audubon team in Cape May this fall as an intern on the Monarch monitoring project and contribute to such a significant area of research. She hopes to attend graduate school in the future and is looking forward to the opportunity to grow as a scientist and continue to pursue her passion for entomology.





SARAH CROSBY – MONARCH FIELD NATURALIST

Sarah graduated from Rutgers University in 2018 with a degree in Philosophy and Environmental Studies. She grew up in Ringwood, NJ, hiking, swimming and camping, and developing her love for the natural world. While in middle school, Sarah began volunteering at the former Weis Ecology Center as a Jr. Counselor. When the New Weis Center reopened, she returned as a field trip educator and head camp counselor. Her love of nature really began to blossom after a dendrology course in college, where she began to understand the entire ecology of an area and the importance of biodiversity. Since then, Sarah has been interested in native plant conservation and restoration ecology. She looks forward to working with the Monarch Monitoring Project to help make an impact on these locally endangered pollinators, while getting to help educate the community about this important mission!







LIAM HART – MONTCLAIR HAWKWATCH COUNTER

Liam grew up in Haverford, Pennsylvania. As a kid, he became fascinated by raptors upon learning about the awe-inspiring speed of the Peregrine Falcon. Growing up within driving distance of Hawk Mountain and Cape May gave him the opportunity to learn about hawk migration at some of the country’s most important count sites. After studying history at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, Liam served as a Natural History Guide at Mass Audubon’s Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Center and Wildlife Sanctuary. He also provided educational trail hikes and organized public programs as a staff member at Summer Star Wildlife Sanctuary in Boylston, MA. During his time in Massachusetts, Liam was a volunteer with Eastern Mass Hawk Watch and called Mt. Wachusett his primary hawkwatch during Fall migrations. He is now based in the Philadelphia area and is excited to work the Montclair Hawkwatch this season.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Daily roundup – September 12, 2018



[Morning view from the Cape May Hawkwatch, 
with visibility under a quarter mile. Photo © Tom Reed.]

Weather: Dense fog dominated the first half of the day, with gradual clearing and plenty of sun (temps reaching well into the 80s) during the afternoon. Scattered thunderstorms also formed during the afternoon, and while most stayed well inland, one affected the northwest corner of the peninsula. Winds were again light from the east/southeast and a trace of rainfall was recorded at West Cape May.

Migration counts: Morning Flight (0623-0838), Hawkwatch (0700-1700) 

Birding summary: A predictably quiet day, but a few highlights included 2 Gull-billed Terns that spent time around Cape May Pt. State Park, a Sora at the South Cape May Meadows, fair numbers of songbird migrants along the State Park trails, a small pulse of Osprey and Peregrines that moved past Cape May Point during the mid-afternoon, and several Common Nighthawks around Cape Island during the evening.

Additional information:
CMBO Twitter feed (@cmbobirds)

The Best of Migration - Cape May School of Birding Workshops!


Cape May is world renowned for its fall bird and butterfly migration, involving spectacular numbers, diversity, views, and photographic opportunities - and Cape May School of Birding Workshops are an incredible way to enjoy and partake in this natural phenomenon. And the best part is – it’s all going to unfold over the next couple months! From our cadre of in-depth birding excursions to a celebration of Monarchs or bird photography, you’re sure to find an offering that catches your eye. All of our workshops are led by experts in their field: world-class birders and naturalists that have often written the guides we all rely on (Pete Dunne, Michael O'Brien, Mark Garland, Louise Zemaitis, Scott Whittle). Our intimate approach to enjoyment and teaching will provide the opportunity and information you need to grow in understanding and appreciation.

While the majority of time is spent in the field watching birds and nature, some of the workshops will incorporate an indoor session – a chance to demonstrate and discuss identification, techniques, conservation, and ecology. Along the way, you’ll meet like-minded people and are sure to form lasting memories and friendships. From beginner to advanced, all are welcome! All the while, your registration fees are helping support the mission of New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory (and NJA and CMBO members receive a 25% discount!).

Below you’ll find a listing with short descriptions for our upcoming schedule. You can register and get more details at our registration site, so reserve your spot today for an incredible experience!!! Register now at: Cape May School of Birding

FALCON FEST AND HAWKS ON HIGH with Pete Dunne
American Kestrel photo by Erik Bruhnke
September 29 & 30

Bird Cape May at the peak time for raptor diversity, with experts who know identification tips unavailable anywhere else! This workshop will be "just birding," no indoor workshop time (unless severe weather dictates otherwise) at the prime time to be in Cape May.  Expect many falcons (including Peregrines), plus accipiters, buteos, harriers, ospreys and eagles. Though our aim will be to study and appreciate the sometimes spectacular passage of falcon species through Cape May at this time of year, we shall be in a prime location to enjoy other migrants too and, depending on the conditions, we may also seek shorebirds, late warblers, early sparrows, and more.

THINGS THAT GO SEEP IN THE NIGHT with Michael O'Brien
September 29 & 30

Experience the cutting edge of birding! Birds don't sing much in the fall-but they sure do call. Chip notes, flight notes, and critical listening are the primary subjects of this workshop, led by the man who wrote the book (well, maybe the CD-ROM) on flight calls. Two hours with Michael equals years of struggle on your own! Includes optional night-time listening for nocturnal migrants. Learn to dissect a single note, determining whether it rises or falls, is clear or burry. You will never listen the same way again. This workshop is spread over two half-days to allow us to be in the field at the best time of day; it includes an afternoon session, evening session to study nocturnal migrants, followed by an early morning listening session the next day - the perfect way to learn the subject!
Monarchs on Seaside Goldenrod

MONARCHS ON MIGRATION with Mark Garland
October 2

Learn about the biology of the monarch butterfly and spend a day in the field with the Director of the CMBO Monarch Monitoring Project.  Visit gardens and other natural areas around Cape May Point to watch monarch behavior and see the principles of butterfly gardening in action.  Learn how to safely handle and tag monarchs, and also learn methods for conducting field research into these migratory insects.  Visit the CMBO Northwood Center to see the terraria where monarch caterpillars and chrysalides are on display, and learn about the proper husbandry of such displays.  We will take time to identify many other butterflies that can be found at this season in Cape May Point, and we’ll identify a few of the migrant birds that are sure to be around, but the primary focus will be on monarch biology all day.

SPARROW SAMPLER with Michael O'Brien
October 13 & 14

A workshop celebrating the ‘LBJs’ (little brown jobs). Subtle and cryptic they might be; difficult to identify they are not, providing you have the right instructor, the right place and the right time. A time when lots of sparrows and lots of species abound. Common species like Swamp, Field, Savannah and Chipping. Uncommon ones like Clay-colored, Vesper, Lincoln’s, Nelson’s and Saltmarsh. Learn the basics of size, shape and behavior first, then practice examining plumage patterns to discover how stunning sparrows can be.

CAPE MAY WITH EVERYTHING ON IT with Louise Zemaitis
October 15 & 16

Mid-October is the time the local birders wait for; crowds have diminished and the most massive fallouts of the season commonly occur NOW!  Sparrows, kinglets, bluebirds, American Robin, Hermit Thrush, and literally who knows what else, since this week starts the season for vagrants in Cape May.  It's also a great time for big raptors like buteos and Golden Eagle, while early seabird flights pass Avalon and Cape May Point nearly every day.
Prairie Warbler photo by Clay Taylor

HAWKS IN FLIGHT with Pete Dunne
October 17 & 18

At fifteen raptor species, this is the time of peak raptor diversity in Cape May. Perhaps including bonus birds like Golden Eagles and Swainson's Hawk!  It is a rare moment during late October in Cape May when something raptorial is not in view. Learn how to tell buteos from accipiters from falcons from  eagles at the very edge of eyesight.  Pete Dunne co-wrote the book that is the title of this workshop, and the only thing he enjoys more than watching hawks is imparting the knowledge he has accumulated during his 15,000 hawk watching hours.

PHOTOBIRDING with Scott Whittle
October 22 & 23

Accelerate your bird identification skills while learning how to photograph birds in Cape May.  Photography can be an excellent tool for identification, as well as a way to convey the beauty of our experiences in the natural world.  Professional photographer Scott Whittle will help you move toward your photographic goals in this workshop, with a focus on using the camera to look more closely at what we see.

Black Scoter photo by Michael Kilpatrick


Monday, September 10, 2018

Daily roundup – September 10, 2018



[Black Skimmers at Cape May Point this morning; 160+ exited Delaware Bay during the early AM as storm conditions waned. Photo © Erik Bruhnke.]

Weather: We finally started to say goodbye to the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon, which gradually pulled away from the area through the day. A warm front also approached from the south. Skies were again largely overcast with light to moderate east winds and occasional showers; about 0.2” of rain was recorded at West Cape May as of 10:00pm. The weakening onshore flow allowed temps to sneak into the 70s during the afternoon.   

Migration counts: Morning Flight (0622-0837), Hawkwatch (0630-1700)  


[Red-necked Phalarope at the Higbee dike. Photo © Vince Elia.]


Birding summary: One last day of storm birding (for now), with highlights that included a Red-necked Phalarope and Buff-breasted Sandpiper atop the Higbee dike, single Roseate Terns at Cape May Point and 2nd Ave beach (Cape May City), 2 Hudsonian Godwits and 2+ American Golden-Plovers at Cape May Airport (with 1 of each flying past the Higbee dike), and 32 Parasitic Jaegers exiting Delaware Bay past Cape May Point during the AM. At present (10:30pm) there are some nocturnal migrants moving in the mist, including some thrushes and herons.

Additional information:
CMBO Twitter feed (@cmbobirds)

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Daily roundup – September 9, 2018



[Parasitic Jaeger chasing a Manx Shearwater at 
Cape May Point this afternoon. Photo © Erik Bruhnke.]


Weather: A stationary frontal boundary, combined with the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon, again affected the area throughout the day. Skies were overcast with increasing east/northeast winds and periods of moderate to heavy rainfall; about 0.75” of rain was recorded at West Cape May as of 8:00pm. Temps hovered in the mid 60s through much of the day.  

Migration counts: Morning Flight (0621-0836), Hawkwatch (0630-1600)  

 [Peregrine Falcon at Cape May Point 
this afternoon. Photo © Erik Bruhnke.]

Birding summary: It was yet another day dominated by shorebirds and seawatching. Highlights included 2 Manx Shearwaters off Cape May Point during the afternoon, a Cory’s Shearwater that flew west past Cape May City at 11:10am, a White-winged Dove that flew south past the Higbee dike, multiple small flocks of Hudsonian Godwits that flew past Cape Island, and a minimum of 5 Roseate Terns between 2nd Ave (Cape May City) and St. Mary’s (Cape May Pt.) during the late afternoon. The sod fields along Corsons Tavern Rd (South Seaville) produced singles of Buff-breasted Sandpiper and American Golden-Plover this morning, while an additional Golden-Plover was noted at the Cape May Airport. 

 [Hudsonian Godwits flying past Cape May Point 
this afternoon. Photo © Erik Bruhnke.]


Additional information:
CMBO Twitter feed (@cmbobirds)

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Daily roundup – September 8, 2018



 [American Avocet at the Ocean Drive toll bridge. Photo © Vince Elia.]


Weather: A stationary frontal boundary, enhanced by the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon, affected the area throughout the day. Skies were overcast with east/northeast winds and periods of moderate rainfall; about a half inch of rain was recorded at West Cape May. Temps remained in the 70s/upper 60s.

Migration counts: Morning Flight (0620-0835), Hawkwatch (0630-1730)  

 [Hudsonian Godwit flying past the Hawkwatch. Photo © Erik Bruhnke.]


Birding summary: It was a day dominated by shorebirds and seawatching. Highlights included a Manx Shearwater that flew past 2nd Ave beach at 1:55pm, an American Avocet that took up residence near the Ocean Drive bridge during the mid AM, an adult White Ibis that flew northwest past the Hawkwatch, a Hudsonian Godwit that flew past the Hawkwatch, and a flock of 8 Hudsonian Godwits that flew past 2nd Ave beach. Black Terns have been hard to find this season, but one flew past 2nd Ave beach and 3 flew south past the north end of Avalon. Tuckahoe again checked in with some noteworthy shorebirds this afternoon, including 5 American Golden-Plovers and a Buff-breasted Sandpiper.

Additional information:
CMBO Twitter feed (@cmbobirds)