Friday, January 1, 2010

Cape May CBC: 151 Species + Kittiwakes, Owls

[Some of the flock of 90 Snow Buntings on the dunes at Cape May Point State Park today. Click to enlarge photos.]

The Cape May Christmas Bird Count finished with a rough count, tallied by compiler Louise Zemaitis, of 151 species, universally agreed to be a good total for January, and the highest ever for a Cape May CBC held in that month (since the count, originally postponed due to snow from Dec. 20, has never been held in January before!)

Highlights included great counts of salt sparrows, especially at Nummy Island by Mike Fritz, Tony Leukering et. al. along the causeway during the full moon extra-high high tide; the discovery of the first Cape Island Bald Eagle nest at Hidden Valley by Scott Whittle and Pete Dunne, with the adult eagles seen almost constantly at Cape May Point today; Sandhill Crane "all over the place," including at Villas WMA and over Cape May (same bird); Orange-crowned Warbler and Yellow-breasted Chat found by Mark Garland at Cape May Point State Park; Sora found by Michael O'Brien along the bayshore; 6 (!) Eurasian Wigeons, 3 each of males and females at Lighthouse Pond; Black-headed Gull seen at Cold Spring inlet; and two adult Black-legged Kittiwakes seen flying well off Cape May during CMBO's annual Kick Off Your Year List Field Trip.

Said field trip finished at Jake's Landing, where we enjoyed a brief glimpse of an American Bittern and better views of two Short-eared Owls hunting across Dennis Creek. One perched for a bit on a slender wooden post. An American Woodcock flushed in front of my truck along Jake's Landing Road at the edge of the marsh as I left, and even better, a Northern Saw-whet Owl flew through the headlights, low over the road (as they often are), about half way between the marsh and Route 47. A pair of calling Great-horned Owls at Jake's rounded out the owls at that great raptor location.

Tomorrow is Tom Reed's newly established Mizpah CBC in Atlantic County, with Cumberland CBC on the Sunday. What wonders await!

[Six Tundra Swans continue on Bunker Pond. If their heads are tucked, check tail length, shorter than the more common Mute Swans.]

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