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. Information and photos that may be of use for weekly summaries should be emailed to compiler Tom Reed (coturnicops at gmail dot com).
Location Abbreviations: CMP (town of Cape May Point), CMPSP (Cape May Point State Park).
Weather: The week began with strong southerly winds that resulted in very mild and foggy conditions (60ºF on 11 Jan). These conditions were quickly ushered away by a cold front that produced sunny skies and a brisk westerly breeze 12 Jan. Winds shifted to the south again 13 Jan with continued sunny skies, though overcast conditions eventually took over by early morning 14 Jan. A light onshore flow developed by 15 Jan, coupled with very foggy conditions that continued for the better part of 24 hours. Another weak frontal passage resulted in light NW winds during 16 Jan, with stubborn overcast hanging on for most of the day. Southerly winds closed out the period, as temperatures reached nearly 50ºF on 17 Jan with ample sunshine.
Birding Summary/Outlook: Observers submitted sightings of 157 species to eBird during the period 11-17 Jan. The highest diversity day occurred on 15 Jan, when 127 species were reported. Notable birds during the past week included Greater White-fronted Goose, King Eider, Northern Goshawk, Yellow Rail, Long-billed Dowitcher, Black-headed Gull, White-winged Dove, Snowy Owl, Black-capped Chickadee, and Painted Bunting. Long-term forecasts suggest that another episode of very cold weather will arrive next week. Observers should again be on the lookout for species that might arrive from points north-- including Common Merganser and other generally scarce waterfowl, Red-necked Grebe, Rough-legged Hawk, white-winged gulls, American Tree Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, and others.
WATERFOWL THROUGH RAPTORS
A Greater White-fronted Goose was discovered in the Beanery fields along Bayshore Road 11 Jan, and was seen again 17 Jan (TB, VE, m. ob.). At least one drake Eurasian Wigeon continued at CMPSP through 17 Jan (MG, m. ob.), and a drake Blue-winged Teal also continued there through 17 Jan (KL, m. ob.). A nice tally of 16 Redheads was obtained at Cox Hall Creek WMA 12 Jan (KH, RH et al.), and 17 were reported there 14 Jan (WC). Nummy Island's two hen King Eiders continued through 17 Jan (m. ob.), almost always under or very near the bridge into Stone Harbor. Single Common Mergansers were noted at High's Beach 13 Jan (WK) and at Champlain Drive, Villas 14 Jan (WC). A stealthy immature Northern Goshawk made another appearance at CMPSP 17 Jan (MP).
[Greater White-fronted Goose at the Beanery, 11 Jan. Photo by Michael O'Brien.]
RAILS THROUGH TERNS
A Yellow Rail was a wonderful find in the marsh along Bay Avenue near Corson's Inlet State Park 17 Jan (MW et al.). Four Semipalmated Plovers were roosting atop Avalon's 8th Street jetty 14-15 Jan (MP). A Long-billed Dowitcher continued along Cox Hall Creek where it meets Clubhouse Drive in Townbank, with sightings through 15 Jan (JD, m. ob.). A Razorbill was seen on Delaware Bay during a ferry crossing 11 Jan (CH, TR). Another Razorbill flew north past Sunset Beach 12 Jan (CH). An adult Black-headed Gull was seen on the flats near Miami Avenue, Villas 13 Jan and continued through 17 Jan (CV, m. ob.). This is potentially the same individual seen in this area during mid-Nov. A small flock of Forster's Terns persisted along the lower Delaware Bayshore, most often seen in the area of Miami Avenue and Norbury's Landing (m. ob.).
DOVES THROUGH FLYCATCHERS
A White-winged Dove continued at CMP near 113 Harvard Avenue through 17 Jan (m. ob.). Two long-staying Eurasian Collared-Doves also remained in the same area (m. ob.). Stone Harbor Point continued to host one or two Snowy Owls, with the latest report 17 Jan (m. ob.). Snowy Owls were also noted at the north end of Ocean City 14 Jan (NL) and at 2nd Avenue, Cape May 16 Jan (m. ob.). A Barn Owl made its presence known over Reed's Beach 14 Jan (TR). Short-eared Owls have become a regular sight at Jake's Landing during recent evenings, with a maximum of 4 on 15 Jan (MO'B). Another Short-eared Owl was seen at the Magnesite Plant 12 Jan (MP). Single American Kestrels were noted along Route 47 in Goshen 17 Jan (TR), Route 9 in Ocean View 17 Jan (MW et al.), North Wildwood Boulevard 16 Jan (TR), and Stevens Street/Bayshore Road in West Cape May on several dates (m. ob.). As many as 8 Merlins continued to be found most evenings in the area of the Magnesite Plant along Sunset Boulevard (m. ob.). Eastern Phoebes survived at Cresse Lane, Erma through 12 Jan (WC, CB), High's Beach through 15 Jan (WK), and CMPSP through 17 Jan (MP).
[Snowy Owl at Cape May, 16 Jan. Photo by Michael O'Brien.]
[Short-eared Owl at the Magnesite Plant, 12 Jan. Photo by Mike Pasquarello.]
SWALLOWS THROUGH BUNTINGS
Tree Swallow was last reported at West Cape May 12 Jan (MO'B et al.). Cape May County's fourth Black-capped Chickadee continued to visit a feeder at 102 Lincoln Avenue, CMP through 17 Jan (m. ob.). Approximately 50 Snow Buntings continued to take up residence at Stone Harbor Point all week (m. ob.). At least one Orange-crowned Warbler lingered at CMPSP through 17 Jan (m. ob.), while two Palm Warblers continued at the end of Jake's Landing Road through 17 Jan (m. ob.). An American Tree Sparrow was seen along Bunker Pond at CMPSP 15 and 17 Jan (MP et al.). Another Tree Sparrow was photographed at Del Haven 17 Jan (HT). A Vesper Sparrow was a nice surprise at CMPSP 13 Jan (KL). CMP's Painted Bunting was last reported in the dunes at Coral Avenue 15 Jan (m. ob.).
Tom Baxter, Claudia Burns, Warren Cairo, Jim Dowdell, Vince Elia, Mark Garland, Chris Hajduk, Kathy Horn, Roger Horn, Will Kerling, Nancy Larrabee, Karl Lukens, Christina Marks, Michael O'Brien, Mike Pasquarello, Tom Reed, Harvey Tomlinson, Christopher Vogel, Matt Webster.