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 period started with the passage of a cold front that brought temperatures down throughout the day 18 Jan. Temps rebounded into the 40s on 19-20 Jan, courtesy of a moderating SW flow. The arrival of arctic air 21 Jan was accompanied by a coastal storm that dumped upwards of a foot of snow just north of Cape May. However, snowfall amounts in the county generally ranged from 0.5-2.0". Bitter cold followed this storm, and temperatures failed to surpass 25ºF through the rest of the period.
Birding Summary/Outlook: Observers submitted sightings of 159 species to eBird during the period 18-24 Jan. The highest diversity day occurred on 19 Jan, when 136 species were reported. Notable birds seen during the past week included Greater White-fronted Goose, Cackling Goose, King Eider, Northern Goshawk, Spotted Sandpiper, Little Gull, White-winged Dove, and Black-capped Chickadee. Long-term forecasts suggest that very cold weather will continue into 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 continued on Cape Island through at least 22 Jan (m. ob.). Sightings this week occurred at Lily Lake and at the pond along Shunpike Road in West Cape May. A Cackling Goose was discovered at Lily Lake 22 Jan (CV) and was seen at the pond along Shunpike Rd 23 Jan. At least two drake Eurasian Wigeons continued at CMPSP through at least 19 Jan (m. ob.), and a drake Blue-winged Teal was last seen at Lily Lake 23 Jan (MP). As many as 20 Redheads persisted at Cox Hall Creek WMA until at least 20 Jan (m. ob.). Nummy Island's two hen King Eiders continued through 24 Jan (m. ob.), almost always under or very near the bridge into Stone Harbor. The aforementioned immature Northern Goshawk made another appearance at CMPSP 21 Jan (TJ). A Rough-legged Hawk was noted during CMBO's winter raptor survey at Tuckahoe WMA 18 Jan (BR, CM).
[King Eiders at Nummy Island, 20 Jan. Photo by Jacob Cuomo.]
SHOREBIRDS THROUGH OWLS
Single Semipalmated Plovers were noted at Miami Ave, Villas 18 Jan (VK, TMi) and at Avalon Manor 24 Jan (SG). A Spotted Sandpiper surprised observers at the Route 47 bridge over Bidwell Creek 20 Jan (MW, DW). A Razorbill, possibly injured, was near Avalon's 8th Street jetty 19 Jan (BA et al.). An adult Little Gull was noted flying south past Sunset Beach 19 Jan (SKa, BH). A nice sum of 85 Forster's Terns were feeding offshore CMP 19 Jan (MO'B). A White-winged Dove continued at CMP near 113 Harvard Avenue until 18 Jan (m. ob.); later sightings are requested. 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 23 Jan (m. ob.). Another Snowy Owl was found on a rooftop along Beach Avenue, Cape May 20 Jan (RC). Short-eared Owls continue to be seen at Jake's Landing on calmer evenings.
[Snowy Owl at Cape May City, 20 Jan. Photo by Mike Pasquarello.]
CHICKADEES THROUGH SPARROWS
As winter wears on, reports of songbirds continue to decrease. Cape May County's fourth Black-capped Chickadee continued at CMP through 22 Jan (m. ob.). Approximately 40-50 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 22 Jan (m. ob.); a Palm Warbler was last reported there 20 Jan (DW, MS). American Tree Sparrows were noted at several locations this week.
Bob Allen, Richard Crossley, Jacob Cuomo, Sam Galick, Mark Garland, Brian Henderson, Tom Johnson, Steve Kacir, Vincent Koczurik, Christina Marks, Thomas Mistele, Michael O'Brien, Mike Pasquarello, Bill Roache, Maria Smith, Christopher Vogel, David Weber, Debbi Webster, Matt Webster.