Friday, January 31, 2014

Week in review: 25 – 31 January, 2014

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 can be emailed to compiler Tom Reed (coturnicops at gmail dot com).


Weather: The period opened with seasonably cool and tranquil conditions 25-26 Jan. Daytime highs fell just short of 50ºF on 27 Jan, but another blast of cold air arrived 28 Jan, accompanied by snow during the 28-29 Jan overnight hours. Snowfall totals in Cape May County generally ranged from 4-7". Bitter cold followed on 29 Jan, with high temps struggling to surpass 20ºF. By sunrise on 30 Jan, temperatures fell to 0ºF or lower in many locations. A gradual warming trend followed, with seasonable and tranquil conditions returning to close out the week.
Birding Summary/Outlook: Observers submitted sightings of 145 species to eBird during the period 25-31 Jan. The best diversity day occurred on 25 Jan, when 107 species were reported. "Bird Of The Week" honors undoubtedly go to the Smith's Longspur discovered at SHPt on 26 Jan-- the second county record, and third state record. Other notable birds included Greater White-fronted Goose, King Eider, Northern Goshawk, Black-headed Gull, Snowy Owl, and Black-capped Chickadee. Given the current snow cover, observers should be on the lookout for sparrows, American Woodcock, and other species that might concentrate in snow-free patches. It's also (believe it or not) not too early to start thinking about spring migration-- the first northbound Northern Pintails are possible anytime now.

Location Abbreviations: CMP (Cape May Point), CMPSP (Cape May Pt. State Park), SHPt (Stone Harbor Point), WCM (West Cape May)

A Greater White-fronted Goose continued on Cape Island through at least 28 Jan (m. ob.). Sightings this week occurred at Lily Lake and at the pond along Shunpike Road, WCM. Two Tundra Swans stopped off at CMPSP 26-27 Jan (m. ob.). There were no reports of Eurasian Wigeon or Blue-winged Teal for the first time this winter. A flock of 8 Canvasbacks flew past CMP 28 Jan (MBr). Several Redheads held on at CMPSP through the week (m. ob.). Nummy Island's two hen King Eiders continued through 30 Jan, usually under or very near the bridge into Stone Harbor, but also near the south bridge on at least one occasion (m. ob.). As might be expected given the cold weather, Red-necked Grebes were noted this week at St. Pete's, CMP 27 Jan (SGl) and Nummy Island 27-28 Jan (SGl, m. ob.). Three American Bitterns were dug up at SHPt 26 Jan (VE, m. ob.). A Northern Goshawk made another appearance at CMPSP 25 Jan, while a Rough-legged Hawk remained at Tuckahoe WMA 27 Jan (SGa). 

[Snowy Owl at CMPSP, 31 Jan. Photo by Mike Pasquarello.]

Western Sandpipers continued to be rather scarce, with this week's only report consisting of a single at SHPt 26 Jan (HT). A Black-legged Kittiwake at Sunset Beach 25 Jan was one of very few seen from shore this winter (GD, SGa). A Lesser Black-backed Gull appeared at CMP 30 Jan (VE), while a Black-headed Gull flew south past Higbee Beach 31 Jan (SGa). Two long-staying Eurasian Collared-Doves remained at CMP, most often in the area of Harvard/Coral/Lincoln Avenues (m. ob.). SHPt continued to host one or two Snowy Owls as of 28 Jan (m. ob.). Additional Snowy Owls were found near Poverty Beach 25-26 Jan (m. ob.), and near the second dune crossover at CMPSP 31 Jan (WC et al.). Short-eared Owls continued to show at Jake's Landing on nicer evenings. Three Short-eareds were a neat find at Nummy Island 28 Jan (JAC), and one was seen at SHPt 30 Jan (BR). 

[Smith's Longspur at SHPt, 30 Jan. Photo by Tom Reed.]
Songbird numbers and diversity took yet another hit this week, though there were some surprises. The Black-capped Chickadee remained at CMP through at least 26 Jan (m. ob.). Cape May County's second Smith's Longspur was a startling find at SHPt 26 Jan (HT). It was re-found 29 Jan (MBi, WK), and continued through 31 Jan (m. ob.). As many as four Lapland Longspurs and multiple Snow Buntings were also encountered at SHPt this week (m. ob.). Orange-crowned Warbler went unreported; a Palm Warbler lingered at Jake's Landing 26 Jan (SGa). A Vesper Sparrow and an American Tree Sparrow were noted on private property at WCM 25 Jan (MP). An impressive 50 "Ipswich" Savannah Sparrows covered the dunes at SHPt 30 Jan (RC, TR). Fox Sparrows also piled up during the cold weather. At least 29 foraged on the CMPSP lawn 25 Jan (TJ), while 54 were tallied throughout CMP the same day (SGa). Purple Finch remained largely absent, with most reports entailing single birds at backyard feeders, such as one at WCM 26 Jan (MG). 


Jim Austin-Cole (JAC), Mike Bisignano (MBi), Michael Britt (MBr), Warren Cairo (WC), Richard Crossley (RC), Glen Davis (GD), Vince Elia (VE), Sam Galick (SGa), Steven Glynn (SGl), Mark Garland (MG), Tom Johnson (TJ), Will Kerling (WK), Mike Pasquarello (MP), Tom Reed (TR), Brandon Reo (BR), Harvey Tomlinson (HT)