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 Pt. State Park), SCMM (South Cape May
Meadows), Tuckahoe (Cape May Co. portion of Tuckahoe/MacNamara WMA).
Weather: The week began with mild conditions. High temperatures 28 Dec reached 55ºF across the county, and this was followed by highs near 60ºF the following day. Sunday also featured an inch of rainfall and strong southerly winds ahead of clearing skies and a return to average temperatures 30 Dec-1 Jan. An onshore flow developed along with increasing clouds on 2 Jan, ahead of a winter storm that produced 6-10" of snow throughout the county during the overnight 2-3 Jan. The final day of the period featured temperatures that struggled to reach 20ºF, coupled with strong NW winds that made it feel like 0ºF.
WATERFOWL THROUGH RAPTORS
Some 33 species of waterfowl were recorded during the past week. Seven Greater White-fronted Geese were located at Lily Lake, CMP 3 Jan (AL, JL, m. ob.). Four Tundra Swans were roosting on the ice at Tuckahoe, a traditional location, 1 Jan (TR). At least two Eurasian Wigeon continued at CMPSP/SCMM through 3 Jan (m. ob.). Lingering Blue-winged Teal were detected at CMPSP (m. ob.) and at the Champlain Drive pond (Villas) 2 Jan (SG). As many as six Redheads were present on Lighthouse Pond, CMPSP in recent days (M'OB, m. ob.). Two hen King Eiders, present since 26 Nov, continued throughout the period at the Nummy Island free bridge (m. ob.). Two drake Harlequin Ducks were found at the mouth of Cold Spring Inlet 2 Jan (JA). A late Brown Pelican was photographed flying south past Two Mile Beach 2 Jan (SG). Reports of lingering herons have been scarce, though a single Tricolored Heron was glimpsed at 2nd Avenue, Sea Isle City 28 Dec (MW, DW). A stealthy Northern Goshawk was reported multiple times from CMPSP (m. ob.). A Rough-legged Hawk and a Golden Eagle were viewed from Tuckahoe 1 Jan (TR).
RAILS THROUGH TERNS
Both Clapper and Virginia Rails continued in fair numbers throughout proper habitat, though it will be interesting to see how the recent colder weather affects both species. At least 60 American Oysercatchers were wintering in Hereford Inlet as of 2 Jan (m. ob.). A trio of Semipalmated Plovers persisted at Stone Harbor Point 1 Jan (m. ob.), while a hardy Lesser Yellowlegs was noted at Jake's Landing 1 Jan (TR). Western Sandpipers have not been numerous this winter, but several were noted at Stone Harbor Point (m. ob.) and Reed's Beach (TR, JN) 1 Jan. Numerous American Woodcock were found in snow-free patches on Cape Island 3 Jan (m. ob.). A Parasitic Jaeger exited Delaware Bay during the morning of 30 Dec (M'OB, SG). Strong southerly winds may have been responsible for five Razorbills and one Dovekie seen from the Cape May-Lewes Ferry 29 Dec (M'OB); 20+ Razorbills were viewed from Two Mile Beach 2 Jan (SG, MP). Small numbers of Forster's Terns appeared along the lower Delaware Bay shoreline 29-30 Dec (m. ob.), and a few continued to be seen from Villas' Miami Ave. beach 2 Jan (m. ob.).
DOVES THROUGH FLYCATCHERS
A White-winged Dove at 113 Harvard Ave, CMP continued throughout the week (m. ob.). Two Eurasian Collared-Doves also continued in CMP (m. ob.). A remarkable irruption of Snowy Owls continued to grab headlines throughout the week, with sightings at Strathmere, Stone Harbor Point, Two Mile Beach, Cape May Point, North Cape May, and Reed's Beach. Three Short-eared Owls were tallied at Jake's Landing 3 Jan (AL, JL). Many birders continued to enjoy the Rufous Hummingbird coming to a feeder at the corner of Coral & Cambridge Avenues in CMP, while a Ruby-throated Hummingbird survived at another feeder on Cape Island through at least 2 Jan (m. ob.). Two Western Kingbirds remained at the Cresse Lane field/vineyard in Erma through 3 Jan (m. ob.), while an Ash-throated Flycatcher was identified at CMPSP 31 Dec and seen again 1 Jan (m. ob.). Lingering Eastern Phoebes continued to take up residence at Cresse Lane and CMPSP (m. ob.).
VIREOS THROUGH FINCHES
Always a good find in winter, a Blue-headed Vireo was discovered at CMPSP 1 Jan (SW). Snow Buntings continued to be found at CMPSP, Two Mile Beach, and Stone Harbor Point (m. ob.). At least three Orange-crowned Warblers could be
found at CMPSP through 3 Jan (m. ob.), and a Nashville Warbler remained at CMPSP through 1 Jan (TR). Two 'Western' Palm Warblers were a bit unusual at Jake's Landing 1 Jan (TR). American Tree Sparrow is a scarce species on Cape Island, so sightings at CMPSP on 1 Jan (SG) and 3 Jan (m. ob.). were notable. A Nelson's Sparrow was noted during high tide at Jake's Landing 1 Jan (TR). West Cape May's Blue Grosbeak made it through at least 1 Jan (TM, KA). A Painted Bunting was an outstanding find in the dunes near Whilden Ave, CMP 1 Jan (SB, BB). It was found again at the same location 3 Jan (CV).
Jesse Amesbury, Kate Atkins, Bob Brown, Stephanie Brown, Mike Crewe, Sam
Galick, Will Kerling, Alex Lamoreaux, Josh Lefever, Tom Magarian, Josh Nemeth, Michael O'Brien, Mike Pasquarello, Tom Reed, Christopher Vogel, Debbi Webster, Matt Webster, Sam Wilson.