Friday, January 10, 2014

Week in review: 4 – 10 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 should be emailed to compiler Tom Reed (coturnicops at gmail dot com). 

Location Abbreviations: CMP (town of Cape May Point), Tuckahoe (Cape May Co. portion of Tuckahoe/MacNamara WMA). 

Weather: The week began with seasonably cool conditions on 4 Jan. A developing southerly flow allowed for high temperatures to rise into the mid 50s on 5 Jan. Temperatures remained in the 50s through the overnight of 5-6 Jan, accompanied by gusty S/SE winds. An arctic cold front, preceded by a quarter-inch of rain, passed through Cape May during the mid-morning 6 Jan. Its accompanying cold air reduced temperatures approximately 20 degrees by sunset. By sunrise on 7 Jan temps ranged from 5-10ºF, nearly breaking records at local weather stations. Bitter cold remained in place over the next two days, with temperatures finally rising above freezing again on 9 Jan. Temperatures moderated into the 40s by midday 10 Jan, on the leading edge of an approaching warm front that provided steady light rain through much of the day.

Birding Summary/Outlook: Observers submitted sightings of 167 species to eBird during the period 4-10 Jan. The highest diversity day occurred on 5 Jan, when 138 species were reported. Notable birds during the past week included Greater White-fronted Goose, Ross's Goose, Golden Eagle, Purple Gallinule, Spotted Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, Dovekie, White-winged Dove, Black-capped Chickadee, and Painted Bunting. Given the recent cold snap, observers should be on the lookout this upcoming week for species that might arrive from points north-- including Common Merganser, Red-necked Grebe, Rough-legged Hawk, white-winged gulls, American Tree Sparrow, and others.

It was another excellent week for waterfowl. Highlights included 5 Greater White-fronted Geese that continued at Lily Lake and the Beanery through at least 5 Jan (m. ob.).  A Ross's Goose was hiding in a flock of 2,500 Snow Geese at Reed's Beach 7 Jan (TR). Redheads were reported from Lily Lake (m. ob.)., Cox Hall Creek WMA (DF), and at 104th Street in Stone Harbor (JA). Nummy Island's two hen King Eiders also continued through 10 Jan (m. ob.). Common Mergansers appeared at a few locations after the arrival of arctic air 6-8 Jan. Also likely related to the cold snap, single Red-necked Grebes were noted at Nummy Island 8 Jan (DF) and at the Avalon Seawatch 10 Jan (TB). Two Tricolored Herons were seen in the Ocean Drive marshes between Cape May and Wildwood Crest 5 Jan (MW et al.). A Golden Eagle was again noted in the marshes east of Tuckahoe 9 Jan (VE, CM). A light-morph Rough-legged Hawk was seen from Reed's Beach 9 Jan (TR).

Clapper Rails are still holding strong in the bayshore marshes. An immature Purple Gallinule was discovered dead on Route 9 in Clermont 9 Jan (HT, fide MC). A Spotted Sandpiper continued at Townbank through at least 6 Jan, along Cox Hall Creek where it crosses Clubhouse Drive (m. ob.). A Long-billed Dowitcher was also noted at this location 5 Jan (JD, VR, m. ob.). Strong southerly winds during the overnight hours 5-6 Jan likely produced a small influx of alcids into Delaware Bay. A Dovekie and 26 Razorbills were tallied from Sunset Beach during the morning of 6 Jan (TR, m. ob.). An Iceland Gull flew past observers at Nummy Island 5 Jan (TM, KA). Forster's Terns were last noted 6 Jan (m. ob.), likely pushed out by the cold weather.

[Spotted Sandpiper at Townbank, 5 Jan. Photo by Tom Reed.]

The White-winged Dove continued at CMP near 113 Harvard Avenue through at least 9 Jan (m. ob.). At least two Eurasian Collared-Doves also remain in the same area. Snowy Owl reports were reduced this week, but included at least one individual at Stone Harbor Point through 8 Jan (m. ob.). A Northern Saw-whet Owl was heard at Reed's Beach 8 Jan (TR). It appears that both of the locally wintering hummingbirds didn't make it through the cold snap. The Rufous Hummingbird was last reported 6 Jan, while the Ruby-throated Hummingbird was last reported 4 Jan  (m. ob.). Multiple Merlins can be found most evenings in the area of the Magnesite Plant along Sunset Boulevard (m. ob.). The two Western Kingbirds at the Cresse Lane field/vineyard in Erma were last reported 4 Jan (AC).

[Rufous Hummingbird at CMP, 4 Jan. Photo by Michael O'Brien.]

A few Tree Swallows remained at Cape May Point until 5 Jan (m. ob.). Cape May County's fourth Black-capped Chickadee was discovered coming to a feeder at 102 Lincoln Avenue, CMP 5 Jan (MO'B, LZ, m. ob.). It continued at the same location through 10 Jan (m. ob.). A flock of 26 American Pipits flew over Reed's Beach 6 Jan (TR), and slightly higher numbers were noted throughout after the passage of the arctic front. CMP's Painted Bunting was last reported in the dunes at Whilldin Avenue 7 Jan (m. ob.). A strong total of 80 Eastern Meadowlarks was noted at Cresse Lane 6 Jan (MO'B), and a flock of 300 Boat-tailed Grackles took up residence in the Reed's Beach marshes the same day (TR).

[Black-capped Chickadee at CMP, 5 Jan. Photo by Michael O'Brien.]

Jesse Amesbury, Kate Atkins, Tom Baxter, Alan Crawford, Jim Dowdell, Vince Elia, Don Freiday, Tom Magarian, Christina Marks, Michael O'Brien, Tom Reed, Virginia Rettig, Hans Toft, Matt Webster, Louise Zemaitis.