Friday, February 7, 2014

Week in review: 1 – 7 February, 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 cool and clear conditions under a light onshore flow 1 Feb. Winds shifted to the south and bumped temperatures to 55ºF by mid-afternoon 2 Feb, but the balmy conditions would be short lived. A large but fast-moving storm system moved through 3 Feb and produced over an inch of rain. North winds followed behind this storm and suppressed daytime temps to the low 30s under overcast skies 4 Feb. Another quick-hitting storm system dumped an additional inch of rain 5 Feb and was followed by another shot of colder air. Temperatures struggled to surpass the freezing mark 6–7 Feb, accompanied by clear skies and NW winds to close out the period.
Birding Summary/Outlook: Observers submitted sightings of 155 species to eBird during the period 1–7 Feb. The 2014 cumulative county list currently stands at 180 species. The best diversity day occurred on 1 Feb, when 135 species were reported. Notable birds this week included King Eider, Red-necked Grebe, Northern Goshawk, Spotted Sandpiper, Common Murre, Snowy Owl, and Black-capped Chickadee. Observers should keep an eye out for Red-necked Grebes and other waterbirds which may continue to arrive from points north in coming days.

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

         Two Tundra Swans remained at CMPSP and the South Cape May Meadows through 6 Feb (m. ob.). A male Eurasian Wigeon was seen at Lily Lake 1 Feb (m. ob.). A male Canvasback joined a few dozen Greater Scaup at Reed's Beach 4 Feb (TR). Several Redheads held on at CMPSP and Cox Hall Creek WMA through the week (m. ob.). Nummy Island's two hen King Eiders continued through 7 Feb; recent sightings have come from the "toll bridge" at the south end of the causeway (m. ob.). An influx of Red-necked Grebes occurred this week. Delaware Bay sightings included one seen during a ferry crossing 1 Feb (TS, AK) followed by a total of 7, including a flock of 5 apparent migrants, at CMP 2 Feb (GD). Atlantic Coast sightings included 2 at Nummy Island on 2 Feb (m. ob.), and at least five in the back bays of Stone Harbor throughout the week (JA, TJ, SG et al.). Additional grebes were found on 5 Feb at 44th St., Sea Isle City (TJ, SG) and along North Wildwood Blvd (TR), and on 7 Feb at Sunset Lake (MP). Two or three American Bitterns remained at SHPt this week (m. ob.). A Northern Goshawk made appearances at various locations on Cape Island 1 Feb (m. ob.). Light-morph Rough-legged Hawks were seen 1 Feb at Tuckahoe WMA (MC) and at Reed's Beach (TR).

[ABOVE: Red-necked Grebe sightings in Cape May Co., 1–28 Feb 2013. BELOW: Red-necked Grebe sightings in Cape May Co., 1–7 Feb 2014. Images courtesy of eBird (]

        Shorebirds have been in short supply, but Hereford Inlet's wintering flock of American Oystercatchers still contained at least 40 individuals this week (m. ob.). Avalon's 8th Street Jetty hosted 45 Purple Sandpipers 2 Feb (TJ, SG), and 3 Semipalmated Plovers were seen along the northern Avalon beachfront 1 Feb (KA). A Spotted Sandpiper was a surprising find along the Delaware Bay at High's Beach 6 Feb (WK). Even more surprising was a Common Murre at Sunset Lake, Wildwood Crest 6–7 Feb (TB, m. ob.). This species has only been seen from shore in Cape May Co. a handful of times. 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 through 2 Feb (m. ob.). Additional Snowy Owls were noted atop Congress Hall in Cape May City 1 Feb (MG, m. ob.), at 54th St., Avalon on 2 Feb (TJ, SG, m. ob.), and at the Cape May Coast Guard Base 7 Feb (CH). Short-eared Owls continued to show at Jake's Landing on nicer evenings (m. ob.), while singles were observed between Nummy Island and SHPt 1–4 Feb (MC, WK).

[Common Murre at Sunset Lake, 6 Feb. Photo by Michael O'Brien.]

        Two Red-headed Woodpeckers were seen at The Nature Conservancy's Lizard Tail Swamp Preserve 6 Feb (SG). A remarkably hardy Eastern Phoebe lingered at the Beanery/Rea Farm and along Stevens Street in West Cape May 1–2 Feb (MO'B, HB). Cape May County's fourth Black-capped Chickadee remained at CMP through at least 5 Feb (MP, GD). Multiple Lapland Longspurs continued at SHPt through 2 Feb (m. ob.). The Smith's Longspur hasn't been reported since 31 Jan. A flock of 33 Snow Buntings bounced around SHPt 5 Feb (TR). An Orange-crowned Warbler appeared near the observation deck at SHPt 2 Feb (MD); another was seen at CMPSP the same day (WK). American Tree Sparrows were reported at multiple locations (v. ob.). A few Nelson's Sparrows and Saltmarsh Sparrows were found at SHPt 1 Feb (m. ob.). Winter finches remained nonexistent-- this week's only Purple Finch report was of a single bird at CMPSP 2 Feb (WK). 

[Nelson's Sparrow at SHPt, 1 Feb. Photo by Michael O'Brien.]


Jesse Amesbury (JA), Kate Atkins (KA), Tom Baxter (TB), Henry Burton (HB), Mike Crewe (MC), Glen Davis (GD), Martin Dellwo (MD), Sam Galick (SG), Mark Garland (MG), Chris Hajduk (CH), Tom Johnson (TJ), Will Kerling (WK), Alan Kneidel (AK), Michael O'Brien (MO'B), Mike Pasquarello (MP), Tom Reed (TR), Taj Schottland (TS).