Friday, March 7, 2014

Week in review: 1 – 7 March, 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. The vast majority of information utilized in these reports comes from eBird data and "Keekeekerr" text alerts. Observers are encouraged to send reports and photos to compiler Tom Reed (coturnicops at gmail dot com).


Weather: The period opened with seasonably cool and calm conditions 1 Mar, followed by a brief bout of southerlies that allowed temperatures to surpass 50ºF on 2 Mar. A rare March snowstorm affected the Cape during the first half of 3 Mar, with snowfall totals ranging from 4–7" throughout the county. Bitter cold followed the storm, with temperatures failing to surpass the freezing mark again until mid-morning 5 Mar. Chilly conditions lingered 6 Mar, as an onshore flow developed ahead of a coastal storm that brushed past the area 7 Mar.

Birding Summary: Observers submitted sightings of 143 species to eBird during the period 1–7 Mar. The best diversity days occurred on 1 Mar and 2 Mar, when 107 species were reported. The 2014 cumulative county list currently stands at 184 species. There were no additions to the annual list this week. Notable birds included Ross's Goose, "Eurasian" Green-winged Teal, Snowy Owl, Black-capped Chickadee, Smith's Longspur, "Gambel's" White-crowned Sparrow, and Painted Bunting.

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

       A Ross's Goose was a surprise find at Lily Lake, CMP 4 Mar (BM, KM, m. ob.). It lingered in the area through 5 Mar, but has not been reported since. There are only a handful of confirmed records for this species in Cape May County.  Two male Eurasian Wigeon remained near the Bree-Zee-Lee Yacht Basin along Ocean Drive (between Cape May and Wildwood Crest) through 7 Mar (GD, DG, SW). A rare bird, particularly on Cape Island, was the "Eurasian" Green-winged Teal that appeared on Lily Lake 1 Mar (MiC, MeC) and continued through at least 5 Mar (m. ob.). Reports of Red-necked Grebes continued to trickle in. "New" sightings included one at Lily Lake 5–7 Mar (CV, m. ob.), another offshore North Cape May 1 Mar (BP), and 3 at the Davies Sports Complex in Cape May Court House 7 Mar (GD, DG, SW). Northern Gannet has been slow to arrive in nearshore waters. This week's only land-based report consisted of a single bird seen from CMP 2 Mar (BB, PG, DW). At least one American Bittern lingered at SHPt through 7 Mar (m. ob.). 

[Ross's Goose at Lily Lake, CMP on 4 Mar. Photo by Michael O'Brien.] 

       Hereford Inlet's winter flock of American Oystercatchers still contained at least 25 birds this week (m. ob.). Like various other early-season migrants, northbound Oystercatchers have not yet been noted. A wintering Semipalmated Plover continued at the north end of Avalon 2 Mar (m. ob.). Two Lesser Yellowlegs were either hardy lingerers or early migrants at Jake's Landing the same day (MO'B). Razorbill has been much less numerous this winter, but a single bird was found close to shore at Avalon's 8th Street Jetty 1 Mar (DF). An Iceland Gull put in an appearance at the Bree-Zee-Lee Yacht Basin 7 Mar (MO'B). At least one Eurasian Collared-Dove remained loyal to its patch in CMP, where it was last reported 5 Mar (VK). The neighborhoods bordered by Coral, Harvard, Lehigh, and Lincoln Avenues are typically the best places to search for the dove(s). Snowy Owl fans will be happy to know that a couple of the big white owls were still present in and around Cape May. At least one individual remained along the Cape May City beachfront through at least 4 Mar (m. ob.), and another was observed on a rooftop at 91st Street, Stone Harbor 1 Mar (AF). 

 [Snowy Owl at Poverty Beach, Cape May on 3 Mar. Photo by Michael O'Brien.]

       An Eastern Phoebe continued to survive the harsh winter at West Cape May, last photographed along Sunset Boulevard 5 Mar (MO'B). An obvious movement of Horned Larks occurred on the trailing edge of the snowstorm 3 Mar. An impressive 123 were tallied at Sunset Beach, including multiple flocks that continued north along Delaware Bay (CV). Cape May County's fourth Black-capped Chickadee continued to delight observers at CMP. It was last observed along Yale Avenue 7 Mar (GD). After an absence of 31 days, the Smith's Longspur resurfaced at SHPt 4 Mar (TR). It continued through 7 Mar (m. ob.), frequenting the extensive dune/marsh vegetation along the western edge of the Point. At least four Lapland Longspurs and two Snow Buntings were also seen again at SHPt 5–7 Mar (m. ob.). An Orange-crowned Warbler held on at CMPSP through at least 5 Mar (m. ob.), while a Saltmarsh Sparrow was noted at SHPt 6 Mar (MF). A minimum of 29 "Ipswich" Savannah Sparrows occupied the snow-covered dunes at SHPt 4 Mar (TR). Another surprise came by way of an adult "Gambel's" White-crowned Sparrow at the Magnesite portion of Higbee Beach WMA 6 Mar (MiC). Finally, the long-staying Painted Bunting remained at CMP through 7 Mar (m. ob.). The most recent sightings have come from feeders at 113 Harvard Avenue and 101 Lincoln Avenue.

 [Smith's Longspur at SHPt, 4 Mar. Photo by Tom Reed.]

["Gambel's" White-crowned Sparrow at the Magnesite portion of 
Higbee Beach WMA, 6 Mar. Photo by Mike Crewe.]

Barb Bassett (BB), Megan Crewe (MeC), Mike Crewe (MiC), Glen Davis (GD), Alison Fetterman (AF), Don Freiday (DF), Mike Fritz (MF), Sam Galick, Doug Gochfeld (DG), Pete Grannis (PG), Vincent Koczurik (VK), Bob McLennan (BM), Karen McLennan (KM), Michael O'Brien (MO'B), Beth Polvino (BP), Tom Reed (TR), Christopher Vogel (CV), Dianna Wentink (DW), Scott Whittle (SW).


eBird. 2012. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application]. eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Available:
Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Available: