Friday, March 14, 2014

Week in review: 8 – 14 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 seasonable conditions under sunny skies and a moderate westerly breeze 8–9 Mar. A southwesterly flow developed for the middle portion of the week, allowing high temperatures to reach nearly 70ºF on 11 Mar. Clouds increased 12 Mar ahead of a potent cold front that crossed the Cape during the late-evening. Strong W/NW winds followed, with peak wind gusts over 60mph recorded at Cape May during the early-AM hours 13 Mar. Gusty conditions, coupled with below-freezing temperatures, continued through the rest of 13 Mar. Calmer weather made a brief stay during the AM hours on 14 Mar, before winds shifted to the south and gusted to 30mph during the PM hours.

Birding Summary: Observers submitted sightings of 169 species to eBird during the period 8–14 Mar. The best diversity day occurred on 8 Mar, when 131 species were reported. The 2014 cumulative county list currently stands at 192 species. New arrivals this week included Osprey, Piping Plover, Purple Martin, and Pine Warbler. Notable birds included Ross's Goose, "Eurasian" Green-winged Teal, Swallow-tailed Kite, Black-headed Gull, Little Gull, 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 remained on Cape Island through at least 13 Mar (m. ob.). Sightings in recent days have come from the Shunpike Road area in West Cape May. 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 at least 8 Mar (MH, RHi). Another male Eurasian Wigeon lingered at CMPSP through 14 Mar (m. ob.). The "Eurasian" Green-winged Teal remained at CMP through 14 Mar (m. ob.). Most recent reports have come from Bunker Pond or Lighthouse Pond at CMPSP. A flock of 7 Canvasbacks was notable at Coral Ave, CMP 13 Mar (GD, SG, TJ), while additional birds were noted at Sunset Beach (GD, SG, TJ), Cape May Harbor (SWi), and Ludlam's Pond in Dennisville (MB) the same day. Red-throated Loon numbers are increasing in the mouth of Delaware Bay. Approximately 200 were estimated offshore CMP 14 Mar (GD, BB, TR). Red-necked Grebe reports surged again, with a minimum of 42 seen throughout the county this week. Locations hosting the species included: 80th Street Municipal Dock in Stone Harbor, SHPt, Cape May Harbor, South Cape May Meadows, CMPSP, Lily Lake, Sunset Beach, Davey's Lake at Higbee Beach WMA, Cape May Ferry Terminal, Cox Hall Creek WMA, Champlain Drive pond in the Villas, Miami Ave in the Villas, Jake's Landing, Ludlam's Pond in Dennisville, and Lake Nummy in Belleplain State Forest. Northern Gannet continued to be slow to arrive in nearshore waters. Small numbers of adults appeared this week, with most sightings from CMP and SHPt (m. ob.).  At least one American Bittern lingered at SHPt through 10 Mar (m. ob.), while others were noted at CMPSP 8 Mar (JF) and at Davey's Lake 12 Mar (SWh). Three Plegadis ibis, presumably Glossy Ibis, flew over CMP 14 Mar (GD, BB, TR). 

       The year's first Osprey was noted at CMPSP 8 Mar (RF). A Swallow-tailed Kite made a convincing case for "bird of the week" honors as it flew over Tabernacle Road in Erma during southerly winds 12 Mar (MiC, MeC, WC). An additional report of a Kite flying over mile 1.6 of the Garden State Parkway 13 Mar presumably referred to the same individual (CR). This record apparently represents a new early date for the species in New Jersey. A Northern Goshawk was once again reported at CMP 9 Mar (CH). Another was reported at Tuckahoe WMA 12 Mar (MF). The wintering Rough-legged Hawk at Tuckahoe WMA was seen again 10 Mar (TB, JA). American Oystercatcher numbers increased this week, as migrants and returning breeding birds appeared from points south. A total of 79 could be found at SHPt 14 Mar (TR). A Piping Plover arrived at Strathmere 9 Mar (AB), and another appeared along the North Cape May beachfront 14 Mar (MP). Razorbill remained scarce, though one zipped past SHPt 10 Mar (TR). A surprising encounter involved a single Red Knot flying north past Sunset Beach on the heels of the strong cold front 13 Mar (GD). Mid-March is a great time to search for Little Gull in Cape May-- an adult was discovered at the north end of Villas 12 Mar (SGl, m. ob.). A minimum of six Black-headed Gulls were studied at the Miami Ave sandspit in the Villas this week (m. ob.). This total apparently establishes a record high count for the species in Cape May County. Another Black-headed Gull flew past CMP with a flock of Bonaparte's Gulls 14 Mar (TR). Lesser Black-backed Gulls are currently on the move. Reports this week came in from Ocean Drive near Cape May Harbor 10 Mar (KH, RHo), South Cape May Meadows 10 Mar (CV), Miami Ave in the Villas 11 Mar (WC et al.), and Sunset Beach 13 Mar (GD). At least one Eurasian Collared-Dove remained loyal to its patch in CMP, where it was last reported 8 Mar (m. ob.). The neighborhoods bordered by Coral, Harvard, Lehigh, and Lincoln Avenues are typically the best places to search for the dove(s). At least one Snowy Owl was viewed several times along Stone Harbor Boulevard through 12 Mar, most often at dawn and dusk (m. ob.). Another was near 42nd Street in Avalon 9 Mar (fide TJ). Multiple Short-eared Owls continued to put on a nice show at Jake's Landing during nicer evenings (m. ob.). 

[Black-headed Gull at Miami Ave, Villas. Photo by Jesse Amesbury.]

[Little Gull at Miami Ave, Villas. Photo by Tom Johnson.]

       A wintering Eastern Phoebe continued at West Cape May, last seen along Stevens Street 8 Mar (MO'B). Another was tallied at CMPSP 14 Mar (MP). An obvious arrival of Fish Crows occurred 8–11 Mar, and the species is now widespread again throughout the county. The season's first Purple Martins were photographed at CMPSP 14 Mar (BE). Approximately 400 Tree Swallows at Cape May Point 13 Mar followed the strong cold front and were likely weather-related (TJ, SGa). The Black-capped Chickadee was last observed along Yale Avenue, CMP 12 Mar (GD). The Smith's Longspur was still showing sporadically at SHPt through at least 10 Mar (m. ob.). Sightings this week continued to occur in the extensive dune/marsh vegetation along the western edge of the Point. At least two Lapland Longspurs also remained at SHPt through 11 Mar (m. ob.), and Snow Bunting was last reported there 9 Mar (JE, SL). An Orange-crowned Warbler lingered at CMPSP through at least 9 Mar (m. ob.), while the year's first Pine Warbler was noted in the pines at St. Mary's, CMP 11 Mar (TR). At least 8 "Ipswich" Savannah Sparrows lingered at SHPt 14 Mar (TR). The adult "Gambel's" White-crowned Sparrow continued along the west end of Sunset Boulevard through 14 Mar (m. ob.). An American Tree Sparrow was also there the same day (MP). Finally, the Painted Bunting stayed put at CMP through at least 11 Mar (m. ob.). The most recent sightings have come from Lincoln Avenue. 

[Lapland Longspur at Stone Harbor Point. Photo by Jacob Cuomo.]


Jesse Amesbury (JA), Tom Baxter (TB), Mike Bisignano (MB), Bill Boyle (BB), Alf Breed (AB), Warren Cairo (WC), Megan Crewe (MeC), Mike Crewe (MiC), Jacob Cuomo, Glen Davis (GD), Jeff Ellerbusch (JE), Barb Elliot (BE), Robert Ferguson (RF), John Finch (JF), Mike Fritz (MF), Sam Galick (SGa), Steve Glynn (SGl), Chris Hajduk (CH), Margaret Higbee (MH), Roger Higbee (RHi), Kathy Horn (KH), Roger Horn (RHo), Tom Johnson (TJ), Simon Lane (SL), Michael O'Brien (MO'B), Mike Pasquarello (MP), Tom Reed (TR), Carolyn Roache (CR), Christopher Vogel (CV), Scott Whittle (SWh), Sam Wilson (SWi). 


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: