Friday, April 4, 2014

Week in review: 29 March – 4 April, 2014

CMBO is pleased to provide weekly summaries of the Cape's birding highlights. Coverage is limited to sightings in Cape May County, and 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 began with seasonable but wet conditions 29–30 Mar, ahead of an approaching cold front. Skies gradually cleared through the afternoon hours 31 Mar, as temperatures slowly reached 50ºF and gusty northwest winds topped 30mph at times. Conditions improved during the first two days of Apr, as light and variable winds and spotty sunshine prevailed. Temperatures surged toward 60ºF by the late-afternoon 2 Apr. A light onshore flow developed through the second half of 3 Apr, followed by a few light showers during the overnight hours 3–4 Apr. The onshore flow continued to strengthen throughout 4 Apr, as northeast winds increased to 20–30mph along the immediate coast.

Birding Summary: Observers submitted sightings of 159 species to eBird during the period 29 Mar – 4 Apr. The best diversity day occurred on 2 Apr, when 120 species were reported. This week's arrivals included Little Blue Heron and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. Notable rarities included "Eurasian" Green-winged Teal, Red Phalarope, Black-headed Gull, Little Gull, Snowy Owl, Black-capped Chickadee, and "Gambel's" White-crowned Sparrow.

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


Lingering waterfowl were again in the news this week. Two Tundra Swans continued to evade the resident Mute Swans at CMPSP/SCMM through at least 3 Apr, two Canvasbacks remained at SCMM through 3 Apr, and three Redheads could also still be found at SCMM through at least 1 Apr (m. ob.). Interestingly, there are no previous April eBird records for Tundra Swan or Redhead in Cape May County. The two male Eurasian Wigeon along Ocean Drive were joined by a third individual 31 Mar (SWh). The "Eurasian" Green-winged Teal was last reported from Lighthouse Pond at CMPSP 2 Apr (m. ob.). Harlequin Duck is a scarce bird in Cape May County, so a total of 4 at Cold Spring Inlet 2 Apr was notable (CH). Two Wild Turkeys, rare at CMP, continued their stay in town through at least 3 Apr (m. ob.). Red-necked Grebe reports dropped off again this week, though 5 could still be found near the 80th Street Municipal Dock in Stone Harbor 2 Apr (SG) and 3 stayed put at Cape May Harbor through 2 Apr (SWi). Wading birds continued to filter in. At least 32 Great Egrets were roosting along Reed's Beach Road during the evening of 1 Apr (TR), and 21 migrated past CMP 3 Apr (MiC). The year's first Yellow-crowned Night-Heron arrived at 44th Street, Avalon on 30 Mar (TR), while the first Little Blue Heron was flying over Cold Spring the same day (TB). 
 [Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at Avalon, 30 Mar. Photo by Tom Reed.]

       Conditions were again poor for raptor migration, though small numbers of Northern Harriers and Ospreys could be seen moving north on days with more favorable conditions. A group of 6 Northern Harriers occupied Nummy Island 30 Mar (TR). Foggy conditions were likely responsible for the Red Phalarope that flew past SHPt 30 Mar (TR). At least one Black-headed Gull continued to put in occasional appearances at Pierce's Point and High's Beach through 2 Apr (m. ob.). One or two Little Gulls entertained observers between High's Beach and Reed's Beach 30 Mar (WK, TR et al.). A single Eurasian Collared-Dove remained at CMP this week (m. ob.). The neighborhoods bordered by Coral, Harvard, Lehigh, and Lincoln Avenues are typically the best places to search for the dove. Snowy Owls returned to Cape Island this week, with individuals noted at CMPSP 30 Mar (BG) and at CMP 2 Apr (TR). At least one Snowy Owl continued at SHPt through 4 Apr (m. ob.), and additional big white owls were found at the Wetlands Institute 1 Apr (WK) and at 54th Street in Avalon 2 Apr (TR). Short-eared Owls continued to be in short supply-- singles were glimpsed at Reed's Beach 30 Mar (TR) and at Jake's Landing 1 Apr (CV). A Northern Saw-whet Owl was heard at CMP 31 Mar (GD). 
[Snowy Owl flying past the Cape May Lighthouse, 2 Apr. Photo by Tom Reed.]

       Songbird migration was generally unimpressive during most of the period. A small influx of Eastern Phoebes, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Northern Flickers, and Dark-eyed Juncos was noticeable at Cape Island and along the barrier islands 2–3 Apr (e.g., 7 Flickers, 5 Phoebes, and 20+ Juncos at SHPt 2 Apr). Cape May County's 4th Black-capped Chickadee was last observed at CMP 3 Apr (m. ob.). It is frequently seen along the south end of Yale and Lincoln Avenues. A morning vigil at Coral Avenue, CMP on 2 Apr produced 17 migrating Pine Warblers (TR). The adult "Gambel's" White-crowned Sparrow continued along the west end of Sunset Boulevard through 1 Apr (MeC, MiC). It is often seen in the vicinity of the Sunset Beach gift shop. There were no reports of the Painted Bunting or Eurasian Tree Sparrow at CMP this week. 
 [Pine Warbler at CMP, 2 Apr. Photo by Tom Reed.]


Tom Baxter (TB), Megan Crewe (MeC), Mike Crewe (MiC), Glen Davis (GD), Sam Galick (SG), Brett Gibbs (BG), Chris Hajduk (CH), Will Kerling (WK), Tom Reed (TR), 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. Accessed 4 Apr 2014. Available:
Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Accessed 4 Apr 2014. Available: