Friday, April 11, 2014

Week in review: 5 – 11 April, 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 began with seasonable and clear conditions 5 Apr, with gusty northwest winds. Winds weakened through 6 Apr under continuing sunny skies, and a light southerly breeze took hold during the overnight hours 6–7 Apr. Winds again shifted, this time to the east, and increased through the daylight hours of 7 Apr, ahead of a warm front that produced some rain showers during the evening hours. Pleasant weather returned for 8–9 Apr, courtesy of ample sunshine and a steady breeze out of the west. A southerly flow developed during the second half of 10 Apr and strengthened through 11 Apr, bringing with it the year's first 70ºF day.

Birding Summary: Observers submitted sightings of 177 species during the period 5–11 Apr. This week's arrivals included Sooty Shearwater, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Upland Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Pectoral Sandpiper, Royal Tern, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Chimney Swift, Eastern Kingbird, Bank Swallow, House Wren, Louisiana Waterthrush, Worm-eating Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Northern Parula, and Indigo Bunting.

Notable rarities included "Eurasian" Green-winged Teal, Swallow-tailed Kite, Northern Goshawk, Sandhill Crane, Black-headed Gull, Snowy Owl, Pileated Woodpecker, Painted Bunting, and Eurasian Tree Sparrow.

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

       Waterfowl numbers finally saw a significant decrease this week. There were no reports of Redhead, the lingering Tundra Swans and Canvasbacks departed CMP 6 Apr, and Snow Geese have apparently gone missing from the bayshore marshes since 5 Apr. A female Eurasian Wigeon appeared at SCMM 9 Apr (CV), but there were no reports of the species along Ocean Drive this week. The "Eurasian" Green-winged Teal continued to put in sporadic appearances at CMPSP, last noted from the east end of Lighthouse Pond 11 Apr (MP). A strong waterbird movement past CMP during the AM hours of 11 Apr included 831 Surf Scoters, 13 White-winged Scoters, 356 Red-throated Loons, 71 Common Loons, 3,238 Northern Gannets, and 1,841 Double-crested Cormorants (TR et al.). An early Sooty Shearwater was seen from CMP the same day (CV et al.). Red-necked Grebes continued to thin out-- reports included 7 near the Ocean Drive fish docks 5 Apr (MP), 1 at Cape May Harbor 8 Apr (SW), and 3 at Champlain Drive, Villas 10 Apr (TM). A total of 14 Yellow-crowned Night-Herons could be found at 44th Street in Avalon 9 Apr (m. ob.), while Tricolored and Little Blue Herons became increasingly regular at Nummy Island through the week (m. ob.). The year's first Green Heron dropped in at SCMM 8 Apr (MP); the first Cattle Egret was reported from Route 9 in Swainton on 11 Apr (SG). 

[Great Cormorants have been seen recently at CMP and Nummy Island. 
The pictured bird was flying over CMP on 10 Apr. Photo by Tom Reed.]
       Osprey continued to filter in on a daily basis. Many nesting platforms along both the Atlantic Coast and the Delaware Bayshore now host returning pairs. Northern Goshawk is a very rare spring migrant, but that didn't stop an imm. from flying over Jake's Landing 10 Apr (CS). A Swallow-tailed Kite flew past SHPt during the strong westerlies of 5 Apr (TR). It was last seen continuing north over 30th Street, Avalon (GDw). Those same westerlies were likely responsible for the Sandhill Crane that passed over CMP 6 Apr (GDa, MC et al.). Black-bellied Plovers were on the move this week, illustrated by 12 migrating past SHPt 8 Apr (TR) and a total of 92 on the flats at Norbury's Landing 10 Apr (TF). The first noticeable push of Willets occurred 11 Apr, when 38 migrated north past CMP in small flocks (TR et al.). A group of 3 Western Sandpipers at 120th Street, Stone Harbor 8 Apr were apparently recent arrivals (TR). There were very few sightings of the species in the county this winter. Another likely arrival was the single Red Knot roosting at Nummy Island 9 Apr (m. ob.). Whimbrel made its first appearance of 2014 at Nummy Island 6 Apr, a slightly early date (TB, MP). An increasingly rare spring migrant, one Upland Sandpiper was calling as it flew over SHPt 11 Apr (TR). A bit more expected were the two Pectoral Sandpipers photographed at the Higbee Dike 8 Apr (MP). At least two Black-headed Gulls remained along the lower Delaware Bay this week, with sightings of 1-2 birds at Miami Avenue in Villas, as well as Pierce's Point (m. ob.). Laughing Gull "officially" arrived this week-- 1,180 migrated past CMP 6 Apr (MC, GDa) and a minimum of 2,500 could be seen and heard at Nummy Island 9 Apr (m. ob.). Lesser Black-backed Gulls were regular at CMP and SHPt through the week (m. ob.). Numbers of Forster's Terns increased daily, and the season's first Royal Terns entertained birders at CMP 11 Apr (CV et al.). 

 [Swallow-tailed Kite has become an increasingly frequent spring visitor at Cape May. This individual made for a bizarre sight as it flew over the ocean near SHPt on 5 Apr. Photo by Tom Reed.]

       A single Eurasian Collared-Dove stayed 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. SHPt continued to host 2 Snowy Owls through 6 Apr (TR), and at least one lingered through 10 Apr (m. ob.). A Snowy Owl also remained along the Avalon beachfront until at least 10 Apr (TR), while another was reported at Congress Hall in Cape May City 5 Apr (fide MO'B). The spring's first Eastern Whip-poor-will was audible at Jake's Landing 11 Apr (KJ, BJ). Bank Swallow arrived near Cold Spring 6 Apr (TR), and Chimney Swift arrived at CMP 8 Apr (TR et al.). The Black-capped Chickadee was apparently not seen at CMP this week (fide GDa). A Pileated Woodpecker was an exciting find at CMP 6 Apr (GDa, m. ob.). Most Cape Island sightings of this species have occurred during Apr and May. A small flight of American Kestrels and Merlins was visible along the barrier beaches 5 Apr (m. ob.). CMP's first Eastern Kingbird of the year flew past on 11 Apr (RC et al.). White-eyed Vireo appeared at multiple locations on Cape Island 11 Apr (m. ob.), and House Wren arrived at CMP 11 Apr (MP, GDa). Multiple warbler species also returned 11 Apr-- Black-and-white and Worm-eating at Belleplain State Forest (JA), Northern Parula at CMP (MC), and Common Yellowthroat at SCMM (MP). Yellow-throated Warbler, Pine Warbler, and Louisiana Waterthrush filled appropriate habitat at Belleplain State Forest through the week (m. ob.). An Indigo Bunting fed in the dunes at CMPSP 10 Apr (CV). Finally, the Painted Bunting continued at 113 Harvard Avenue, CMP through at least 9 Apr, and the Eurasian Tree Sparrow was also noted here the same day (m. ob.). 
 [One of two Snowy Owls at SHPt, 5 Apr. How much longer will 
these birds remain in Cape May County? Photo by Tom Reed.]

Jesse Amesbury (JA), Tom Baxter (TB), Mike Crewe (MC), Richard Crossley (RC), Glen Davis (GDa), Gail Dwyer (GDw), Tim Freiday (TF), Sam Galick (SG), Brian Johnson (BJ), Karen Johnson (KJ), Tom McParland (TM), Michael O'Brien (MO'B), Mike Pasquarello (MP), Tom Reed (TR), Clay Sutton (CS), Christopher Vogel (CV), Scott Whittle (SW).


eBird. 2012. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application]. eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Accessed 11 Apr 2014. Available:
Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Accessed 11 Apr 2014. Available: