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).
Location Abbreviations/Explanations: CMP (town of Cape May Point), CMPSP (Cape May Pt. State Park), Cove Pool (boardwalk and adjacent marsh/pools, accessible from the west end of Mount Vernon Ave in Cape May), SCMM (South Cape May Meadows), SHPt (Stone Harbor Point).
WATERFOWL THROUGH KITE
Unfortunately, Mute Swan numbers held strong at CMPSP's Bunker Pond-- over 40 individuals remained through the period (m. ob.). Gadwall continued to be seen in small numbers between Cove Pool and CMPSP; at least one family group with 3 ducklings continued in the area of SCMM/CMPSP through 24 Jul (VE, TR). CMP's summering Black Scoters remained a constant sight through the week, though recent totals were not available. At least 3 Surf Scoters continued to be seen with this group (m. ob.). Land-based reports of Wilson's Storm-Petrels were in decline from earlier in the month, but whale-watching trips and ferry crossings encountered a handful of birds in nearshore waters most days (m. ob.). Small numbers of Brown Pelicans were noted along the barrier islands and at Cape Island most days (m. ob.). A collection of 9 Tricolored Herons along Stone Harbor Boulevard made for a nice tally 24 Jul (KH), and another small influx of Great Blue Herons arrived at Cape Island with the latest cold front 24–25 Jul (m. ob.). Also undoubtedly front-related, an imm. Mississippi Kite put in a brief appearance over CMP 25 Jul (TR, JA, RC).
SHOREBIRDS THROUGH TERN
Very rare outside of spring, a trio of Black-necked Stilts found their way to SCMM 20 Jul (m. ob.). Whimbrel were on the move during the evening hours 23 Jul, including 54 that flew over SCMM (SR, TR), and 30 seen from SHPt (KK, DR). SHPt was also home to approximately 250 Western Sandpipers, 250 Semipalmated Plovers, and 13 Western Willets on 23 Jul (KK, DR). Southbound arrivals included a Long-billed Dowitcher over SCMM 23 Jul (TR), and a White-rumped Sandpiper at Pierce's Point the same day (TB). Scarce in midsummer, a Parasitic Jaeger briefly pursued terns and gulls offshore SCMM 24 Jul (TR). There was a slight uptick in Ring-billed Gull reports during recent days, as individuals began to filter south from the Great Lakes and Canada (m. ob.). Lesser Black-backed Gull continued to maintain a heightened presence along oceanside beaches-- a minimum of 10 could be found between SCMM and CMPSP most days (m. ob.), and 6 were noticed at SHPt 23 Jul (KK, DR). Gull-billed Tern is scarce along the bayshore marshes; a single at Reed's Beach 22 Jul is worth mentioning (TR). Another was reported from the marshes near Avalon 23 Jul (MG).
SWALLOWS THROUGH BLACKBIRD
There wasn't much news regarding breeding birds this week, but the southbound movements of a growing number of species continued to unfold. Following the passage of a cold front 24 Jul, the morning of 25 Jul brought a fair number of swallows past CMP, including 250+ Barn Swallows, 25 Bank Swallows, and 2 Cliff Swallows (m. ob.). Songbirds were also on the wing the same day, with 150+ Yellow Warblers seen around Cape Island (m. ob.), including 79 engaged in "morning flight" over CMP (TR). Other early-season migrants recorded 25 Jul included Louisiana Waterthrush, Black-and-white Warbler, and several American Redstarts at CMP (MC, TR), along with a Worm-eating Warbler at Higbee Beach (BR). A curious event involved an estimated 2,000 Red-winged Blackbirds that moved past CMP 25 Jul (RC, VE, TR). Most of these appeared to be juveniles.
Jesse Amesbury (JA), Tom Baxter (TB), Mike Crewe (MC), Richard Crossley (RC), Vince Elia (VE), Mark Gallagher (MG), Kathy Horn (KH), Kevin Karlson (KK), Tom Reed (TR), Bill Roache (BR), Steven Rodan (SR), Dale Rosselet (DR).
*eBird. 2012. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application]. eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Accessed 25 Jul 2014. Available: http://www.ebird.org.*Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Accessed 25 Jul 2014. Available: http://keekeekerr.com/textalerts/keekeekerr