Saturday, August 23, 2014

Week in review: 16 – 22 August, 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).

Location Abbreviations/Explanations: CMP (town of Cape May Point); CMPSP (Cape May Pt. State Park); HB (Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area); Higbee Dike (dredge spoils at northwest corner of Cape Island, site of CMBO's Morning Flight count); SCMM (South Cape May Meadows); SHPt (Stone Harbor Point).


       The infestation of Mute Swans at CMPSP continued; a count of 40 was obtained at Bunker Pond 22 Aug (MiC, TR). The oft-mentioned, summering pack of Black Scoters remained at CMP along with at least 3 Surf Scoters (m. ob.). Unusual for the date was a female Hooded Merganser reported at Dias Creek 18 Aug (TB). A female Wild Turkey and 2 young birds continued at CMP through 21 Aug (MiC). The species was also reported along New England Road (m. ob.). Strong southeast winds were likely associated with the Cory's Shearwater seen from SHPt 21 Aug (TR). After a typical midsummer absence, Northern Gannets re-appeared in recent days, with sightings of immatures from the Higbee Dike 21 Aug (GD, TR) and SHPt 22 Aug (MG). Less expected was an adult reported from Ocean City 16 Aug (JI). Small flocks of southbound Double-crested Cormorants were reported over Cape Island with increasing frequency through the week (m. ob.). Large numbers of wading birds were noted on multiple evenings as they entered the Gull Island colony/roost near Stone Harbor. Counts conducted from Stone Harbor Boulevard produced 92 Tricolored Herons and 27 Little Blue Herons on 19 Aug (TR et al.); 597 Great Egrets, 1081 Snowy Egrets, 39 Little Blue Herons, 86 Tricolored Herons, and 252 Glossy Ibises were recorded 20 Aug (TR, MiC, GD). Southbound Great Blue Herons are often noted during evenings with northeast winds; such was the case when 21 were flying over Stone Harbor Boulevard around sunset 19 Aug (MeC, TR). Raptor migration was unremarkable throughout the week, but 4 Broad-winged Hawks were seen over the Rea Farm/Beanery 18 Aug (TJ, MR) and a few southbound Osprey were noted most days at CMP (m. ob.). 

[Tricolored Heron near Stone Harbor Boulevard, 18 Aug. Photo by Tom Reed.]

       There were no noteworthy shorebird flights during the past week; a single American Golden-Plover flew over SCMM 21 Aug (TR). Water levels remained high at most sites around Cape Island, putting a dent in shorebird reports, but the Stone Harbor area enjoyed a productive week. Nummy Island held 36 'Western' Willets 22 Aug (MG), and nearby SHPt was home to 92 American Oystercatchers, 1200 Semipalmated Plovers, 130 Western Sandpipers, and 7 Piping Plovers 21 Aug (TR). The marshes and salt pannes surrounding the Wetlands Institute hosted 7 Whimbrel, 215 Red Knots, and 2 Marbled Godwits during the afternoon high tide 18 Aug (TR). Another Marbled Godwit was photographed at Jarvis Sound 20 Aug (BL et al.). Last week's American Avocet remained in the area, seen at both Jarvis Sound and SCMM through at least 20 Aug (m. ob.). A Parasitic Jaeger was attracted to a feeding flock of terns and gulls near SHPt 21 Aug (TR). Intriguing was an apparent juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull at Sunset Beach 22 Aug (MiC); several other individuals of various ages remained on Cape Island beaches and at SHPt through the period (m. ob.). Ring-billed Gulls continued to filter in from points north and west-- weekly highs included 12 at SHPt 19 Aug (JI) and 10 at SCMM 21 Aug (LZ). Black Tern should be nearing peak southbound densities. The year's maximum to date, 14 migrated south past SHPt 21 Aug (TR). An additional 6 were reported at Sunset Beach 22 Aug (TB), and occasional singletons were found at various sites between SCMM, CMP, and the Higbee Dike (m. ob.). A trio of Gull-billed Terns entertained observers at SCMM 22 Aug (CH, DH), and at least 2 were seen from Stone Harbor Boulevard at Scotch Bonnet 20 Aug (TR et al.). Rare by late-Aug, a Roseate Tern tagged along with a flock of Common Terns offshore SHPt 21 Aug (TR). Royal Tern numbers increased once again, as more individuals arrived from the south. A few hundred were noted flying past Poverty Beach on at least one recent evening (CS), and 250+ were roosting at Hereford Inlet 21 Aug (TR). Beach-nesting birds endured a tough season locally, therefore a report of recently fledged Black Skimmers at Poverty Beach was especially heartening. Approximately 175 skimmers have been noted at the site in recent days (fide NJDFW). 

[Eurasian Collared-Doves flying over CMPSP, 22 Aug. Photo by Tom Reed.]

       Notable were the 2 Eurasian Collared-Doves that flew over CMPSP 22 Aug (TR, MiC). This is the first time more than 1 individual had been reported at Cape Island since early-Feb. A Common Nighthawk was hunting over Dias Creek at dusk 17 Aug (TR). A nice early-morning movement of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds 17 Aug included 33 that buzzed past the Higbee Dike (GD). Passerine migration was limited, save for a small influx that arrived on light northwest winds 18 Aug. Fair numbers of Eastern Kingbirds could be found at HB through the period, with 300–400 individuals present most days (m. ob.). The week's warbler highlight was a Golden-winged at HB 16 Aug (JA). Now is a great time to look for Mourning Warbler-- singles were noted at the Rea Farm/Beanery 16 Aug (RH), HB 18 Aug (MeC, MiC), and near Goshen 22 Aug (DW, JN). Solo Prothonotary Warblers were recorded at the Higbee Dike on 16, 17, 18, and 22 Aug (GD, TR), and Louisiana Waterthrush was noted there 17 and 18 Aug (GD). The season's first Dickcissel made its presence known over the Higbee Dike 17 Aug (GD), before the season's second Lark Sparrow put in a brief appearance at SCMM 20 Aug (SR). Bobolinks have become more apparent at many sites, and the period's high count consisted of 193 at the Higbee Dike 18 Aug (GD). 

[Baltimore Oriole was a regular sight at HB throughout the week. This individual was one of 28 that migrated past the Higbee Dike on 18 Aug. Photo by Tom Reed.]


Jesse Amesbury (JA), Tom Baxter (TB), Megan Crewe (MeC), Mike Crewe (MiC), Glen Davis (GD), Matt Garvey (MG), Roger Horn (RH), Corey Husic (CH), Diane Husic (DH), Jon Isacoff (JI), Tom Johnson (TJ), Bob Lubberman (BL), Josh Nemeth (JN), NJDFW (New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife staff), Tom Reed (TR), Melissa Roach (MR), Steven Rodan (SR), Clay Sutton (CS), Dustin Welch (DW), Louise Zemaitis (LZ). 


*eBird. 2012. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application]. eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Accessed 23 Aug 2014. Available:
*Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Accessed 23 Aug 2014. Available:

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