Friday, January 16, 2015

Week in review: 10 – 16 January, 2015

CMBO is pleased to provide weekly summaries of the Cape's birding highlights. Coverage is limited to bird 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 also 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); WMA (Wildlife Management Area).


       Cold weather continued to adversely affect freshwater duck numbers, with significant ice cover remaining on most fresh and brackish water. The award for week’s most bizarre report goes to the Ruddy Shelduck that appeared at Erma and Villas 15 Jan (SW, JD, TL). The bird, an unbanded female, has not been seen since. Though most North American records presumably refer to individuals that have escaped from captivity, the species is a candidate for natural vagrancy and free-flying birds should be thoroughly documented. A Cackling Goose remained on the pond at Champlain Drive, Villas through at least 14 Jan (m. ob.). Both a Cackling Goose and a Ross's Goose were seen flying with Snow Geese over West Cape May 16 Jan (MO). Notable ducks included 12 Canvasbacks and 21 Redheads that flew south past Avalon 11 Jan (TR), and multiple reports of the locally uncommon Common Merganser-- including a max of 9 at Tuckahoe WMA 14 Jan (SG). Grebes were in the news this week, headlined by 70+ Horned Grebes at Avalon 11 Jan (TR et al.) and at least 1 Red-necked Grebe at Avalon 11–12 Jan (m. ob.). Reports of American Bittern were limited to CMPSP, where 2 were noted 11 Jan (TB), followed by 1 on 13 Jan (WC). 

[Ruddy Shelduck at Champlain Drive, Villas on 15 Jan. Photo by Tony Leukering.]

       After nearly a week without sightings, a/the Osprey appeared at CMP 13 Jan (MP). The same or another was photographed at Stone Harbor Point 11 Jan (HT, LW). Tuckahoe WMA continued to host a dark-type Rough-legged Hawk through much of the week (m. ob.). An unprecedented southbound alcid movement, involving 2 Dovekies, 131 Razorbills, and 488 unidentified large alcids, was witnessed from Avalon’s 8th Street jetty 11 Jan (TR, m. ob.). Additional Razorbill reports from Avalon included 2 on 12 Jan (MP) and 1 on 15 Jan (TR), while at Cape Island several were scoped from CMP 11 Jan (GD) and 7 moved west past Cape May City 12 Jan (MO). Perhaps a product of increased observer effort, multiple Black-legged Kittiwakes were tallied--7 were offshore CMP 11 Jan (GD et al.) along with 2 offshore Avalon 13 Jan (TR). An adult Black-headed Gull once again appeared in the vicinity of the Cox Hall Creek outflow, near the south end of Villas, 15 Jan (JN, DW, m. ob.).

[Black-headed Gull at Villas, 15 Jan. Photo by Dustin Welch.]

       A long-staying Eurasian Collared-Dove was most recently encountered at CMP 12 Jan (SG); there were no White-winged Dove sightings this week. The year’s first Snowy Owl was discovered roosting on a rooftop at 61st Street, Avalon 13 Jan (TR et al.). At least 1 Short-eared Owl again entertained observers at Jake’s Landing through the period, and another was seen from Nummy Island 13 Jan (CM). CMPSP’s Eastern Phoebe continued through 16 Jan (JK), and at least 60 Tree Swallows survived the Cape Island winter through 16 Jan (m. ob.). Additional lingerers included at least 1 Orange-crowned Warbler at CMP through 13 Jan (m. ob.), a Palm Warbler at Rea Farm/Beanery 15 Jan (BB), a Yellow-breasted Chat at CMPSP 10 Jan (v. ob.), and a Baltimore Oriole at CMPSP 16 Jan (SG). Always notable at Cape Island, a single American Tree Sparrow was reported at CMPSP 11 Jan (SS). After a notable absence during early winter, Pine Siskins became more conspicuous in recent days-- at least 7 reports came in from Cape Island, including a flock of 11 over CMP 11 Jan (MO). A few more Common Redpolls followed behind last week’s single sighting, such as 1 over CMP 10 Jan (DF), 6 over CMP 13 Jan (MP), 1 at Reed’s Beach 14 Jan (TR), 1 at CMBO’s Northwood Center 14–16 Jan (BM, m. ob.), and 1 near Villas 15 Jan (JN, DW). 

[Snowy Owl at Avalon, 13 Jan. Photo by Tom Reed.]

[Common Redpoll at CMBO's Northwood Center, 14 Jan. Photo by Michael O'Brien.]


Barb Bassett (BB), Tom Baxter (TB), Warren Cairo (WC), Glen Davis (GD), Jim Dowdell (JD), Don Freiday (DF), Sam Galick (SG), John King (JK), Tony Leukering (TL), Christina Marks (CM), Brian Moscatello (BM), Josh Nemeth (JN), Michael O'Brien (MO), Mike Pasquarello (MP), Tom Reed (TR), Susanna Stippick (SS), Harvey Tomlinson (HT), Dustin Welch (DW), Scott Whittle (SW), Linda Widdop (LW).


eBird. 2012. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application].  eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Available: (Accessed: 16 January 2015).

Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Available: (Accessed: 16 January 2015).

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