Friday, January 23, 2015

Week in review: 17 – 23 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); Cold Spring Inlet (entrance to Cape May Harbor, accessed from Two Mile Beach); SHPt (Stone Harbor Point); WMA (Wildlife Management Area); Two Mile Beach (beachfront at south end of Wildwood Crest).



       Cold weather continued to adversely affect freshwater duck numbers, with significant ice cover remaining on most fresh and brackish water. An unbanded, female Ruddy Shelduck that appeared at Erma 15 Jan (SWh) continued to be seen in the area, with the most recent report from the pond at Champlain Drive, Villas 23 Jan (m. ob.). Though most North American records presumably refer to individuals that have escaped from captivity, it is worth fully documenting the species’ occurrences here, as it is also a candidate for natural vagrancy. A trio of Cackling Geese was reported on the pond at Champlain Drive, Villas 20 Jan (KH). Exciting first-of-2015 reports included a female King Eider at Avalon’s 8th Street jetty 19 Jan (CS, PS) and a duo of female Harlequin Ducks at Cold Spring Inlet the same day (TR). The Harlequins remained through at least 22 Jan (m. ob.). Other notable ducks included a drake Eurasian Wigeon at CMPSP 20–23 Jan (m. ob.), a drake Canvasback at Reed’s Beach 22 Jan (KH), 6 Common Eiders at Avalon 19 Jan (JN, DW), and several reports of the locally uncommon Common Merganser (m. ob.). A significant total for the southern half of the peninsula, 60 Wild Turkeys were counted in a Green Creek field 21 Jan (SG, SWi). American Bittern sightings spanned the length of the county. Singles were detected at Tuckahoe WMA 17 Jan (BR), CMPSP 21 Jan (VE), and Sunset Lake, Wildwood Crest 21 Jan (SG). A hardy Tricolored Heron continued to hang around the marshes along Ocean Drive--between Cape May and Wildwood Crest--through 23 Jan (m. ob.). 

[Female King Eider near Avalon's 8th Street jetty, 19 Jan. Photo by Pat & Clay Sutton.]


       A/the wandering Osprey appeared again at Two Mile Beach and Cape May Harbor 23 Jan (m. ob.). There were apparently no reports of Rough-legged Hawk during the past week. Shorebird news was headlined by a Marbled Godwit at Hereford Inlet 17 Jan (JA). No reports of that bird since, though 56 American Oystercatchers remained at the same site 21 Jan (SG, SWi). A sizable wintering flock of Red Knots remained in the Wildwoods through the period, with a recent max of 82 at Two Mile Beach 19 Jan (TR). Alcids again featured prominently. Single Dovekies were observed from Two Mile Beach 19 Jan (TR) and 23 Jan (KH). Large alcids were also evident from Two Mile Beach 19 Jan, and included 28 Razorbills plus 31 alcids too distant to identify to species (TR). Black-headed Gull appeared again in recent days, with 1-2 adults present at Sunset Beach 21–23 Jan (m. ob.). Forster’s Terns remained through the cold weather, highlighted by a total of 18 at Two Mile Beach 20 Jan (MP). 

[Snowy Owl at SHPt, 22 Jan. Photo by Dustin Welch.]


       A long-staying Eurasian Collared-Dove was most recently encountered at CMP 19 Jan (SG, EH). A Snowy Owl was discovered at SHPt 22 Jan (m. ob.), and the same or another was seen flying in from the ocean at North Wildwood 23 Jan (MK). At least 3 Short-eared Owls once again entertained observers at Jake’s Landing throughout the period. A pair was again seen from Nummy Island 17 Jan (MP), and another was at Pond Creek Marsh, just north of Sunset Beach, 19 Jan (TB, TG). Notable given the cold weather, 3 Eastern Phoebes persisted on private property at West Cape May 22 Jan (MP). Remarkable were the 50+ Tree Swallows that survived at Cape Island through at least 21 Jan (m. ob.). Additional noteworthy lingerers included Orange-crowned Warbler and Yellow-breasted Chat at CMPSP 17 Jan (m. ob.). A snow-covered SHPt hosted a noteworthy count of 53 ‘Ipswich’ Savannah Sparrows 22 Jan (TR), along with Saltmarsh and Nelson’s Sparrows (MP). Another Nelson’s Sparrow was photographed along the Delaware Bay at Pierce’s Point 21 Jan (SG, SWi). A substantial influx of Common Redpolls arrived during recent days-- particularly 18–23 Jan. Largest totals included 25+ at CMP 18 Jan (m. ob.), 13 at CMPSP 20 Jan (m. ob.), and 11 at SHPt 21 Jan (TR). Almost all reports have come from the immediate coast.

[ABOVE: Map of Common Redpoll reports in Cape May County, NJ during January 2014 (no reports). BELOW: Map of Common Redpoll reports in Cape May, NJ during January 2015. Images provided by eBird ( and created 23 January 2015.]


Jesse Amesbury (JA), Tom Baxter (TB), Warren Cairo, Vince Elia (VE), Sam Galick (SG), Tom Gleason (TG), Emily Heiser (EH), Kathy Horn (KH), Mike Kilpatrick (MK), Josh Nemeth (JN), Mike Pasquarello (MP), Tom Reed (TR), Bill Roache (BR), Clay Sutton (CS), Pat Sutton (PS), Dustin Welch (DW), 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. Available: (Accessed: 23 January 2015).

Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Available: (Accessed: 23 January 2015).

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