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); SHPt (Stone Harbor Point); WMA (Wildlife Management Area).
WATERFOWL THROUGH HERONS
Cold weather during the second half of the period adversely affected waterfowl numbers, with significant ice cover on most fresh and brackish water, along with nearshore waters of the Delaware Bay by 9 Jan. A Ross’s Goose was gleaned from a flock of 2500 Snow Goose at Reed’s Beach 7 Jan (TR), though numbers of geese have decreased there since. A Cackling Goose continued at Champlain Drive, Villas through 5 Jan (m. ob.). There were several reports of Tundra Swan, including a flock of 12 fleeing southward over CMP 8 Jan (MS, DW). Also at CMP, at least 1 Eurasian Wigeon hung on through 9 Jan (m. ob.). Other notable ducks included a Canvasback and 3 Redheads at Cape May Court House 4 Jan (TB, TG), and a flock of 22 Common Eiders at the north end of Ocean City 3 Jan (JC). A Red-necked Grebe was also viewed in the same area 3 Jan (JC). Lingering waders included 2 American Bitterns at SHPt 3 Jan (HT) and a Little Blue Heron along Ocean Drive through at least 6 Jan (m. ob.).
RAPTORS THROUGH OWLS
An Osprey survived at CMP until 6 Jan, but has not been encountered since (m. ob.). A dark-type Rough-legged Hawk was relatively cooperative at Tuckahoe WMA through much of the week (m. ob.). At least 52 American Oystercatchers continued to tough it out at Hereford Inlet 5 Jan (WC), while 52 Red Knots made for a nice January tally at Two Mile Beach 6 Jan (KH). Two Dovekies whizzed past the north end of Ocean City 3 Jan (JC), representing the latest in a series of land-based reports during the past two weeks. Particularly surprising was a Razorbill reported in Delaware Bay from High’s Beach 5 Jan (WK). A White-winged Dove, first noted at CMP 2 Jan, was last reported there 4 Jan (FL); a long-staying Eurasian Collared-Dove was most recently glimpsed at CMP 3 Jan (VE). At least 4 Short-eared Owls entertained observers at Jake’s Landing throughout the period; 2 were once again seen from SHPt 3 Jan (HT). A Northern Saw-whet Owl flashed in front of a vehicle traveling past mile 2 of the Garden State Parkway 7 Jan (GD).
PHOEBE THROUGH FINCHES
Most local winters feature a hardy Eastern Phoebe or two, such as the one that persisted at CMP through at least 4 Jan (m. ob.). Impressive was the 80 or so Tree Swallows that survived at CMP through the week (m. ob.). Additional noteworthy lingerers included 5 Palm Warblers and a Baltimore Oriole at the Rea Farm/Beanery 5 Jan (SG), single Orange-crowned Warblers at Cape May City 6 Jan (WC) and CMPSP 8 Jan (TB), and a Yellow-breasted Chat at High’s Beach 6 Jan (WK). A couple American Tree Sparrows were reported from Tuckahoe WMA, the county’s most reliable site for the species, 7 Jan (SG). Following strong movements during Fall 2014, both Purple Finch and Pine Siskin have once again become scarce. The period’s only Pine Siskin report entailed a single bird at West Cape May 4 Jan (MO). There have been widely scattered reports of Common Redpolls in the Mid-Atlantic recently, including a flock of 5 that flew over CMP 7 Jan (GD).
Tom Baxter (TB), Warren Cairo (WC), Jacob Cuomo (JC), Glen Davis (GD), Vince Elia (VE), Sam Galick (SG), Tom Gleason (TG), Kathy Horn (KH), Will Kerling (WK), Frank Lenik (FL), Michael O'Brien (MO), Tom Reed (TR), Maria Smith (MS), Harvey Tomlinson (HT), David Weber (DW).
eBird. 2012. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application]. eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Available: http://www.ebird.org. (Accessed: 9 January 2015).
Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Available: http://keekeekerr.com/textalerts/keekeekerr. (Accessed: 9 January 2015).