Friday, February 27, 2015

Week in review: 21 – 27 February, 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); Coast Guard Ponds (ponds/marsh located on south side of Ocean Drive, between Cape May and Wildwood Crest); Cold Spring Inlet (entrance to Cape May Harbor, accessed from Two Mile Beach Unit of Cape May National Wildlife Refuge).

Access Note: Stone Harbor Point remains CLOSED due to restoration work.


       Abnormally cold weather continued to negatively affect waterbird numbers, and several sources suggest that February 2015 will be among the coldest locally since records have been kept. Significant ice cover remained on most fresh and brackish water, and additional ice cover overtook much of Delaware Bay and many Atlantic back-bays. An unbanded and free-flying female Ruddy Shelduck that appeared at Erma 7 Jan (SWh) was apparently not reported for a second straight week. 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. Observers are encouraged to report any additional sightings. The trio of Harlequin Ducks at Cold Spring Inlet remained through at least 25 Feb (DF, KH). Other noteworthy waterfowl included typically-scarce Canvasbacks, Redheads, and Common Mergansers at several locations throughout the county (m. ob.). At least 2 Red-necked Grebes were again in the vicinity of Avalon’s 8th Street jetty through the week (m. ob.) and another flew past Hereford Inlet 23 Feb (TB); one might expect to see more of this species given current ice cover on the Great Lakes. An American Bittern again greeted an observer at Nummy Island 26 Feb (DF). Pond Creek Marsh played host to a light-type Rough-legged Hawk--always rare on Cape Island--26 Feb (GDa et al.)., while another put in an appearance at Reed’s Beach 21 Feb (TR). 

[Ice cover on Delaware and Chesapeake bays as of 25 Feb. Image courtesy of United States National Ice Center & MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.  Accessed 27 Feb 2015.]

       ‘Western’ Willet was reported for a second straight week, this time a flock of 12 at or near the Coast Guard Ponds 22 Feb (PB). A handful of Red Knots remained at Two Mile Beach through the period (m. ob.) Otherwise, shorebird reports were sparse, save for numerous roadside American Woodcock (many hit by cars) throughout the county (m. ob.). An Iceland Gull flew past the north end of Avalon 25 Feb (GDw), and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were noted at Two Mile Beach 25 Feb (MP) and CMP 27 Feb (DF, KH). After nearly a month without sightings, a Eurasian Collared-Dove was glimpsed at CMP 24 Feb (fide Keekeekerr). Observers are encouraged to continue reporting the species at Cape May. Recent Short-eared Owl news consisted of singles viewed at Jake's Landing 22 Feb (m. ob.) and at Pond Creek Marsh 27 Feb (MP). In what has become a sad trend, very few American Kestrels have been seen in Cape May Couny this winter-- a male was a welcome sight at Reed's Beach 26 Feb (TR). The list of “hardy lingerers” dwindled yet again this week, and we received zero reports of the Tree Swallows, Eastern Phoebes, or Orange-crowned Warblers that had been hanging on at Cape Island. Rusty Blackbirds remained a semi-regular sight at the Rea Farm/Beanery, with sightings through the period (m. ob.).



Pete Bacinski (PB), Tom Baxter (TB), Glen Davis (GDa), Gail Dwyer (GDw), Don Freiday (DF), Kathy Horn (KH), Mike Pasquarello (MP), Tom Reed (TR), Scott Whittle (SWh).



eBird. 2012. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application].    eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Available: (Accessed: 27 February 2015).

Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Available: (Accessed: 27 February 2015).

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