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); Lizard Tail Swamp (Nature Conservancy property, north of Cape May Court House); WMA (Wildlife Management Area); Two Mile Beach (beachfront at south end of Wildwood Crest).
This week’s report is dedicated to the memory of Judy Lukens: CMBO ambassador, birding mentor, and wonderful human being.
WATERFOWL THROUGH HERONS
Cold weather continued to adversely affect freshwater duck numbers, with significant ice cover remaining on most fresh and brackish water. An unbanded and free-flying female Ruddy Shelduck that appeared at Erma 15 Jan (SWh) continued to be seen between Erma and Villas through at least 5 Feb (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 Ross’s Goose was again reported from the marshes north of Reed’s Beach 3 Feb (TR). Other noteworthy waterfowl included a male King Eider at Townsend’s Inlet 31 Jan (MH, SK), along with a female King Eider in the same area 31 Jan–1 Feb (m. ob.); and the continuing duo of female Harlequin Ducks at Cold Spring Inlet through at least 4 Feb (TR). Various observers noted a Red-necked Grebe near Avalon’s 8th Street jetty 3 Feb. There were apparently no reports of lingering American Bitterns or the Tricolored Heron this week, and the period’s only Great Egret report consisted of a lone bird at Pond Creek Marsh 6 Feb (MP).
[King Eider at Avalon, 1 Feb. Photo by Dustin Welch.]
RAPTORS THROUGH TERN
It seems that the Osprey of January won’t be with us in February-- no reports in two weeks. A dark-type Rough-legged Hawk was once again encountered at Tuckahoe WMA 1 Feb (TB, TG). Dwindling numbers of beachfront Red Knots remained in the Wildwoods through the period (m. ob.), along with the occasional Western Sandpiper (m. ob.) among flocks of Dunlin and Sanderling. Yet another Dovekie was viewed from shore, this time at Two Mile Beach 4 Feb (TR). At least 3 Razorbills were noted from the same location 4 Feb (TR), plus 1 more seen there 5 Feb (JC, CH). At least 1 adult Black-headed Gull remained along the lower Delaware Bayshore, with several more reports between southern Villas and Sunset Beach through 5 Feb (m. ob.). An Iceland Gull put in a brief appearance at Avalon’s 8th Street jetty 31 Jan (TG), and there was a slight uptick in Lesser Black-backed Gull reports since the start of the month (m. ob.). The persistently cold weather finally pushed out lingering Forster’s Terns, as displayed by a lack of reports during the past 10 days.
[Black-headed Gull at North Cape May, 5 Feb. Photo by Michael O'Brien.]
COLLARED-DOVE THROUGH FINCHES
There were no reports of CMP’s Eurasian Collared-Dove this week. Observers are encouraged to continue reporting sightings of the species at Cape May. There were also once again no reports of Snowy Owl this week. One of the week’s more interesting reports came in from the Lizard Tail Swamp, where 2 Red-headed Woodpeckers were observed 6 Feb (MP). Predictably, the Tree Swallow flock at CMP continued to dwindle through the progressively colder weather-- at least 2 individuals remained through 6 Feb (SH). Other lingerers included an Eastern Phoebe at West Cape May through 6 Feb (MO) and an Orange-crowned Warbler photographed at Cape May City 4 Feb (MP). Eastern Meadowlark has declined as a wintering bird at Cape Island; therefore the 25+ that continued at Hidden Valley through 6 Feb (BD, TR) are worth mentioning. Common Redpolls continued to become less obvious following a mid-January influx, but there were still several sightings including 6 at Nummy Island 2 Feb (KH) and 5 at Reed’s Beach 3 Feb (TR).
Tom Baxter (TB), Jacob Cuomo (JC), Bob Dodelson (BD), Tom Gleason (TG), Chris Hajduk (CH), Marilyn Henry (MH), Scott Hinkle (SH), Kathy Horn (KH), Sandra Keller (SK), Michael O’Brien (MO), Mike Pasquarello (MP), Tom Reed (TR), Dustin Welch (DW), 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: http://www.ebird.org. (Accessed: 6 February 2015).
Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Available: http://keekeekerr.com/textalerts/keekeekerr. (Accessed: 6 February 2015).