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 is currently CLOSED due to restoration work.
WATERFOWL THROUGH GULLS
Persistently 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 7 Jan (SWh) continued to be seen between Erma and Villas through at least 7 Feb (m. ob.). Most North American records presumably refer to individuals that have escaped from captivity, but it is worth fully documenting the species’ occurrences here, as it is also a candidate for natural vagrancy. The two female Harlequin Ducks remained at Cold Spring Inlet through at least 7 Feb (m. ob.), and a female King Eider was again reported from the north end of Avalon 12 Feb (JN, DW). Other noteworthy waterfowl included multiple Redheads at Cape May Court House 11 Feb (m. ob.) and in Stone Harbor back-bays 9–13 Feb (m. ob.), plus Common Mergansers at several locations (m. ob.). Single American Bitterns were reported at Stone Harbor Point* 7 Feb (MP) and at Nummy Island 10 Feb (WK). A pelagic trip that traveled about 50 miles southeast of Cape May encountered a Red-necked Grebe, 2 Northern Fulmars, 3 Black-legged Kittiwakes, 67 Dovekies, 12 Common Murres, 6 Atlantic Puffins, and 45 Razorbills 7 Feb (m. ob.). Additional Razorbills were noted from the Cape May–Lewes Ferry 7 Feb (TB, TG) and 12 Feb (TR), along with 4 seen from Avalon’s 8th Street jetty 7 Feb (BR) and 2 from Higbee Beach 12 Feb (VE). At least one adult Black-headed Gull continued to be seen along the lower Delaware Bay, from Sunset Beach to Villas, through the period (m. ob.).
|[Atlantic Puffin offshore Cape May, 7 Feb. Photo by Tom Reed.]|
COLLARED-DOVE THROUGH SONGBIRDS
There were no reports of CMP’s Eurasian Collared-Dove for a second straight week. Observers are encouraged to continue reporting sightings of the species at Cape May. Short-eared Owls continued to be seen some evenings at Jake’s Landing (m. ob.). The week’s non-waterbird highlight was undoubtedly the Northern Shrike reported from the south end of Corson’s Inlet State Park 8 Feb (LS); no reports since. This is the first report of the species in Cape May County since December 2012. Hardy lingerers included a Tree Swallow at the Coast Guard Ponds 11 Feb (CK), 2 Eastern Phoebes at West Cape May through 12 Feb (MO), and a Palm Warbler at Jake’s Landing 11 Feb (DW). The Rea Farm/Beanery was home to American Tree Sparrow and Vesper Sparrow, the latter a rare winter visitor, 12 Feb (KH et al.). Both Nelson’s and Saltmarsh Sparrows put in appearances during high tide at Jake’s Landing 11 Feb (DW). Eastern Meadowlarks remained a constant at Hidden Valley-- 35 were seen 8 Feb (VE). Rusty Blackbirds were reported from several locations at Cape Island, including West Cape May (MO), Higbee Beach, and Rea Farm/Beanery (VE). There were apparently no Common Redpoll reports this week.
Tom Baxter (TB), Vince Elia (VE), Tom Gleason (TG), Kathy Horn (KH), Will Kerling (WK), Chip Krilowicz (CK), Joshua Nemeth (JN), Michael O’Brien (MO), Mike Pasquarello (MP), Tom Reed (TR), Bill Roache (BR), Lloyd Shaw (LS), 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: 13 February 2015).
Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Available: http://keekeekerr.com/textalerts/keekeekerr. (Accessed: 13 February 2015).