Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Morning Flight Was Crowded Today

[Black Vultures on the Morning Flight Platform at Higbee Beach WMA, Cape May, NJ, noon today. Not the usual suspects for the site.]

At noon today two Yellow-rumped Warblers emerged from the trees of Higbee Beach WMA and flew north and high, across the Cape May Canal, to parts unknown. Were they migrating? If not, what were they doing? Still so much to learn. . .

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Eagles Everywhere

[Immature Bald Eagle along the Avalon Causeway about a week ago.]

Although the Cumberland County Eagle Festival has come and gone (a great event, by the way), there are plenty of places Bald Eagles can be seen in southern NJ. For example, I see one nearly every day i drive to the CMBO Center for Research and Education north of Goshen. My route is north on Route 47, which crosses lots of excellent bald eagle habitat.

If you are looking for eagles (or any bird), think first about where the food is. For Bald Eagles, this means wintering waterfowl, fish, and carrion (like dead deer). Coastal marshes are excellent for Bald Eagles, because besides the food factor they are inevitably ringed with dead and dying trees, a sad consequence of saltwater intrusion from sea level rise, but one that provides excellent perching sites.

In no particular order, spots to look for eagles include Jake's Landing Road, Dividing Creek/Turkey Point in Cumberland County, and Forsythe NWR in Atlantic County. I recently saw 3 dueling Bald Eagles along the Avalon Causeway, and often see them standing on Delaware Bay mudflats at low tide, particularly at Norbury's Landing and "Miami Beach," the west end of Miami Avenue in the Villas.

Last week there was an adult Golden Eagle over Beaver Swamp, just north of CMBO/CRE. Goldens are MUCH rarer than Balds in winter; be especially cautious of immature balds that frequently display a well defined white band at the base of the tail, almost as well-defined as that of an immature Golden.

Pretty much everything you'd want to know about Bald Eagles and their spectacular population recovery can be found on the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife raptor page. The state now has over 150 nests when it once had only 1! Many eagles have already begun nesting for the year.

[Over 1000 people thronged to see eagles at the annual Cumberland County Eagle Festival on February 6, and many ended the day at Turkey Point, where we watched a pair of Great Horned Owls select a nest site. Photo by Debbie Beer.]

Thursday, February 11, 2016

We, and The Champions of the Flyway, Need Your Help!

Friends and CMBO members, please check out our team page on the Champions of the Flyway website, and consider supporting us in this massively important conservation initiative!

You can read more about it on the American Birding Association Blog. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

"Welcome Back"

[This adult Red-shouldered Hawk greeted me along Lighthouse Avenue in Cape May Point on my first day (back) at work for CMBO. Click to enlarge photos.]

"Welcome back." That was the note my longtime friend Pete Dunne left me this week as I started work for the Cape May Bird Observatory for the second time. From 2007 to 2009 I was Director of Birding Programs here, a wonderful time in my life. Now, after five challenging but rewarding years with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (think government shutdowns, northeasters, direcho winds, and of course Superstorm Sandy) here I am again, as Program Director.

Mike Crewe, former Program Director and beloved by many, has returned to the U.K. and will work as a birding tour leader. Mike was great, a good friend, and I'm not trying to fill Mike's shoes any more than he tried to fill mine when he started; we have our own shoes.

What to expect? A continuing slate of great field trips, workshops, and events, for sure. Perhaps an eco-tour or two each year (you will hear about them here.) Regular blogs on birds, birding and other natural history (and I hope to continue my personal blog, the Freiday Bird Blog).  Excellent migration counts. The Monarch project. And, I hope, a lot of fun for you and I. I'm especially looking forward to working with the team CMBO Director David La Puma has put together. This is a great organization, and it's getting better. Thanks for your support.

Feel free to stop by to say hello, or drop me a line at . I'll normally be at the Center for Research and Education in Goshen Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and at the Northwood Center in Cape May Point Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I'll be picking up the Wednesday morning South Cape May Meadows walks beginning March 16, and will likely show up for a few others now and then.

[Two Red Knots and one of the thousands of Knobbed Whelk shells that washed up on Cape May beaches during last week's northeaster, which featured the highest tide ever recorded in North Wildwood, higher than Sandy and higher than the storm of 1962. People always talk about hurricanes, but it is actually fall and winter northeasters that normally do the most damage to coastal NJ. Two Mile Beach Unit of the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge on the morning of Monday, February 1. Click to enlarge.]