Monday, March 28, 2016

Game Time: Champions of the Flyway 2016

As I type this it's after noon Eastern Time, which means the sun has set in Eilat, Israel (they are 7 hours ahead of us) and the teams that have assembled in the southern tip of Israel are making final preparations for the kickoff of the 3rd Annual Champions of the Flyway (COTF) bird race. Modeled after New Jersey Audubon's World Series of Birding (WSB), the COTF has established itself as a fantastic event that raises tens-of-thousands of dollars for bird conservation work throughout Europe and the Middle East each year. This year funds are being raised to combat illegal hunting of migratory birds in Greece. So far they have raised over $62,000 and there's still time to raise more! (Click HERE to support the CMBO team)
For the second year in a row the Cape May Bird Observatory has fielded a team for the event thanks to the generous support of Leica Sport Optics, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), and the Israeli bureau of tourism. Last year the CMBO/Leica American Dippers managed to win the competition with 168 species, only one more than the second-place team and after 24 hours of full-on birding throughout the southern half of the country. This year they hope again to show well during this challenging but very exciting competition. Ultimately the biggest winners will be the birds, and thanks to great supporters of CMBO, our team has also done very well raising over $5,000 for this important cause.

So for those of you who would like to follow along during the competition, there are a few ways to do so. First, follow the hashtag #COTF2016 on Twitter. Most teams are using it and there has been a steady flow of photos and tweets coming through during the last three days of scouting. Also, follow us @cmbobirds on Twitter as we will be posting updates throughout the 24-hour race, and our team will be tagging us in any posts that they tweet out as well. Lastly, keep checking our Facebook page as we will be updating that often as well. The time differential actually makes following along quite comfortable, with the kickoff and ending occurring right after the work day. Expect lots of tweets and posts when you wake up tomorrow, as much of the daytime birding occurs during our night, but tomorrow morning will also be some of the final hours of daylight for the teams so the action during our breakfast could be quite hot! Use the information below to help you follow along and let's give one last big shout out to our favorite COTF team - GO AMERICAN DIPPERS!!!

Some times to keep track of (Eastern Time):

  • 5:00pm Monday March 28th = 12:00am Tuesday March 29th in Israel, the moment when Champions of the Flyway 2016 begins
  • 11:31pm Monday March 28 = 6:31am Tuesday March 29th in Israel, or Sunrise in Eilat
  • 11:57am Tuesday March 29th = 6:57pm Tuesday in Israel, or Sunset in Eilat
  • 5:00pm Tuesday March 29th = 12:00 midnight on Tuesday in Israel, Champions of the Flyway 2016 officially ends


David La Puma
Director, NJ Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Spring 2016 Kestrel Express is Now Available Online

The spring 2016 Kestrel Express, CMBO's quarterly publication listing the programs, field trips, workshops, and tours we offer, is now online. We hope to see you in Cape May!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Island Eagle

You know it's going to be a good day when you go over the West Cape May Bridge, glance east, and see this. Undoubtedly the male of the local pair (the female is on eggs).

Every year now CMBO hawk counters have to learn how to tell "our" adult Bald Eagles from the many migrants. Last season, we counted 408 Bald Eagles migrating through Cape May.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Cape May Birding Conditions and Predictions

[This Pine Warbler, a singing male, was an arrival on the early side this morning, March 8, 2016, at Cox Hall Creek WMA, Villas, NJ, just north of the big lake there. Click to enlarge all photos.]

What a great time of year. Every day we can anticipate some new arrival, whether rare or common. Today's was the Pine Warbler pictured above. The PIWA was more or less on time, especially given the weather conditions: warm, west-southwest winds for the next few days are great for early arrivals, including swallows and special birds like Cave Swallow or Swallow-tailed Kite.

Another condition for the next day or two that should be exploited is the new moon tide, which is today, but the tides will be greater than normal for the next couple days. Tidal height is greatest with the new and full moons because the sun and the moon are in a line with the earth; thus both the sun and moon exert gravitational pull in the same direction. For example, at Fishing Creek on Delaware Bay (very near "famous" Miami Beach at the west end of Miami Avenue in the Villas,) tidal height today is forecast to max at 6.21 feet. The "neap" tide with the first quarter moon (which many people mistakenly call a half moon because that is what it looks like)March 15 will peak at 5.8 feet. Tides are heavily influenced by wind, with east winds holding water in the bays. The current westerlies will not do this.

Exceptionally high tides are a good time to look for rails (if any survived the winter) and salt sparrows along marsh edges. Nummy Island and Jake's Landing are two places to consider. Another phenomenon is that wintering shorebirds like Dunlin, Sanderlings, Black-bellied Plovers, and even a few Red Knots are forced to roost on jetties at high tide. The south jetty at the Cape May ferry terminal is particularly good for this, since it often hosts the thousands of shorebirds that winter on the mudflats of lower Delaware Bay. Look for Purple Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstones, and perhaps a Western Sandpiper or two as well.

[These Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderlings, and Dunlin were on a jetty in North Cape May today.]

[There were fewer shorebirds on the south jetty of the Cape May ferry terminal than I expected this morning, only a few hundred. This was probably the reason why. . .]

We are at or near the peak of duck migration, more on that on my blog. The South Cape May Meadows, Cape May Point State Park, Heislerville and Bivalve in Cumberland County, and Mannington Marsh in Salem County are all great places to enjoy this phenomenon.

[Great Egret on Lily Lake this morning. This could be a survivor of the winter or a new arrival.]

Finally, herons and egrets will begin trickling in this month and next, adding their splendor to a splendid season.