CMBO is pleased to provide weekly summaries of the Cape's birding highlights. Coverage is limited to 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 encouraged to send reports and photos to compiler Tom Reed (coturnicops at gmail dot com).
Weather: Overall, the week's weather was fairly tame, with ample sunshine, slightly below average temperatures, frequently breezy conditions, and two brief bouts of rain. The period opened 19 Apr with seasonable and clear conditions, under light and variable winds. A stronger onshore flow developed through 20 Apr, featuring easterly winds with gusts over 30mph at times. These conditions would weaken through 21 Apr, as continued sunshine allowed daytime highs to exceed 60ºF. Winds shifted and increased from the south on 23 Apr, ahead of a strong cold front that arrived later that day. Temperatures topped out in the mid-50s (about 10º below average) on the heels of the front 23–24 Apr, with gusty northwest winds a constant feature both days. The period closed with sunny skies and a strengthening onshore flow 25 Apr, ahead of another front and associated rain showers during the evening hours.
Birding Summary: Observers submitted sightings of 191 species during the period 19–25 Apr. This week's arrivals included Sora, Solitary Sandpiper, Gull-billed Tern, Common Tern, Great Crested Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Yellow Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Summer Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Orchard Oriole. Notable rarities included Eurasian Wigeon, White Ibis, Swallow-tailed Kite, Glaucous Gull, and Black-capped Chickadee.
Location Abbreviations: CMP (Cape May Point), CMPSP (Cape May Pt. State Park), SCMM (South Cape May Meadows), SHPt (Stone Harbor Point).
WATERFOWL THROUGH IBISES
Ducks continued to vacate the Cape for points north, but small numbers of Northern Shovelers, American Wigeons, and Green-winged Teal lingered at CMPSP/SCMM throughout the period (m. ob.). A notably late male Eurasian Wigeon remained at the same locations through 25 Apr (m. ob.). Small numbers of Black and Surf Scoters were noted moving east past CMP most mornings (TR, GD, CV et al.). At least one Horned Grebe held on at Hereford Inlet through 25 Apr (TR), while 3 Red-necked Grebes could still be found in the back-bays near Wildwood 19 Apr (VE et al.). An impressive movement of Double-crested Cormorants included 11,390 tallied from SCMM 22 Apr (TR et al.). At least 3 Cattle Egrets continued to occupy front lawns along New England Road (Cape Island) this week (m. ob.). Glossy Ibis numbers were on the increase this week, and small flocks can now be found in the Delaware Bay marshes. A group of 4 immature White Ibises made for a bizarre sight as they flew north past SCMM 22 Apr (TR).
[Double-crested Cormorants migrating over SCMM, 22 Apr. Photo by Tom Reed.]
RAPTORS THROUGH DOVE
Small numbers of Broad-winged Hawks appeared over Cape Island during days with northwest winds (m. ob.). A Swallow-tailed Kite, the county's third of the year, made a brief appearance over West Cape May 19 Apr (TR). The year's first Sora report came from CMPSP 22 Apr (TW). At least 2 American Coots lingered at SCMM throughout the period (m. ob.). The first American Oystercatcher nests were found near Corson's and Hereford inlets 21–23 Apr (fide NJDFW). A very obvious movement of Willets occurred 22 Apr, when 472 were counted flying north past SCMM (TR). A Western Sandpiper was roosting with 200 Dunlin at 117th Street, Stone Harbor on 24 Apr (TR). Stilt Sandpiper is an uncommon spring migrant-- one was at SCMM 25 Apr (TR, m. ob.). A dark-type Parasitic Jaeger was viewed from Coral Avenue, CMP 25 Apr (TR, GD). Lesser Black-backed Gulls continued to be regular at CMP and Hereford Inlet (m. ob.). A scarce bird at any season, a Glaucous Gull dropped in at SCMM 22 Apr (TR) and was subsequently seen at the Coast Guard Base 24–25 Apr (CH). Numbers of Forster's Terns increased through the period. Common Tern arrived at CMP 22 Apr (CV et al.), and at least one has been seen daily since (m. ob.). A Gull-billed Tern cruised past the Rea Farm/Beanery 25 Apr (VE), while another Royal Tern flew past CMP the same day (TR, KL). CMP's Eurasian Collared-Dove was last noted 19 Apr (m. ob.).
[Willets migrating over SCMM, 22 Apr. Photo by Tom Reed.]
[Western Sandpiper (foreground) with Dunlin at SHPt, 24 Apr. Spring movements of Western Sandpiper at Cape May are not well understood. April records presumably refer to winter holdouts or migrants that wintered farther south along the Atlantic Coast. Photo by Tom Reed.]
HUMMINGBIRD THROUGH ORIOLE
The continued cool weather seemed to put a dent in landbird migration. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds appeared at a few more locations this week, but have been quite slow to arrive overall. Great Crested Flycatcher arrived 25 Apr, when one was noted at SCMM (DH). The year's first Red-eyed Vireo was heard at the Lizard Tail Swamp Preserve 24 Apr (MP). Cape May County's 4th Black-capped Chickadee continued its stay at CMP, last noted in the dunes at Coral Avenue 25 Apr (TR). A very late Snow Bunting was seen again at SHPt 21 Apr (HB). Rare as a spring migrant, an Orange-crowned Warbler was nicely documented at CMPSP 19 Apr (EN). Yellow Warbler arrived at SCMM 22 Apr (TR), while the year's first Black-throated Green Warbler made its presence known at CMPSP 22 Apr (DA). Additional songbird arrivals included Summer Tanager at CMPSP 19 Apr (MU), Rose-breasted Grosbeak at CMP 21 Apr (GD), and Orchard Oriole at Reed's Beach 21 Apr (TR).
Contributors:David Allen (DA), Henry Burton (HB), Glen Davis (GD), Vince Elia (VE), Chris Hajduk (CH), Don Heitzmann (DH), Karl Lukens (KL), Erik Nelson (EN), New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife staff (NJDFW), Mike Pasquarello (MP), Tom Reed (TR), Michelle Uhl (MU), Christopher Vogel (CV), Terry Williams (TW).
eBird. 2012. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application]. eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Accessed 25 Apr 2014. Available: http://www.ebird.org.Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Accessed 25 Apr 2014. Available: http://www.keekeekerr.com