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Field Guides Tour Report
Spring in Cape May 2018
May 13, 2018 to May 19, 2018
Tom Johnson & Doug Gochfeld

Here we are, along with an assemblage of very excited Cape May locals, after we had the magnificent fortune of connecting with a Magnificent Frigatebird in Cape May Point. This bird had all the birders in the area, including our group, in a tizzy, though it was but one highlight in a week chock full of them for us! Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

The spring in Cape May is always interesting and dynamic, and this spring proved no exception. In fact, this was one of the best general migration weeks in spring in recent memory here. The forecast for copious rain lent some doubt to how much birding we would be able to get in on a couple of days, but we somehow skirted heavy rain for the most part (or rather, it skirted us), and the unsettled skies, overnight storms, and intermittent daytime drizzles contributed to some really phenomenal migration.

We started our birding with a bang on Sunday afternoon, immediately going to see a staked out Barred Owl family, and successfully ogling an adorable fluffy youngster and its more concealed parent. This auspicious start was a harbinger of things to come, with each stop better than the last. Our week of birding took us through all the major habitats of Cape May County, from the rich deciduous forest in the north, to the extensive saltmarsh along the east coast, to the bayside beaches, to the manicured neighborhoods on Cape Island sheltered behind native dune scrub.

The Horseshoe Crab spectacle along the Delaware Bayshore was especially delightful this year, with a large spawning event taking place on the nights just prior to our visits. In addition to some up close and personal views of the crabs and their eggs, we were able to enjoy the Red Knots, Ruddy Turnstones, and Semipalmated Sandpipers amidst the throngs of Laughing and Herring Gulls, all here to fatten up on as many Horseshoe Crab eggs as they could get down their gullets. Our shorebird experience didn’t end with this famous spectacle either, as we got to see a tremendous number of shorebirds in the managed impoundments at Heislerville and Brigantine during high tides. Mixed into the several thousand Semipalmated Sandpipers at these two spots were a veritable horde of White-rumped Sandpipers, as we tallied nearly a hundred of these low density migrants when all was said and done. Shorebirds were also migrating over Cape May in large numbers most days, and we were treated to a constant flow of this visible migration over the South Cape May Meadows and Cape May Point State Park.

Not to be outdone, passerines put in a fantastic showing as well. Wherever we went, from the barrier beaches along the coast, to the neighborhoods of Cape May Point, or the trails of the various parks, we were bombarded with warblers of every description. Bay-breasted Warblers, of which we are often happy to see one or two, seemed to be everywhere, and Magnolia and Blackpoll warblers seemed to be dripping from the trees at times. We were wowed by the brilliant orange throats of male Blackburnian Warblers, excited by the drop-ins of migrating Black-billed Cuckoos twice (!!), and even got to bask in the loud song of the visiting rare Swainson’s Warbler, which was cooperative enough to perch up high in the open for almost ten minutes as we watched it through scopes at our leisure!

The breeders of Cape May were in full bloom too, as Belleplain State Forest produced its usual delightful array of breeders, including Hooded, Blue-winged, and Worm-eating warblers, Wood Thrush, Summer Tanager, Ovenbird, and Acadian Flycatcher. Our trip to the heron rookery in Ocean City didn’t disappoint, with spectacular views of breeding herons (including an electric Little Blue Heron), and we had a bonus in the form of the first evidence of breeding of White-faced Ibis for the state of New Jersey. For the second year in a row, our tour visit to the site coincided with a great wave of songbirds passing through first thing in the morning, with the highlights here being Summer Tanager, Bay-breasted Warbler, and one of the aforementioned Black-billed Cuckoos. Our boat ride into the back bays of Cape May aboard the Osprey was fantastic. In addition to basking in the wealth of Ospreys and their many makes and models of nests, we had an intimate experience with a pair of Clapper Rails, saw a Western Willet, and discovered the site of a Peregrine Falcon nest when the pair did a prey delivery to a nook inside a bridge we were passing under.

This week was Cape May at its best, which is really saying something, and we couldn’t have asked for a group of people more interested in all the various pieces of natural history that Cape May has to offer. It was an absolute pleasure, not only thanks to the weather and the setting, but to all of you who joined us. Cheers, and see you in the field!

-Doug & Tom

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

The reason for the legendary annual assemblage of shorebirds on the Delaware Bay coast are these tiny, beautiful, life-giving orbs: Horseshoe Crab eggs! Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
BRANT (ATLANTIC) (Branta bernicla hrota) – Plenty in the back bays from the Osprey.
CANADA GOOSE (Branta canadensis) – These honkers were everywhere.
MUTE SWAN (Cygnus olor) – Disquietingly common.
WOOD DUCK (Aix sponsa) – Three of these flew by us near the gull pond tower at Brigantine.
GADWALL (Mareca strepera) – Meadows and Brigantine.
MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos) – Widespread.
AMERICAN BLACK DUCK (Anas rubripes) – Surprisingly few, but we picked them up at Heislerville and Brigantine.
COMMON EIDER (Somateria mollissima) – This out of season seaduck had been hanging around the point for much of our tour, and we finally caught up with her on that final rainy morning, at the Concrete Ship.
SURF SCOTER (Melanitta perspicillata) – Cooks Beach.
WHITE-WINGED SCOTER (NORTH AMERICAN) (Melanitta fusca deglandi) – The scarcest of the three scoter species at this time of year, we picked one out of the mixed species scoter flock off of Cooks Beach.
BLACK SCOTER (Melanitta americana) – Cooks Beach.
RED-BREASTED MERGANSER (Mergus serrator) – Heislerville, the Osprey, and Brigantine.

Blackburnian Warblers are drop dead gorgeous, and luckily they showed well this year, including this male at Stone Harbor. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
WILD TURKEY (Meleagris gallopavo) – We heard one at Cape May Point State Park, and then saw them at several other places, including at Belleplain and on a driving range near the CMC airport.
Gaviidae (Loons)
RED-THROATED LOON (Gavia stellata) – Off of Stone Harbor Point and Cape May Point.
COMMON LOON (Gavia immer) – One flew over us at Ocean City Welcome Center, and then we had one on the Osprey and off Cape May Point.
Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens) – Big time stunner here! We were able to run down this gargantuan seabird of the tropics just a couple of minutes after an alert was texted out about it. Eventually, we assembled on the Coral Avenue dune overlook, along with a dozen or more members of the Cape May birding community, watching this bird glide around effortlessly. This is an extremely rare species this far north, and is perhaps less than annual. Even when they are seen, they are often not easily chaseable owing to their propensity to not stay in any one place for every long. This one proved to be an exception, and it was quite an experience for us!
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax auritus) – Very common, including birds still migrating north.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias) – At Brigantine, we watched one wrestle with, and eventually vanquish, a huge fish, larger than the bird's own head.
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) – Common.
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula) – Widespread.
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea) – Stone Harbor Point, Ocean City Welcome Center, Bayberry Ponds.
TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor) – Cape May Point and Brigantine.

We had an amazing experience finding a new Peregrine Falcon nest during our boat trip through the bay bays of Cape May. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis) – A brief flyby while we were watching the Wild Turkeys strut around the driving range near the Cape May County Airport.
GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens) – Seen several times.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax) – We saw many of them on the breeding colony at Ocean City, and then a young bird perched up in a tree behind the bird observatory.
YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea) – A gorgeous male in the woods at the Avalon Dunes, and then a good number at the Ocean City colony.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus) – Here and there, with the largest numbers coming at Ocean City.
WHITE-FACED IBIS (Plegadis chihi) – Another big surprise was a subadult White-faced Ibis gathering sticks for nesting material at the Ocean City colony. This is a rare (though annual) bird in the region as it is, and this was the first time one had ever been documented attempting to nest in the state of New Jersey.

Is there any doubt that this Osprey has the best nest? It even has space for your jacket to be hung. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus) – Common, though seen in lower numbers than usual due to the poor soaring weather.
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura) – Common, though seen in lower numbers than usual due to the poor soaring weather.
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – An overwhelming number of these breeding around the county, especially on the back bay seen from, fittingly, the Osprey. The favorite nest was the several foot high volcano diorama made of sticks and other accoutrements such as a coat hanger.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus hudsonius) – A surprise male heading north over Cooks Beach Road. They used to be a more common spring and summer sight along the salt marshes of New Jersey, but the species has become decidedly uncommon as a breeder in the region.
BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) – A few here and there, with especially good views at Brigantine.
RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis) – Our only buteo, which isn't surprising given the weather we had, which greatly restricted our potential for soaring birds.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
CLAPPER RAIL (Rallus crepitans) – We saw several of these in the saltmarsh while aboard the Osprey boat, including a pair that put on a great show featuring lots of vocalizing and cavorting, and even some running around and posing out in the open!
VIRGINIA RAIL (Rallus limicola) – We heard one of these repeatedly calling through the wind at the Meadows, but it was far enough off the path that we didn't have much of a shot at laying eyes on it. [*]

Clapper Rails put on a good show for us, and gave us great views as we traveled through the salt-marsh on the Osprey boat. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)
AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus palliatus) – Fairly common in appropriate habitat.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola) – Common along the coasts and in the flyover flocks of migrant shorebirds.
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus) – In several places, including as migrants. Best views were at Brigantine.
PIPING PLOVER (Charadrius melodus) – We got this cute one at Stone Harbor.
KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus) – Several places, but the most memorable ones were the pair in the Meadows, which were seen both copulating with each other and then being very good parents by sheltering their two already hatched young under them while it was raining.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus) – A huge number at Shell Bay Landing, and small numbers elsewhere.
RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres) – At just about every location at which we encountered shorebirds.
RED KNOT (Calidris canutus) – A good show along the bayshore beaches.
STILT SANDPIPER (Calidris himantopus) – A nice, uncommon addition, close to the road at Brigantine.
SANDERLING (Calidris alba) – Several of the beaches we visited.
DUNLIN (Calidris alpina) – Here and there in small numbers, with the exception of Heislerville, which had very large numbers.
PURPLE SANDPIPER (Calidris maritima) – Two on the Stone Harbor jetty were a nice treat, as was one in front of the Sunset Grille on our final rainy morning.

We were completely mesmerized by the masses of shorebirds at Heislerville, with thousands upon thousands of Semipalmated Sandpipers, Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitchers, Semipalmated Plovers, Black-bellied Plovers, and more (and all in high breeding plumage to boot). Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla) – Widespread in appropriate habitat.
WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER (Calidris fuscicollis) – Nice views at Heislerville, a flyby at the Meadows, and then the fat cherry on top at Brigantine, where we saw no less than 75 (!!) individuals.
SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER (Calidris pusilla) – Common.
SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus griseus) – Widespread.
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE (Phalaropus lobatus) – A special treat was a male flying south along the beach during our final morning's seawatch at the Concrete Ship.
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) – Widespread.
SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria) – Excellent close up views at the Beanery, and then at CMPSP as well.
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca) – Several spots.
WILLET (EASTERN) (Tringa semipalmata semipalmata) – The most out of place ones were the pair seemingly holding territory well inland, at the Pee Fields.
WILLET (WESTERN) (Tringa semipalmata inornata) – A nice surprise was a lingering young bird foraging on a mudflat in the back bay while we were on the Osprey boat trip.
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes) – Heislerville, the Meadows, and Brigantine.

Western Willet was a nice surprise on our boat ride, though it was the second year in a row we encountered one of these. This is in the category of "sure-to-be-split at some point", since their distribution and appearance is so different from that of the locally breeding, long-distance migrant Eastern Willets. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla) – Impossible to not detect one.
RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis) – Coral Avenue, soaring with the Frigatebird for a bit.
HERRING GULL (Larus argentatus) – Common, especially in the Horseshoe Crab maelstrom.
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (GRAELLSII) (Larus fuscus graellsii) – At least ten distinct individuals during our final morning seawatch at the Sunset Grille, including six perched on the beach at once, giving good comparisons with the surrounding Great Black-backed and Herring gulls.
GLAUCOUS GULL (Larus hyperboreus) – Another rarity was this lingering young Glaucous Gull, which turned up amid the Forster's Tern flock perched on the dock at Bunker Pond.
GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL (Larus marinus) – Common, widespread, vicious.
LEAST TERN (Sternula antillarum) – Fairly common, and we even got to see some standing on the beach at Stone Harbor.
GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica) – Best views were at Brigantine, though we also had a brief flyby at Coral Avenue.
CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia) – These monsters were at Brigantine.
COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo) – Several places, with especially good studies of them from the Osprey.
FORSTER'S TERN (Sterna forsteri) – They were decidedly the more common sterna during our trip, as the previous species clearly hadn't come in in their full numbers yet.
ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus) – A pair in slick breeding plumage on a mudflat in Jarvis Sound, seen from the Osprey boat.
BLACK SKIMMER (Rynchops niger) – Good flocks at both Heislerville and Brigantine, the latter of which produced some very excellent views of them skimming across the water in formation!

We were fortunate to see one Black-billed Cuckoo, so to see two of them in two days, and both well, was a real treat! This one at the Wetlands Institute had just arrived from the east, perhaps coming in from out over the ocean, and immediately began stealthily hunting tent caterpillars. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Common. [I]
MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura) – Common.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO (Coccyzus americanus) – Heard only at Bob's Woods and Belleplain. [*]
BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO (Coccyzus erythropthalmus) – This is a scarce bird, and not at all expected here at this time of year. We managed, however, to connect with different migrating individuals on consecutive days, first at the Wetlands Institute and then at the Ocean City Welcome Center.
Strigidae (Owls)
BARRED OWL (Strix varia) – A great way to start the tour was with an adult and downy juvenile at the Beanery. What a cool looking bird, that not-so-little fluffster was!
Apodidae (Swifts)
CHIMNEY SWIFT (Chaetura pelagica) – Seen every day of the tour, and we got some especially good views of these aerialists as they foraged low because of the wind and cloud cover that predominated.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris) – Stone Harbor, Ocean City, and coming to the feeder at the Brigantine Visitor's Center.

Here is a video compilation of some of the great moments from the week, including a Horseshoe Crab seminar and the first ever documentation of a breeding attempt by White-faced Ibis in New Jersey. Videos by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) – A great adult seen immediately upon our arrival near the zoo.
RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes carolinus) – Common in the northern part of the county.
DOWNY WOODPECKER (Picoides pubescens) – Cape May Point.
NORTHERN FLICKER (Colaptes auratus) – Heard only in Cape May Point. [*]
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
MERLIN (Falco columbarius) – Seen soaring in the distance near the Beanery.
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – A great experience with a pair whose nest we discovered in Jarvis Sound while we were on the Osprey. We got to see them carrying prey to the nest, and got to hear them vocalizing to boot.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus virens) – Bob's Woods, the Zoo, Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary, and Belleplain.
ACADIAN FLYCATCHER (Empidonax virescens) – Weatherby Road and Belleplain.
WILLOW FLYCATCHER (Empidonax traillii) – Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary.
LEAST FLYCATCHER (Empidonax minimus) – A migrant singing at Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary. [*]
EASTERN PHOEBE (Sayornis phoebe) – Near a nest at Belleplain.
GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus crinitus) – Very common in appropriate habitat.
EASTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus tyrannus) – The first evening at the Beanery, and then scattered around in several locations.

Chimney Swifts aren't rare, but they put on a particularly good showing this year by consistently flying very low, even allowing us to see the tiny little spines at the end of the tail! Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
WHITE-EYED VIREO (Vireo griseus) – A few spots, easier to hear than to see, though we did get some good looks.
YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons) – We had a migrant at Bob's Woods, and then heard another one singing from adjacent to the parking lot at Brigantine.
BLUE-HEADED VIREO (Vireo solitarius) – We connected with this getting-late migrant at both Bob's Woods and the CMBO Northwood Center.
WARBLING VIREO (Vireo gilvus) – Another scarce one for the Cape May Peninsula, despite being a common breeder in the surrounding region, we had a migrant or two during our first full day at Bob's Woods
RED-EYED VIREO (Vireo olivaceus) – A fairly common migrant; we even saw one in the Bella Vida parking lot.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
BLUE JAY (Cyanocitta cristata) – Heard at the zoo, and then seen at Cape May Point.
AMERICAN CROW (Corvus brachyrhynchos) – Cape May Point. Surprisingly thin on the ground this year.
FISH CROW (Corvus ossifragus) – The go-to corvid for us this year.
COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax) – We checked in on the only pair of Common Ravens known to breed in Cape May County after some reports that some of them had perished, but we found that there were still at least one adult and two fledged youngsters at the power plant. Yay for good news!
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) – Fairly common around Cape May Point State Park during our visits there.
PURPLE MARTIN (Progne subis) – The colony at CMPSP was delightful, as usual.
TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor) – Common and widespread.
BANK SWALLOW (Riparia riparia) – CMPSP and a couple of other locations.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – Common and widespread.
CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) – Brief and distant views at the Meadows, and then much better views from Coral Avenue later the same day.

This Swainson's Warbler, due to its rarity, voice, and (eventual) cooperativeness, was a true favorite for all. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)
CAROLINA CHICKADEE (Poecile carolinensis) – Most days.
TUFTED TITMOUSE (Baeolophus bicolor) – Zoo and Belleplain.
Sittidae (Nuthatches)
WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta carolinensis) – Excellent views at the Zoo and heard at Belleplain.
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon) – Common, though mostly heard only this time around, though some got views at a couple of points.
MARSH WREN (Cistothorus palustris) – We heard this chattering songster at Cooks Beach and from the Osprey. [*]
CAROLINA WREN (Thryothorus ludovicianus) – Common, widespread, loud.
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea) – Migrants in a couple of locations.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
EASTERN BLUEBIRD (Sialia sialis) – Belleplain.
VEERY (Catharus fuscescens) – Very good views at Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary.
SWAINSON'S THRUSH (Catharus ustulatus) – Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary, Avalon Dunes, Cape May Point.
WOOD THRUSH (Hylocichla mustelina) – Good views of singing birds at Belleplain.
AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius) – Everywhere.
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
GRAY CATBIRD (Dumetella carolinensis) – Very common.
NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos) – Everywhere, singing every song.

We experienced a huge flock of Whimbrel in the back bay salt marsh. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Sturnidae (Starlings)
EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) – Sadly, we couldn't manage to miss these for even a single day. [I]
Bombycillidae (Waxwings)
CEDAR WAXWING (Bombycilla cedrorum) – Lily Lake, Cape May Point, Sea Grove Avenue.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapilla) – Migrants and breeders.
WORM-EATING WARBLER (Helmitheros vermivorum) – Belleplain.
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) – Heard singing in a couple of locations, seen by some in Cape May Point.
BLUE-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora cyanoptera) – Weatherby Road.
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia) – Several migrants around Cape May Point.
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea) – An awesome pair at Belleplain.
SWAINSON'S WARBLER (Limnothlypis swainsonii) – This continuing mega-rarity put on a fantastic show for us on the first morning of the tour. It sang its little heart out, and we actually got to grill this usually secretive understory warbler through scopes at great length.
COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas) – Very common, with an especially high concentration of migrants climbing around the tops of trees, unlike the birds on breeding territories, which skulk around in low brushy habitat.
HOODED WARBLER (Setophaga citrina) – Cape May Point State Park and Belleplain.
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla) – Several.
CAPE MAY WARBLER (Setophaga tigrina) – Great views of a singing male right over our heads at breakfast on our first morning.
NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana) – Very common, especially as part of the flight overhead at Ocean City.
MAGNOLIA WARBLER (Setophaga magnolia) – Common migrants this week- what a knockout bird!

It's not often that you get this perspective on the matte black back of a Magnolia Warbler, but this was the norm at Ocean City! Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

BAY-BREASTED WARBLER (Setophaga castanea) – A staggeringly high number of these were around this week, mostly in the Cape May Point area, but we also had a male at Ocean City.
BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER (Setophaga fusca) – Bob's Woods, Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary, and Cape May Point.
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia) – Quite a few seen.
CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (Setophaga pensylvanica) – Ocean City, Belleplain, Cape May Point.
BLACKPOLL WARBLER (Setophaga striata) – Maybe the real single standout of the week in terms of warblers. They were dripping from the trees and migrating overhead just about EVERYWHERE we went. A really impressive showing by this species during our tour.
BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER (Setophaga caerulescens) – An interesting androgynous bird at Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary, and then a couple around elsewhere.
PALM WARBLER (WESTERN) (Setophaga palmarum palmarum) – Brief views near the Northwood Center.
PINE WARBLER (Setophaga pinus) – The Belleplain area.
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER (Setophaga dominica) – Great views along Weatherby Road.
PRAIRIE WARBLER (Setophaga discolor) – Pee Fields and Cape May Point State Park.
BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER (Setophaga virens) – Cape May Point and Higbee.
CANADA WARBLER (Cardellina canadensis) – Nice males on two days at the Northwood Center.
WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla) – Bob's Woods and the Northwood Center.

This Killdeer either was about to become a superhero, or was being a great parent, during a passing rainstorm at the Meadows. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Passerellidae (New World Buntings and Sparrows)
SALTMARSH SPARROW (Ammodramus caudacutus) – Most people eventually got reasonable views of this east coast salt marsh specialist despite to truly atrocious weather at Brigantine.
SEASIDE SPARROW (Ammodramus maritimus) – Very nice views of loudly (if a Seaside Sparrow can ever be classified as loud) singing individuals in the salt marsh at Cooks Beach.
CHIPPING SPARROW (Spizella passerina) – Several places, including at the zoo and in the Belleplain area.
FIELD SPARROW (Spizella pusilla) – A singing male at Cape May Point State Park was our first and best observation of this endearing little sparrow.
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW (Zonotrichia leucophrys) – An adult was a nice surprise during our final morning of birding around Cape May Point.
WHITE-THROATED SPARROW (Zonotrichia albicollis) – A couple of them seen around Cape May Point, at the bird observatory and along Sea Grove Avenue.
SAVANNAH SPARROW (Passerculus sandwichensis) – A lovely one of these was perched up, despite the rain, on the snow fence at Sunset Beach upon our arrival there during our final morning.
SONG SPARROW (Melospiza melodia) – These great songsters were seen and heard on most days.
EASTERN TOWHEE (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) – Stone Harbor Point.
Icteriidae (Yellow-breasted Chat)
YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT (Icteria virens) – Great views with the lighthouse as a backdrop at CMPSP.
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra) – A young male migrating through Ocean City, and then several birds at Belleplain.
SCARLET TANAGER (Piranga olivacea) – Good views at the zoo, and then one where we parked the cars at Higbee.

How can something be so red?! The Summer Tanagers at Belleplain really dazzled. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis) – Beautiful, charismatic, widespread.
ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus) – A female at the Northwood Center.
BLUE GROSBEAK (Passerina caerulea) – At least four gaudy males feeding on the ground at Higbee!
INDIGO BUNTING (Passerina cyanea) – Several spots.
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
BOBOLINK (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) – Several flying over on day 5, and then a female alongside the auto drive at Brigantine.
EASTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella magna) – Pee Fields.
ORCHARD ORIOLE (Icterus spurius) – A couple of males on the payroll in West Cape May showed very nicely for us!
BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula) – Coral Avenue.

Spring was definitely in the air despite the overcast skies, as these displaying Red-winged Blackbirds vying for the affection of a female can attest to. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus) – A-bun-dant.
BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD (Molothrus ater) – Fairly widespread, though not in huge numbers, as they were likely sneaking around the forests looking for nests to parasitize.
COMMON GRACKLE (Quiscalus quiscula) – Exceptionally common.
BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus major) – Seen in appropriate habitat around salt marshes, and also some apparent migrants coming in off the bay as we arrived at the Concrete Ship on our final morning.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus) – Here and there. [I]
AMERICAN GOLDFINCH (Spinus tristis) – Good views at the Meadows.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – Yes. [I]

EASTERN COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus floridanus) – Most days.
EASTERN GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus carolinensis) – Most days.
MUSKRAT (Ondatra zibethica) – Meadows and Brigantine.
COMMON BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN (Tursiops truncatus) – Seen just off shore in various coastal birding spots.
STRIPED SKUNK (Mephitis mephitis) – One van saw one of these as they were on their way out of Cape May early one morning.

Snap Daddy along the road near Heislerville. This is one we didn't dare pick up! Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

COMMON GARTER SNAKE (Thamnophis sirtalis) – An interestingly patterned individual at the Avalon Dunes still proved to be this common and widespread species.
NORTHERN WATER SNAKE (Nerodia sipedon) – One swimming towards the near shore of one of the impoundments at Heislerville.
GREEN FROG (Lithobates clamitans) – Heard around the north during the rain. [*]
RED-EARED SLIDER (Trachemys scripta elegans) – Weatherby Road near Belleplain.
EASTERN MUD TURTLE (Kinosternon subrubrum) – A really interesting one, we stopped for this turtle along the side of the road near Heislerville shortly after encountering the next species.
EASTERN BOX TURTLE (Terrapene carolina) – This was the first of our grand slam of four turtle species around the Heislerville area on day four.
DIAMONDBACK TERRAPIN (Malaclemys terrapin) – A whole bunch of them were bobbing at the surface with noses and heads protruding from the water just off shore at Heislerville.
COMMON SNAPPING TURTLE (Chelydra serpentina) – We stopped and turned around to ogle one of these along the roadside during our four turtle morning around Heislerville.
FOWLER'S TOAD (Anaxyrus fowleri) – During our first breakfast at Cape May Point State Park.
SOUTHERN GRAY TREEFROG (Hyla chrysoscelis) – Heard at Heislerville. [*]

It was all smiles and cameras as a wonderful Swainson's Warbler (!!!) serenaded us with its loud song on our first morning! Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

GRAY TREEFROG (Hyla versicolor) – Heard around the Belleplain area. [*]


Totals for the tour: 176 bird taxa and 5 mammal taxa