Vineland Nature Club
Meets: 7 PM, 4th Friday each month
Luther Acres Activity Room
560 Sarah Place
VINELAND NJ 08360
Phone: Mike, 609-247-9049
Salem County Birding
Christmas Bird Counts,
Raptor population studies
Celebrate nature with us!
Salem County Nature Club
PO Box 606
ALLOWAY NJ 08001
Meets: 7 PM, 2nd Tuesday each month
Alloway Municipal Building
49 South Greenwich St
ALLOWAY NJ 08001
Dallas Lore Sharp Nature Club
Meets 7 PM, 1st Tuesday each month
New Hope Presbyterian Church
Osborn Lane and Hitchner Avenue
Phone: Claire, 856-453-1105
Gloucester County Nature Club
P.O. Box 563
Sewell, NJ 08080
Meets: 7 PM, 2nd Thursday each month (except July & August)
Holy Nativity Lutheran Church
3 Lenape Trail
WENONAH NJ 08090
Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and its Tributaries
PO Box 474
Millville, NJ 08332
Meets: 7 PM, 2nd Wednesday of odd months
George Luciano, Sr., Conference Center
Cumberland County College
3322 College Dr
VINELAND NJ 08360
This was probably the oddest Raptor Census in which I’ve been involved. Knowing that some people
wouldn’t want to be sharing autos in this strange season, I didn’t ask folks to invite lots of
others or ask you to cram in another birder who needed a ride. In fact I intentionally allowed
keeping the numbers minimal. Some couldn’t make it happen this year; the weather got in the way
of others; some braved rough conditions, anyway. I think the slightly lower results were a
function of all of that.
Because of that pesky weather, I suggested that Saturday would be a fine day to count birds, if
people were so moved. Sunday [the designated date] seemed problematic. Driving was less than
optimal and visibility worse. Cumberland County seemed to have gotten more rain and less snow
than the other counties. Overall, more than 1500 individual “raptors” were spotted, not really
too far from what we usually round up. Salem & Gloucester counties’ totals were lower than usual;
Cumberland’s somewhat higher. Six  routes were driven on Saturday, seven  on Sunday, and
three  on Monday. One route had to remain uncovered. I said going in that we would make the
best of whatever happened, so… Next year I may follow some of Cape May Bird Observatory’s
suggestions for inclement weather. But Saturday and Monday were both cold and clear.
Sunday was, well, it was Sunday -- I hope you’re not a KC fan.
Overall, Sharp-shinned Hawks and Cooper’s Hawks were under-observed, as were Red-tailed Hawks. Other species were fairly close to expectations. Did anything exceed recent numbers? Yes, Bald Eagles, 161 of them. They’ve averaged 140 over the last ten years.
Salem County’s vultures, accipiters, and buteos were, like the overall numbers, lower. Although Red-shouldered Hawks continue to be counted in higher numbers than what I, anyway, remember to be “normal.” Ditto vultures, accipiters, and buteos in Gloucester County, although its six Red-shoulders is twice the average of three. While Salem’s American Kestrels did not “dip,” [yay!] Gloucester struck out in that column.
Cumberland County saw higher numbers of vultures and eagles, and Red-tailed Hawks were lower there, also. Four American Kestrels is squarely about average. Cumberland’s twenty-five Northern Harriers kept the three-county total respectable, at least. Without that -- I don’t know.
The Patience Oakes and Beth Graham carload would not see any Short-eared Owls in the morning, but did snag the Rough-legged Hawk that is apparently leashed to one of Featherbed Lane’s fence posts. Another was seen by Mike Ivanick in Cumberland County. Jerry Haag found a Northern Goshawk on Monday, a rarity for this count. I saw a pair[!] of Kestrels and the three Peregrine Falcons is pretty much what we always record. Only two parties did not see Bald Eagles, one of them was certainly not in prime eagle habitat.
So I am wondering if more flexible planning of weather dates may be in store next time -- gotta think about how that would work. And I certainly hope that twelve months from now will be easier to navigate for all of us. I hope we don’t have to emulate Barb Bassett’s posse of four cars, tethered by walkie-talkies -- I guess it worked -- but that does demonstrate the lengths to which some of you went. Kudos. Next year will be February 6th. Or maybe the weekend of the 5th & 6th. Or maybe Monday, the 7th, too? Jeez! My people will talk to your people on that one.