CMBO has established a long term survey of raptors wintering in the coastal marshes of southern New Jersey. Volunteer observers conduct point counts on designated weekend evenings (once in mid-January and again in mid-February) at selected points in Cape May, Cumberland, Salem and Atlantic counties. 360 degree scans with binoculars and/or telescopes are conducted every fifteen minutes from one hour before sunset to one-half hour after sunset. Counts of all raptor species are recorded, but the survey is focused on Northern Harrier and Short-eared Owl.
Here are the results from the survey conducted January 23, 2010:
winter marsh raptor survey results January 23 2010.pdf
This year's survey is only somewhat comparable with last year's pilot survey, since we extended the survey period by one half hour and added several sites. With that in mind, we can look at the results normalized to birds per site. Northern Harrier numbers were close to last year's survey, with an average of 9 birds per site. There were fewer Short-eared Owls compared to last year's excellent showing by this species. Eagle numbers were up, but that could be an artifact of the survey starting one half hour earlier.
The second 2010 survey will be February 20, with a weather date of February 21. Heartfelt thanks to all who participated!