Cape May Natural History Hotline - 10/14/2005

This is Pat Sutton with the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This hotline was prepared on Friday, October 14. Audubon's three hotlines can be read in full on our website (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on "Sightings" (top of any page).

It is the peak of the fall migration! And CMBOs sighting sheets are lengthy for each and every day as observers share all their wonderful sightings. Fifteen different weekly bird walks (requiring no preregistration) are offered now, each at a different birding hotspot! Be sure to go with the experts on one, several, or all of these walks to learn the areas and savor the fall unfolding. For details on each walk as well as CMBOs many preregistration programs go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

A rainy week it was, but the hardy visitors and locals who did not let the rain get the best of them had wonderful experiences. The October 11, Tuesday evening Stone Harbor Point outing in horizontal rain enjoyed BAIRDS SANDPIPER, AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER, 2 WHITE- RUMPED SANDPIPER, 3 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS, AMERICAN PIPIT, and 30 MARBLED GODWIT! The Stone Harbor Point Walk is offered every Tuesday evening in October at 4:30 p.m. until sunset and meets in the parking lot at the south end of Stone Harbor.

Over 14,900 raptors have been counted at the Cape May Hawkwatch since September 1. Rain, rain, rain this week kept raptor flights to a minimum except for the morning of October 12 (before the rains set in again) when 1,024 raptors were counted including: 24 OSPREY, 4 BALD EAGLES (bringing the season total to 139), 2 N. HARRIER, 805 SHARPSHINS, 144 COOPERS HAWKS, 12 BROADWINGS, 1 REDTAIL, 24 AM. KESTREL, 7 MERLIN, and 1 PEREGRINE (bringing the Peregrine season total to 983). Tomorrows coldfront (when the skies finally clear) should be a doozie. Think how hungry raptors will be! Spend some time on the hawkwatch learning ID with CMBOs seasonal naturalists and fellow hawkwatchers. Also be sure to attend one or several of the Hawk ID Mini-Workshops, offered each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through October 23 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Cape May Point State Park, meeting in the classroom. Or dive in with both feet and attend the CMBO Raptor Workshop taught by Pete Dunne and Pat Sutton (mentioned above).

The October 12, Wednesday evening Twilight Watch went with 9 hardy souls equipped with full rain gear. Yes, it was raining and the skies were 100% cloud covered, but gentle winds were from the north. Between 6:30 and 7 p.m. 100s of GREEN HERONS and NIGHT HERONS migrated over, squawking as they went. Flocks of 30-80 were spotted. By 7 p.m. as the last bit of light went out and full dark filled the skies, 1000s more passed over. One participant reported that the evening before (October 11) he had heard 100s migrating over. And another observer reports that there was a major flight the evening of October 10 too. CMBOs Twilight Watch for Migrating Owls, Bats, and Herons is offered every Wednesday evening from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. See you there!

530 BLACK SKIMMERS are roosting on Cape May Citys beachfront, somewhere between the Convention Center and 2nd Avenue Jetty. Treat yourself and go take a look at them, but not close enough to flush them. This concentration of skimmers on Cape Mays beaches occurs every fall as they stage here before migrating south. Each evening these nocturnal feeders head around the tip of the peninsula and up into the Delaware Bay to feed. On the Twilight Watch on October 12 we saw 100s of them moving towards the Bay at last light, about 6:40 p.m.

A WESTERN KINGBIRD was seen briefly at the Hawkwatch on October 11. A male HOODED WARBLER and 2 CAPE MAY WARBLERS were enjoyed October 13 at the Cape May Point State Park by the Hawkwatch Platform. They were all at the State Park again today, October 14, along with a DICKCISSEL and a BAIRDS SANDPIPER.

The nasty, rainy weather has made for great PARASITIC JAEGER watching. 6 were seen hunting off Cape May Point out over the rips and off The Meadows on October 12.

Recent strong winds took out the BALD EAGLE nest north of the Maurice River, visible from Jane Galettos dock and The Natural Lands Trusts Peek Preserve. On CMBOs Birding Cumberland on October 9, the 2 adult Bald Eagles were in the area (one in the nest tree and the 2nd feeding nearby), but the nest was gone. Hopefully they will rebuild!

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS are still regular at some feeders in the Villas and near the Rea Farm and Hidden Valley. Even though Ruby- throated Hummingbirds have thinned out, dont take your feeders down. Rare western hummingbirds arrive once the Ruby-throats have left. A feeder might alert you to its presence. So, continue to clean and maintain Hummingbird feeders right through December. And call us if you have a hummingbird in October, November, or December.

The NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program shared the success for the Stone Harbor Point beachnesting bird colony summer 2005. There were 10 pairs of PIPING PLOVER that fledged 10 young (this is how many young were fledged in total over the last 5 years combined ... so an excellent year!). 10 pairs of AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER fledged 7 young. 71 adult LEAST TERNS only fledged 3 young due to lots of flooding / high tides and predators (mostly LAUGHING GULLS). Sad! 950 adult COMMON TERNS fledged only 89 young, also due to flooding / high tides and predators. The big success story is the BLACK SKIMMERS. 1,800 adult BLACK SKIMMERS fledged 550 young, the best year in recent memory!

It has been a poor week for butterflies and dragonflies. These insects are solar powered and just not able to fly when it is too cold or too wet. Butterflies are here, but have been laying low waiting for clearings and warm temperatures. Despite this, some good sightings occurred this week. Two OCOLA SKIPPERS were seen in CMBOs Gardens in Goshen on October 7, along with FIERY SKIPPER, AMERICAN LADY, and numbers of CLOUDLESS SULPHURS. An OCOLA SKIPPER was at Cape May Beach on October 8. MONARCHS have been held up here through all this rain and every garden has hosted a few. MONARCH eggs and caterpillars are still being found. An egg found on October 12 in Cape May Point on Tropical Milkweed will finally become an adult Monarch no earlier than November 12. Many BLACK SWALLOWTAIL caterpillars were still being found on October 12 on Fennel in Cape May Point. E. PONDHAWKS and BLUE-FACED MEADOWHAWKS are flying now. The final butterfly walk of the fall will be offered Sunday, October 16: Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk with Louise Zemaitis at 10 a.m., meeting at Pavilion Circle Gardens in Cape May Point.

Saturdays clearing and coldfront and its associated north and northwest winds could bring the next big wave of MONARCHS. The last big push was September 30 and October 1. Play the weather & plan to be here this weekend! The SEASIDE GOLDENROD in the dunes is one of the best nectar plants for them. GROUNDSEL-TREE is in bloom and catching the eye with its fluffy white flowers, which often attract Monarchs! The final CMBO Monarch Tagging Demos will be offered October 15, 16, 17, and 19 (weather permitting) at 2 p.m. at the Cape May Point State Park in the picnic shelter next to the Hawk Watch / Wildlife Viewing Platform. To learn of the history of the Monarch migration through Cape May go to: http://www.njaudubon.org then click on Research and then on Monarch Monitoring Project.

If you raised Monarch caterpillars indoors, youll want to visit the 2 websites shared below that educate about different parasites, bacteria, and viruses that can kill Monarchs. One such parasite (OE, short for Ophryocystis elektroskirrha) is being spread by caterpillar sales and wedding releases. http://www.monarchparasites.org http://www.monarchwatch.org (Click on biology, predation, parasite control)

With all the shorebirds around consider taking one of the Back Bay Boat Cruises, offered every Sunday through November 20 (10 a.m. till 1 p.m.) and every Monday through October 24 (10 a.m. till 1 p.m.) and sponsored by CMBO. To register for the cruises call The Skimmer at 609-884-3100.

GREAT HORNED OWLS, our earliest nesting birds, are already declaring their territories at dusk, dueting to one another. Fall coldfronts will bring migrating SAW-WHET, LONG-EARED, SHORT-EARED, and BARN OWLS. CMBO has 3 All About Owls: Workshop & Field Trip scheduled on Saturdays: October 22 (1:30 to 6:30 p.m.), November 12 (Noon to 5 p.m.), December 3 (Noon to 5 p.m.). All still have room. To register or learn more information call 609-861-0700, x-11.

Fall is a great time to plant a butterfly and hummingbird garden. Many native perennials that will attract both butterflies & hummingbirds are available for sale at the CMBO Center in Goshen. For a list of these plants and extensive information about gardening for hummingbirds, butterflies and wildlife in general, visit the World of Backyard Habitat pages on NJ Audubons website: http: http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat

Learn about wildlife gardening while helping Pat Sutton maintain the CMBO Gardens in Goshen during the final Garden Maintenance Workshop on Friday, October 21, from 9 a.m. till Noon.

The CMBO Avalon Seawatch began September 22. Due to construction at 7th Street, this years watch and Seabird ID Mini-Workshops are being conducted at 8th Street. The first Seabird ID Mini-Workshop will be held Saturday, October 8, 2 to 4 p.m., at 7th Street, and every Saturday through November 12 (except October 29).

Some very special CMBO field trips still have room: Great Egg Harbor River Cruise (with Pat and possibly Clay Sutton & Karen Johnson) on October 15 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), All About Owls Workshop & Field Trip on October 22 (1:30 to 6:30 p.m.), Cape May NWR Field Trip: Delaware Bay Division on November 12 (8 to 11 a.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11 for more information or to register.

NJ Audubons 59th Annual Cape May Autumn Weekend / THE Bird Show will be held October 28, 29, and 30. Go to http://www.njaudubon.org to download the brochure or stop by either CMBO Center. The Cape May Convention Center will be filled with 50 vendors from all over the country and non-stop field trips, programs, boat trips and more will offered from dawn to dark all three days!

Several GREAT workshops are coming up. Pete Dunne and Pat Sutton will teach a raptor workshop Raptors II: Buteos, Eagles, and Great Diversity on October 26-27. Waterfowl with Michael OBrien & Louise Zemaitis on November 25 & 26. CMBOs 2005 Workshops are ideal ways to learn. To register call 609-861-0700. For more information go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks05.html

The Cape May Bird Observatory offers an extensive series of regular bird walks that require no pre-registration and many special field trips and programs for which advanced registration is required. All are detailed in the Kestrel Express. To receive a copy of the Fall Kestrel Express (September through November) stop at either CMBO Center, call the office during business hours at 609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's web site: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

This Cape May Natural History and Events Hotline is a service of the Cape May Bird Observatory, which is a research, conservation, and education unit of the New Jersey Audubon Society. Our aim is to preserve and perpetuate the ornithological and natural history significance of Cape May. Your membership supports these goals and this hotline. We detail sightings from Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties. Updates are typically made on Thursdays. Please report your natural history sightings to CMBO's Center in Goshen at 609-861-0700. Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!

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