CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY AND EVENTS HOTLINE, October 16, 2003
You have reached the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a
service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This
message was prepared on Thursday, October 16. For bird news call the
Cape May Birding Hotline at (609) 898-2473. NJ Audubon's three hotlines
can be read in full on our web site (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on
"Sightings" at the top of any page.
CMBO's 6th Autumn Open House program will be held on Saturday evening,
October 18, at 7:30 p.m. at the CMBO Center in Goshen (600 Route 47
North). BJ Pinnock, a CMBO Associate Naturalist, will share "Videos
From Her Birding Adventure in Australia." Come be dazzled! These
informal programs by local naturalists have been held each Saturday this
fall. The final program, October 25, will be Paul Lehman on "Fall
Birding in the Bering Sea Region of Alaska." Mark your calendars!
As CMBO Senior Naturalist, Mark Garland, so aptly put it, "Cape May is
firing on all cylinders!" From the Morning Flight, to the Avalon
Seawatch, to the Cape May Hawkwatch, to the Monarch Project. The
numbers of migrants have been incredible!
There was a large flight of songbirds on October 11, including mostly
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS (several 1,000), PALM WARBLERS, N. FLICKER, and
SWAMP SPARROWS. CMBO's Cape May Morning Flight Project, based at the
Higbee Dike, two days later on October 13 recorded 67,000+ warblers
(with 30,000 passing in the first hour), sparrows, and 1000s of N.
FLICKERS. Most of the warbler flight was made up of YELLOW-RUMPED
WARBLERS (59,000) and PALM WARBLERS (1,500). Needless to say,
Yellow-rumped Warblers are everywhere now! Their "kiss-like" calls can
be heard as they flit from reed to reed, Bayberry bush to Waxmyrtle
bush. The Morning Flight Project, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Optical,
occurs at Higbee Beach on the dike, every morning from sunrise until
four hours later. Join observers and CMBO educators Chris Vogel or
Julie Diebold on the small observation tower just before the parking lot
at the end of the road to the jetty. A "Morning Flight" workshop/watch
will be held on the platform every Saturday and Sunday, 8:00-8:30 a.m.,
through October 26.
Sparrows are IN now too, as you've learned from the "Cape May Birding
Hotline!" 30 SAVANNAH SPARROWS were at Woodcock Lane in the Cape May
NWR on October 14. LINCOLN SPARROW sightings continued on October 16 at
the Rea Farm and at Higbee Beach. NELSON'S SHARP-TAILED SPARROW and
SALTMARSH SHARP-TAILED SPARROW were both enjoyed at Two Mile Landing on
Ocean Drive on October 12. WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS are back and
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS are regular too. With the peak time for sparrow
numbers and diversity here NOW don't miss the great "2-day Sparrow
Workshop" with Michael O'Brien and Louise Zemaitis, Saturday and Sunday,
October 25-26. There are still a few places left; call 609-861-0700,
The CMBO Avalon Seawatch, sponsored by Nikon Sports Optics, tallied over
79,000 seabirds between September 22 and October 14, including an
amazing flight of over 21,000 on October 11! Andy Wraithmell, from the
U.K, and Bob Diebold are this year's counters and Julie Diebold is the
Interpretive Naturalist. 1000s of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS are moving
(@ 3,000 most days with 9,500 on Oct. 11), 100s of GREEN-WINGED TEAL
(with an amazing flight of 1,150 on Oct. 14), 1,000s of scoters (2,800
BLACK SCOTER & 3,000 SURF SCOTER on Oct. 11). Other species to expect
at the Seawatch include COMMON LOONS (35 on Oct. 14), N. GANNET (62 on
Oct. 11), BRANT (50 on Oct. 11), WOOD DUCK (67 on Oct. 13), N. PINTAIL
(37 on Oct. 15), and GREATER SCAUP (73 on Oct. 14). PARASITIC JAEGERS
put on a show daily: 12 on Oct. 10, 14 on Oct. 11, 6 on Oct. 14. The
October 14 "Jaeger Show" included 2 chasing a Laughing Gull and then
each other. The season's first HORNED GREBE and RED-BREASTED MERGANSER
were seen October 14, and the first HOODED MERGANSER on October 13.
GREAT CORMORANT are seen most days (mixed in with large cormorant
flocks). A 2nd year male COMMON EIDER was swimming by the jetty at the
Seawatch on October 11. To feel more comfortable identifying birds at
the Avalon Seawatch attend the "Seabird ID Mini-Workshop" held every
Saturday at the Seawatch (7th street and the beach in Avalon), 2-4 p.m.
The Cape May Hawkwatch, again sponsored by Swarovski Optik, has tallied
over 30,000 raptors since September 1, including 121 BALD EAGLES.
Recent coldfronts (north and northwest winds) triggered big flights this
week on October 10 (1,023), 12 (2,224), and 13 (4,500). Bald Eagles
have been daily, including 16 on Oct. 13. The rest of these big flights
have included (with some high counts noted): OSPREY (138 on Oct. 11), N.
HARRIER (135 on Oct. 13), SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (2,662 on Oct. 13),
COOPER'S HAWK (570 on Oct. 13), BROAD-WINGED HAWK (619 on Oct. 13),
AMERICAN KESTREL (863 on Oct. 12), MERLIN (78 on Oct. 12), and PEREGRINE
(55 on Oct. 10. One other highlight of the week was the dark
BROAD-WINGED HAWK on October 13, only the 2nd record at Cape May. If
you're keen to learn your raptors, join CMBO's seasonal interpretive
naturalists up on the hawkwatch (all day every day), and also consider
attending one of the "Hawk ID Mini-Workshops," every Friday and
Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. This workshop begins with an
indoor session in the Cape May Point State Park classroom and ends with
an outdoor session testing your skills on real live raptors overhead.
This fall, Monarchs began migrating through Cape May late (late
September rather than early September) and may continue to migrate late
into the season in good numbers. Time will tell. Observers near
Shelburne, Vermont reported 53 southbound MONARCHS on October 13 passing
by at lunchtime (1 Monarch every 2 minutes). CMBO's Monarch Monitoring
Project, sponsored by Bushnell Sports Optics, had one of the season's
biggest movements on October 9 and another on October 13. Today,
October 16, gardens all over the Cape May Peninsula were carpeted with
Monarchs. The Avalon Seawatch tallies Monarchs migrating by and an
amazing 7,200 were counted between September 22 and October 14,
including 726 on October 12 and 1,125 on October 13. The Monarch
Project has tagged over 3,000 Monarchs so far this fall. Coldfronts are
the key (north and northwest winds) and push Monarchs to the tip of the
Cape May Peninsula. If we're spared icy cold, killing conditions,
Monarchs will continue maybe into early November. Till then, keep an
eye on the weather & hop in a car to Cape May when temperatures drop
(due to coldfronts) and you'll be sure to witness the next flight! To
view the history of this project go to:
http://www.njaudubon.org/Research and click on "Monarch Monitoring
A noticeable migration of MONARCHS and other butterflies at East Point
in Cumberland County on October 13, included RED ADMIRALS, QUESTION
MARKS, COMMON BUCKEYES, and several CLOUDLESS SULPHURS. OCOLA SKIPPERS
continue at CMBO's Gardens in Goshen (Oct. 14), along the Maurice River
in Cumberland Co. (Oct. 13), and at Cape May Point in Pavilion Circle
Garden and backyard gardens (Oct. 16). SACHEM is the commonest skipper
now. 2 FIERY SKIPPERS were at Cape May Point on October 13. No reports
of LONG-TAILED SKIPPER this week. VARIEGATED FRITILLARY have been seen
at CMBO's Gardens in Goshen (Oct. 14), Higbee Beach (Oct. 14), and the
Rea Farm (Oct. 15). October 16, MONARCH caterpillars were still on
Milkweed in Cape May Point and BLACK SWALLOWTAIL caterpillars were still
on Parsley and Fennel around Cape May County. On the dragonfly front,
BLUE-FACED MEADOWHAWK and BLUE DASHER were enjoyed in Cape May Point on
October 16. There are two more opportunities to join Karen Williams and
learn about Garden Maintenance: Friday, October 17 & 24 (9:30 a.m.-Noon)
for a "Garden Maintenance Workshop" at the CMBO center in Goshen. Plant
divisions are often delightful payment for your labor and the chance to
learn so much from Karen as you work. Terrific plants for butterfly &
hummingbird gardens are FOR SALE at the CMBO Center in Goshen through
Pat Sutton and others on the Wednesday evening (Oct. 15) "Twilight Watch
for Migrating Owls, Bats, & Herons" (offered every Wednesday, 5:30-7:30
p.m., at "The Meadows") enjoyed late hunting MERLINS, or "Merlin
Madness" as Pete Dunne fondly calls their late-in-the-day activity.
Also in the gale of wind WILSON'S SNIPE passed over, a flock of 12 GREAT
BLUE HERONS migrated by "on the deck," or right over the waves, and a
bat. If you were out on the night of October 10 when the wind was still
and the sky was clear, a perfect night for migration, you perhaps heard
the hundreds and hundreds of BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS migrating over.
The morning of October 11, Jason Guerard, our Hawk Counter, tallied over
300 GREAT BLUE HERONS migrating by, mostly in the first four hours of
the day. On October 16, an owl was seen briefly from the Hawkwatch as
it lifted out of the cedars and settled back in. Katy Duffy and her
husband Patrick Matheny will arrive October 25 to again band migrating
owls at Cape May. Once this project begins we'll have a better idea of
the number and diversity of owls migrating through. We are getting into
the peak time for migrating owls, hence Katy's arrival! If you're keen
on owls, be sure to sign up for "All About Owls: Workshop & Field Trip"
with Pat Sutton on October 25 (2-6:30 p.m.), by calling 609-861-0700,
It's the peak of fall migration and there are lots of ways to enjoy it.
CMBO offers an incredible array of morning and evening walks, held at
all the top birding spots, that require no preregistration! Walks not
already mentioned follow. EVERY FRIDAY: "Higbee Beach Bird Walk," 7-9;
"Sunset Birding at the Meadows," 5:00-dusk. EVERY SATURDAY: "Fall
Migrants at the Rea Farm," 7:30-9:30 a.m.; "Morning Flight" 8-8:30 a.m.;
and "The Nature of Cape May Point with Mark Garland!," 1:30-3:30 p.m.
EVERY SUNDAY: "Birding Two Mile Beach," (7:30-9:30 a.m.); "Morning
Flight" 8-8:30 a.m. EVERY MONDAY: "Mondays at the Meadows," 7:30-9:30
a.m. EVERY TUESDAY: "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point," 4:30 p.m.
to sunset. EVERY WEDNESDAY: " Birding Cape May Point," 7:30-9:30 a.m.
EVERY THURSDAY: "Hidden Valley Bird Walk," 7:30-9:30 a.m.; "Birding For
First Timers," 1-3 p.m. (perfect for newcomers to birding).
To explore the normally inaccessible back bay marshes, join Captain Bob
Carlough on one of the CMBO sponsored "Back Bay Birding By Boat" cruises
aboard "The Skimmer," every Sunday and Monday (10:00 a.m. to Noon).
Call Wildlife Unlimited (609-884-3100) to register for these
CMBO-sponsored trips. 100s of AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS are being seen,
as well as godwits and other shorebirds by the 1000s!
Some special preregistration programs that still have room and also
focus in what is special about migration NOW include: "Marvel at
Migration" with Mark Garland on October 19 (7 a.m. to Noon), "Weekend
Field Trip to Assateague Island" with Mark Garland October 8 & 9,
"Gannets Galore" on October 15 (8-11 a.m.), and "Cape May NWR Field
Trip" on October 15 (1-4 p.m.) To register call 609-861-0700, x-11.
Our upcoming "57th Annual Cape May Autumn Weekend / THE Bird Show," a
3-day weekend October 31 through November 2, should not be missed. Call
CMBO for details!
HUMMINGBIRD sightings have been nil this week. But now that
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have left, do not assume that any hummingbird
you see is a Ruby-throat. From now through December visiting
hummingbirds are more likely to be odd strays from the west. Also don't
expect them to be easy IDs, since they'll probably be immatures. Call
CMBO with any hummingbird sightings from now on! AND, continue to
maintain your feeders weekly (clean thoroughly) right up till freezing
temperatures. CMBO carries HummZinger feeders, which are one of the
easiest feeders to clean, very well-thought out, and even educational
(including directions for the correct feeding solution). Stop by &
check them out.
1000s of TREE SWALLOWS continue to dazzle observers as they feed and
whirl around "the Meadows." Tree Swallows feed on BAYBERRIES and
WAXMYRTLE berries, both of which are ripe now in the dunes along "the
Meadows," Cape May Point, at Higbee Beach, and all up and down the
coastline where dunes still exist. Enjoy this spectacle through the
fall as they gather in numbers and migrate through. All the other
swallows are strictly insect eaters, so more vulnerable as cold
temperatures hit and far less common late in the fall. BLACK SKIMMERS
stage on our beaches each fall, with numbers growing as the fall
progresses. The flock on Cape May's beachfront continues and might be
found anywhere from the Convention Center to 2nd Avenue Jetty. Another
flock of about 100 is on Strathmere's beach, north of Avalon. They'll
be here for some time, often resting on the beach by day.
WOOLY BEAR CATERPILLARS are very much in evidence now. They are the
caterpillar stage of various TIGER MOTHS. WINTERBERRY HOLLY, a
deciduous holly has recently lost its leaves, making its beautiful red
berries (along the length of each branch) very eye-catching right now.
Other wild foods that are favorites with migrant birds now include
WINGED SUMAC and POISON IVY. SEASIDE GOLDENROD is still in bloom and
attracting nectaring Monarchs and other butterflies. Female
GROUNDSEL-TREE bushes are showy now as their white flowers get fluffy
and begin to blow about. Many trees are turning color now!
To receive a copy of CMBO's Program Schedule, stop at one of the two
centers, call the office during business hours at 609-861-0700, or go to
New Jersey Audubon's web site where a full listing of CMBO's FALL 2003
PROGRAMS (September - November) is posted at:
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 around Cape May County, and also
include reports from Cumberland and Atlantic Counties. Updates are
typically made on Thursdays. Natural history sightings can be written
on sighting sheets at either CMBO center or called in to 609-861-0700.
Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!
New Jersey Audubon Society's
Cape May Bird Observatory
Center for Research & Education
600 Route 47 North
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
609-861-0700, x-16 (phone) / 609-861-1651 (fax)