Cape May Natural History Hotline - 10/17/2002
You have reached the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This update was made on Thursday, October 17. 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."

The Cape May Bird Observatory Center for Research & Education in Goshen (600 Route 47 North) is hosting an exhibit of David Sibley's early works (THE ART OF DAVID SIBLEY, JOURNEYMAN BIRDER) through November 17th. Stop by any day between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The exhibit is made up entirely of pieces from private collections and includes some of David's early field guide plates.

The TREE SWALLOW show is reaching a crescendo. 10,000+ are involved and at dusk they fill the horizon and all at once spiral down into marshes near the Point in a mighty vortex.

A sizable flock of BLACK SKIMMERS has gathered on Cape May's beaches and is often seen near 2nd Avenue Jetty.

Since October 11 (and through today, Oct. 17) the PARASITIC JAEGER show in the Cape May "rips" (where the ocean meets the bay) continues. One of the best vantage points has been the raised picnic pavilion at the Cape May Point State Park. Look for the jaegers as they chase gulls and terns to steal their food.

CMBO's first Night Watch on October 16 enjoyed migrating Great Blue Herons, night herons, American Bittern, Common Snipe, Common Nighthawk, the amazing Tree Swallow "show," and several late hunting Merlins. The October 21 "Night Watch for Migrating Bats, Owls, and Herons," 5:30-7:30 p.m., still has room & the full moon that night should make for quite a show if the skies are clear!

Last week's big butterfly news, 2 QUEENS and 1 SOLDIER, met with lots of feedback. There has been evidence of intentional releases of farmed butterflies elsewhere and this could very well be the case here in South Jersey. We've just learned of a MIMIC that was photographed in a garden in the Villas in September; this butterfly is even a rare stray to Florida, much less New Jersey.

It continues to be good for southern vagrants: CLOUDLESS SULPHUR (dozens daily everywhere), VARIEGATED FRITILLARY (10/11 at Higbee Beach), LONG-TAILED SKIPPER (10/13 at Pavilion Circle Garden in Cape May Point), FIERY SKIPPERS (10+ on 10/17 at Pavilion Circle Gardens), SACHEMS (5+ on 10/17 at Pavilion Circle Gardens). Also seen this week: Cabbage Whites, Orange Sulphurs, White M Hairstreak, Mourning Cloak, American Ladies, Red Admiral, #s Common Buckeye. Hotspots include butterfly bushes in and around Pavilion Circle Gardens in Cape May Point and in the parking lot at Higbee Beach, and the Cape May Bird Observatory's gardens in Goshen. Be sure to also check the Heath Asters (in full bloom) at Higbee Beach & Hidden Valley.

On October 17, following the rainy northeaster when the skies cleared and winds switched to the north and northwest many MONARCHS arrived at Cape May Point. CMBO's Monarch Monitoring Project will continue to monitor Monarchs till the end of October, but so far their migration through Cape May this fall has been below average. To learn more about this project go to NJ Audubon's web site: (http://www.njaudubon.org/Research) and click on "Monarch Monitoring Project." Results of this fall's daily road census results are at the end (click on "2002 Road Census").

CMBO's Avalon Seawatch began September 22. Please welcome seabird counter Karl Bardon and seawatch interpretive naturalist Tricia Rodriguez the next time you are there. 95,800 seabirds have been tallied as of October 15th, with some mega, mega flights this past week (19,900 on Oct. 15; 13,600 on Oct. 14, and 12,500 on Oct. 12). The bulk of the flight is Double-crested Cormorant (12,000 on 10/12), Surf Scoter (9,650 on 10/15) and Black Scoter (1,300 on 10/9). Common Loons are daily (71 on 10/15) with some Red-throated Loons mixed in (26 on 10/15). N. Gannets numbers are growing (229 on 10/11). There have been 11 Great Cormorant so far mixed in, so be alert. Snow Geese & Brant are on the move. The season's first Long-tailed Duck (1) and Red-breasted Merganser (8) were seen October 15. 115 Parasitic Jaegers have been seen so far with a high of 12 this week on October 12. Learn your seabirds by attending CMBO's "Seabird ID Mini-Workshop,"taught at the Avalon Seawatch, on Saturday, October 18, from 10 a.m. to Noon.

CMBO's Cape May Autumn Hawkwatch began September 1st with hawk counter Jason Guerard and our two hawkwatch interpretive naturalists Denny Ariola and Michael Retter. Between September 1st and the October 16th 21,500 raptors have been counted. Today's coldfront (Oct. 17) is not doubt producing the next big flight following a rainy Northeaster, but numbers won't be available for this hotline. Remember, coldfronts are the key. Time your visit & outings to coincide with coldfronts, winds from the north & northwest.

Begin your Cape May weekend by attending CMBO's final Friday evening "Open House" on October 18, from 7-8:30 p.m. at our Center for Research & Education in Goshen (600 Rt. 47 N.). The night begins with an update on the past week's migration and predictions for the weekend, and is followed by the program. Pat & Clay Sutton will share, "25 Seasons at the Point," an informal slide collage of sites, people, and projects over time, including historical shots of some of your favorite birding sites . . . the meadows w/cows, the beanery w/machinery, the Magnasite Plant in full operation, and more.

"Back Bay Birding By Boat" trips (every Sunday & Monday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) get you out into the normally inaccessible waters behind the barrier islands, rich hotspots for shorebirds, rails, hunting hawks, herons and egrets, and more.

The late season songbirds are IN -- Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers, both kinglets, Brown Creepers and more! CMBO walks have been very birdy; be sure to attend one or all of these bird walks to witness migration unfolding. "Sunset Birding at the Meadows" at 5:00 p.m. every Friday evening and "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point & Nummy's Island" at 4:30 p.m. every Tuesday evening. "Birding with Pete Dunne" (every Monday), "Birding Cape May Point" (every Wednesday), "Hidden Valley Bird Walk"(every Thursday), and "Fall Migrants at the Rea Farm" (Saturday, Oct. 19) are all from 7:30-9:30 a.m. "Higbee Beach Bird Walk" (Sunday, Oct. 20) is from 7-9 a.m. Two one-hour introductory programs include: "The Nature of Cape May" (Sunday, Oct. 20) from 2-3 p.m. and "Enjoying Migration at Cape May" (Every Wednesday) from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Join Mark Garland for the specially arranged outing to a variety of "Migration Hotspots" on October 19, from 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

SEASIDE GOLDENROD's golden-yellow blooms are spectacular in the dunes and natural gardens. GROUNDSEL-TREE is also blooming. The white shrubs are female and the showiest. Female RED CEDAR trees are blue with berries. POISON IVY berries are formed & the leaves are turning brilliant colors.

To receive a copy of CMBO's program schedule with full details about these walks and upcoming programs, stop by either CMBO Center, or call 609-861-0700, or visit New Jersey Audubon's web site at http://www.njaudubon.org (click on "Calendar," then on "Cape May Bird Observatory").

Hummingbird sightings are very scarce now; Ruby-throats have all migrated through. Leave your feeders up, though, since NOW is when rarities from the west show up. Black-chinned, Calliope, Rufous, and Allen's Hummingbird have all been seen in Cape May County. Stop by CMBO to see our full selection of easy-to-maintain feeders and to get CMBO's handout on hummingbird feeder directions and maintenance. Coupling a feeder with habitat and gardens is the key. Stroll through the CMBO gardens (still in full bloom in early October) to get ideas for your own garden.

CMBO still has room on upcoming 4-5 Day Classic Workshops focused Raptors (Oct. 20-24) and Owls (Jan. 17-27). NJ Audubon's 56th Annual Cape May Autumn Weekend / The Bird Show is October 25-27, 3 full days of workshops, field trips, programs, boat trips, & more. Many celebrities will be part of the event. Call, write, or stop by CMBO for brochures on each or visit NJ Audubon's web site.

The Cape May Bird Observatory is a research and education unit of the New Jersey Audubon Society. Our aim is to perpetuate and preserve the ornithological and natural history significance of Cape May. Your membership supports these goals and this Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline (updated Thursday evening).

Our two centers are CMBO's Center for Research & Education at 600 Route 47 North in Goshen and CMBO's Northwood Center at 701 East Lake Drive in Cape May Point. Both are open DAILY, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information call 609-861-0700. Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!

Patricia Sutton, Program Director 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) pat_sutton@njaudubon.org

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