Cape May Natural History Hotline - 10/20/2001

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 Saturday, October 20th. The Cape May Birding Hotline has moved to 609-898-BIRD (sorry for any inconvenience).

CMBO's Cape May Hawkwatch crew this fall is composed of Bruce McWhorter, the counter; Brennan Mulrooney, the back-up counter, and two Interpretive Naturalists, Jennifer Leyhe and Derek Lovitch. Jennifer and Derek are on the Cape May Hawkwatch Platform at the Cape May Point State Park each day to help folks with raptor identification and understanding the flight. Normally raptors are low and hunting in the early morning and again by mid-to-late afternoon and early evening. Mid-day they are often quite high, due to thermals or warm air rising.

The CAPE MAY HAWKWATCH began on September 1st and is now in its second month. As of October 19th over 20,200 raptors have been recorded. A sprinkling of late season Broad-winged Hawks are still coming through, with 24 on the 18th and 13 on the 19th. This past week will be remembered for the falcon flight on October 17th, with 154 MERLIN (true 'Merlin Madness' right up until dark), 133 AMERICAN KESTREL, and 21 PEREGRINES. BALD EAGLES continue to migrate through daily, with 7 on the 18th, 3 on the 19th, and a total of 176 to date. A big accipiter flight on October 18th included 730 SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS and 89 COOPER'S HAWKS. The season's 2nd GOSHAWK came through on the 19th. RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS were mixed in with good numbers of RED-TAILS (55 on the 18th and 23 on the 19th). All week CMBO's 5-day Raptor Migration Workshop group enjoyed look after look at close hunting and migrating accipiters, falcons, buteos, vultures, and Bald Eagles. To view the CMBO Hawkwatch daily totals, go to: http://www.capemaytimes.com/birds/hawkwatch.htm#totals

The NJ Endangered & Nongame Species Program recently shared that NJ's nesting Bald Eagle population now stands at 31 pairs. These adults do not migrate, and in recent weeks observers have noticed that many of them are again spending time back at their nest. Bald Eagles and Great Horned Owls are our earliest nesting birds, so they are already setting up territories.

CMBO's Avalon Seawatch crew this fall is composed of Karl Bardon, the counter, Brennan Mulrooney, the back-up counter, Cameron Cox, the Interpretive Naturalist, and CMBO Associate Naturalists Gail Dwyer and BJ Pinnock, who taught Seabird ID Mini-workshops at the Avalon Seawatch (7th Street and the beach in Avalon) each Saturday and Sunday, at 10 a.m., through October 21. Bring a scope and your binoculars and enjoy the flight of seabirds as they migrate south along the coastline, often passing quite close to the Seawatch at the north end of Avalon because it juts a mile out into the ocean.

The AVALON SEAWATCH began on September 22nd and has already recorded 150,600 seabirds. This past week has seen some incredible flights, with 25,000 on October 9th, 14,000 on the 13th, and 20,700 on the 16th! 20-30 COMMON LOONS are passing by daily. N. GANNETS have begun to migrate, with 93 on the 14th. 1,000s of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT are being counted daily, including a flight of 17,000 on the 16th. Look for GREAT CORMORANT mixed in; there were 3 on the 16th and 2 on the 17th. 1,000s of scoters are passing by the seawatch now, predominantly BLACK SCOTER and SURF SCOTER with a very few WHITE-WINGED SCOTER mixed in. PARASITIC JAEGER are nearly daily, with an amazing 12 on the 11th, 8 on the 12th, 15 on the 14th, 4 on the 15th, 3 on the 18th, and 7 on the 19th.

CMBO's Monarch Monitoring Project began September 1st. Chris Kisiel is this fall's Monarch Migration Technician. Over 6,000 Monarchs have been tagged at Cape May Point by this project in the past month and a half, and already 2 of our tagged Monarchs have been seen ALIVE further south on their migration route. One tagged by CMBO at Cape May Point on September 22, was seen by Denise Gibbs on September 28th at Chincoteague, Virginia. A second tagged by CMBO at Cape May Point on September 29 was seen by Denise Gibbs on October 8 at Chincoteague, Virginia. For a history of CMBO's Monarch Monitoring Project and details on this fall's weekly road census, go to: http://www.concord.org/~dick/mon.html

Good numbers of Monarchs are still being seen migrating through the Cape May Peninsula. One hundred were in the dunes at Cape May Point State Park on October 18th nectaring on Seaside Goldenrod, another 50 were counted on October 18th as they migrated by the Avalon Seawatch, and lone migrants are in the air everywhere you look, being seen floating south over the Parkway, through and over gardens throughout the peninsula, down the dune line, over Nummy's Island. Monarchs will continue to migrate through with each cold front, though by late October and into November each sighting will be a treat.

Some local Monarchs are still mating, laying eggs on Milkweed, and dying. These eggs will develop and become the final fall generation (the generation that migrates), about a month or so after the egg is laid. Caterpillars and chrysalises can still be found in gardens with tender milkweed plants.

Butterfly diversity is waning now. Though on October 20th CMBO's gardens in Goshen held 12 species, including a dozen BLACK SWALLOWTAIL caterpillars, GRAY HAIRSTREAK, AMERICAN LADY, PAINTED LADY, RED ADMIRAL, COMMON BUCKEYE, COMMON CHECKERED SKIPPER, and SACHEM. Other species to look for include CLOUDLESS SULPHUR (one seen Oct. 16 at the Rea Farm), and LITTLE YELLOW (3 belatedly reported, seen Oct. 12 in Cumberland County).

Good places to view and enjoy migrating & nectaring butterflies (BUT NOT TO COLLECT or MANHANDLE them, since all gardens in South Jersey are butterfly sanctuaries!!!) include the various public gardens in Cape May County, all of which are noted on CMBO's "Birding & Butterflying Map": (1) Hereford Inlet Lighthouse Gardens in North Wildwood, (2) Pavilion Circle Gardens in Cape May Point, (3) Cape May Water Conservation Garden in Cape May, (4) Cape May Bird Observatory's Center for Research & Education "Model Backyard Habitat" gardens in Goshen, (5) Cape May Bird Observatory's Northwood Center gardens in Cape May Point, (6) NJ Audubon's Nature Center of Cape May gardens in Cape May, and on many of CMBO's scheduled bird and or butterfly walks (in the various natural areas around Cape May and Cape May County).

Be sure to take advantage of the many CMBO programs. For full details about the various bird walks, workshops, field trips, and programs happening right now go to New Jersey Audubon Society's web site (http://www.njaudubon.org) -- then to "Fall Program Schedule" -- then to Cape May Bird Observatory . . . or go directly there by typing in the following website: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

New Jersey Audubon's web site has the Cape May County Butterfly Checklist available as a download: http://www.njaudubon.org/NatureNotes/bflies.html

A zillion YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS migrated over on October 16th and zillions are here now, scattering as you walk the Cape May Point State Park trails and elsewhere. Major TREE SWALLOW flights occurred on October 15th and 17th, a true spectacle described by some as "aerial plankton" so thick it was hard to see migrating raptors. E. PHOEBES have been attracted to the CMBO Center in Goshen gardens and other protected meadows where insects are plentiful still. A large flock of BLACK SKIMMERS (@ 100) continues to roost on Cape May's beach near 2nd Avenue jetty.

Wildlife gardens in Cape May and Cumberland Counties continue to report one or two RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS. On October 18, one visited a garden in the Villas. Most Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have migrated south. From now on, question any hummingbird you see, even if it looks like a female or immature Ruby-throated Hummingbird, since western rarities occur from now on.

Male GREAT HORNED OWLS have been setting up territories by hooting at dawn and dusk for several weeks now. If you should hear the male's hoot, "whoo-who-who-who, whoooo, whoooo," you can be assured that a pair will nest somewhere nearby come January.

COYOTES continue to be seen and heard in the Higbee Beach area and along New England Road. These new residents are doing an excellent job of keeping feral cats under control, or so it seems, since very few feral cats have been seen since the Coyotes moved into the area . . . certainly a positive change for migratory songbirds!

Fall colors have swept through the forests and road shoulders. Sumac and Virginia Creeper add crimson red. Even poison ivy is gorgeous this time of year with its multicolored leaves and white berries. Stands of Pokeweed, Virginia Creeper, and Arrowwood Viburnum are ripe with deep purple berries now and drawing in good numbers of migrant songbirds, especially Catbirds and Thrushes. Migrant birds are also counting on Bayberries, Waxmyrtle berries, and Poison Ivy berries right now.

New Jersey Audubon Society's 55th Annual Cape May Autumn Weekend (& THE Bird Show) is scheduled for October 26-28, 2001, peak time for migration and all its magic! To receive the brochure stop by either CMBO center or call 609-884-2736 or go to the web site: http://www.njaudubon.org/Centers/CMBO/BirdShow

The Cape May Bird Observatory has daily walks, requiring no pre-registration, and many special field trips and programs that do. To receive a copy of our Program Schedule, stop by our centers, or call 609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's WEB SITE at http://www.njaudubon.org

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 hotline. For more information call 609-861-0700 or send a request for information to CMBO, 600 Route 47 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210. 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.

The Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline is a service of New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory and details sightings from Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties and near shore waters. Updates are made on Thursday evenings. Please report natural history sightings to CMBO at 609-861-0700 or 609-884-2736. For the Cape May Birding Hotline call 609-898-BIRD. 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)

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