Cape May Natural History Hotline - 10/20/2005

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 Thursday, October 20. New Jersey 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 CMBO's 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 CMBO's many preregistration programs go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

When the week of rain finally ended and good migration weather followed (winds from the north and northwest) the airspace over Cape May filled with migrants, for 5 straight days (Saturday, October 15, through Wednesday, October 19)!

Another massive flight of MONARCHS came through this week on October 17 and 18. 3,000 were counted at roost sites / sheltered spots in Cape May Point in the dunes and in backyards. Many of them migrated out of the area on the 19th, but some can still be found in gardens with blooming Butterfly Bushes and in the dunes where SEASIDE GOLDENROD is still blooming. 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, you'll 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)

The bird flight on the 16th included 40,000 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, 2000 N. FLICKERS, 25,000 TREE SWALLOWS, 1,500 PALM WARBLERS, 200 BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLERS, 200 N. PARULA, and 140 WOOD DUCKS.

The bird flight on the 17th included 30,000 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, 2,000 PALM WARBLERS, 400 BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLERS, 14+ species of warblers, and many COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, ORIOLES, TANAGERS, WINTER and HOUSE WRENS. The flight of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS on October 18 was even more awesome, with clouds of them from horizon to horizon - so many that cars couldn't help but hit them as they flitted across roads - an estimated 200,000+ to perhaps a million YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS.

Zillions of SPARROWS and E. PHOEBES arrived on October 19. Observers reported flushing 50 sparrows with each step along hedgerows at Hidden Valley, the CMBO Center in Goshen, and elsewhere. Amidst 100s of SONG and SWAMP SPARROWS there were lesser numbers of WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS, SAVANNAH SPARROWS, CHIPPING SPARROWS, and 10-12 WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS. 3-5 LINCOLN SPARROWS were discovered at various birding spots.

Some amazing highlights from the CMBO Morning Flight Count at Higbee Beach follow: 955 NORTHERN FLICKER on October 18, 84 YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER on October 18, 20 species of warblers between October 16 and 19, 74,337 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS on October 18, 778 CHIPPING SPARROWS on October 19, 1 CLAY-COLORED SPARROW on October 18, 1 LARK SPARROW on October 16, 1 FOX SPARROW on October 19; good numbers of E. PHOEBE, both KINGLETS, BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLERS; small numbers of RUSTY BLACKBIRDS and PURPLE FINCHES, a SANDHILL CRANE on October 18, WESTERN KINGBIRD on October 17.

The fall's first migrant owls were seen on October 17. A SHORT-EARED OWL was flushed from the dunes by a N. HARRIER during Pete Dunne's Monday morning walk through The Meadows. And another was seen near the Magnesite Plant. BARRED OWLS are resident. One was seen at dusk in Cape May Point on October 15 on Lake Drive, and a pair was heard near the Rea Farm on October 19. GREAT HORNED OWLS, also resident, are getting vocal at dusk and dawn as they set up territories, they being our earliest nesting bird. CMBO's final "Twilight Watch for Migrating Owls, Bats, and Herons" will be offered every Wednesday evening, October 26, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. 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.), and December 3 (Noon to 5 p.m.). All still have room. To register or learn more information call 609-861-0700, x-11.

Saturday evening October 15, a massive CANADA GOOSE flight began and lasted all night long and into the next day. 200 SNOW GEESE flew over Goshen on October 15. A GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was a flyby at the Avalon Seawatch on October 15.

Over 24,400 raptors have been counted at the Cape May Hawkwatch since September 1. Since the rain stopped 3,000-1,000 bird days have been tallied. October 15, 3,073 raptors passed including: 155 OSPREY, 8 BALD EAGLES, 29 N. HARRIER, 865 SHARPSHINS, 194 COOPER'S HAWKS, 5 BROADWINGS, 1,418 AM. KESTREL, 342 MERLIN, and 41 PEREGRINE. Small kettles of BROADWINGS passed October 17-19, with totals of 114 on the 17th, 76 on the 18th, and 107 on the 19th. The season's first ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK passed on October 18. 186 BALD EAGLES, 2,964 AMERICAN KESTREL, 915 MERLIN, and 969 PEREGRINES have been tallied so far at Cape May Point this fall. Spend some time on the hawkwatch learning ID with CMBO's seasonal naturalists and fellow hawkwatchers. Also be sure to attend the final "Hawk ID Mini-Workshops," offered Friday (Oct. 21), Saturday (Oct. 22), and Sunday (Oct. 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 "2-Day Raptor Workshop(focused on Buteos, Eagles, and Great Diversity)" (Wednesday and Thursday, October 26-27) taught by Pete Dunne and Pat Sutton.

On October 15, during a CMBO Cruise up the Great Egg Harbor River at the northern edge of Cape May County, the southbound hawk flight was observed turning west and heading UP the Great Egg Harbor River rather than crossing the wide Great Egg Harbor Bay. On October 17, a survey of the Maurice River in Cumberland County witnessed a major hawk flight at East Point including 14 OSPREY, 17 BALD EAGLES (all immatures, not the local adults), 22 N. HARRIER, 656 SHARPSHINS, 84 COOPER'S HAWKS, 12 REDTAILS, 43 AM. KESTREL, 24 MERLIN, and a PEREGRINE.

The CMBO Avalon Seawatch began September 22. Due to construction at 7th Street, this year's watch and Seabird ID Mini-Workshops are being conducted at 8th Street. "Seabird ID Mini-Workshops" are offered Saturdays through November 12 (except October 29), 2 to 4 p.m., at 7th Street.

Many 100s of BLACK SKIMMERS are roosting on Cape May City's 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 May's 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.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD sightings are scarce now. One was in a yard in the Villas on October 16. Another was briefly in a yard in Goshen on October 19. Even though Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have thinned out, don't 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.

Butterflies still being found in gardens this week include: ORANGE SULPHURS, CLOUDED SULPHURS, CABBAGE WHITE, CLOUDLESS SULPHURS, E. TAILED BLUE, VARIEGATED FRITILLARY, AMERICAN LADY, PAINTED LADY, PEARL CRESCENT, COMMON BUCKEYE, E. COMMA, RED ADMIRAL, MORNING CLOAK, MONARCHS, and SACHEMS. On the dragonfly front COMMON GREEN DARNERS, CAROLINA SADDLEBAGS, and BLACK SADDLEBAGS are still being seen. MONARCH and BLACK SWALLOWTAIL caterpillars are still being found. The swallowtails will winter as chrysalises somewhere in the garden. The Monarch caterpillars need to go through complete metamorphosis and emerge as adults to fly to Mexico, where they winter. So, if we do not get any severe freezes, we could still be seeing adult Monarchs in the middle of November from tiny caterpillars being found now.

COYOTES were heard calling near the Rea Farm on October 19.

To experience the rich and beautiful marshes, migrant shorebirds, and hunting falcons 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.

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 Audubon's website: 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.

Some very special CMBO field trips still have room: "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 Audubon's "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 Cape May Workshops are coming up. Pete Dunne and Pat Sutton will teach a raptor workshop (mentioned earlier) on October 26-27; Michael O'Brien and Louise Zemaitis will teach a "Waterfowl Workshop" on November 25 & 26. CMBO's 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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