Cape May Natural History Hotline - 10/25/2001

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 Thursday, October 25th. The Cape May Birding Hotline has moved to 609-898-BIRD (sorry for any inconvenience).

It is the eve of New Jersey Audubon's 55th Annual Cape May Autumn Weekend / THE Bird Show -- October 26, 27, & 28. 45 vendors from all over the country will be showing off their latest birding gear, optics, clothing, books, artwork, gift items, and more at the Cape May Convention Center on the beach at Stockton Avenue. David Sibley will be in town and a special book signing is set for Saturday, October 27th, from 3-4:30 p.m. at the Cape May Convention Center. Come enjoy the weekend. Looks like we timed it perfectly, a coldfront is promised for the weekend. To sign up for the day programs, stop by our weekend registration desk at the Grand Hotel on Friday (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Saturday (8 a.m. to Noon), Sunday (8 to 10 a.m.). http://www.njaudubon.org/Centers/CMBO/BirdShow

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 nearing the end of its second month. As of October 24th over 21,600 raptors have been recorded. This last week was unseasonably warm with summertime temperatures -- not very good migration weather. This coming weekend's predicted coldfront will certainly trigger the next big wave of raptors -- plus we are getting into peak buteo season and the time we all await when Golden Eagles come through. Despite the warm temperatures this past week 13 species of raptors were enjoyed. To view the CMBO Hawkwatch daily totals, go to: http://www.capemaytimes.com/birds/hawkwatch.htm#totals

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) 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 205,227 seabirds. This past week has seen some incredible flights, with 17,600 on October 24th and 15,700 on the 23rd! Both COMMON LOONS and RED-THROATED LOONS are steady now, along with N. GANNETS. The season's first HORNED GREBES, LONG-TAILED DUCKS, COMMON GOLDENEYE, BUFFLEHEAD, RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, and BONAPARTE'S GULLS showed up this week. Huge numbers of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT are passing by the seawatch daily. Mixed in with these flocks are some GREAT CORMORANT, including 4 on October 20, 3 on the 21st, and 1 on the 23rd. Huge flights of SURF SCOTER are passing by now (10,800 on Oct. 23 and 12,000 on Oct. 24), mixed with hundreds of BLACK SCOTERS and a smattering of WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS. PARASITIC JAEGERS continue to dazzle visitors to the Avalon Seawatch, with 11 seen on both Oct. 20 and 21st, 3 on the 22nd, and 2 on the 23rd & 24th. A LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was seen at the Seawatch on October 22.

CMBO's Monarch Monitoring Project began September 1st. Chris Kisiel is this fall's Monarch Migration Technician. Over 6,500 Monarchs have been tagged at Cape May Point by this project in the past two months. 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 continued to migrate through this past week. The Avalon Seawatch counted 58 on October 20th and observers all over Cape May County were noticing migrants passing steadily overhead. Monarchs will continue to migrate through with each cold front, though by early November each sighting will be a treat.

Monarch caterpillars and chrysalises are still being found in gardens with tender milkweed plants.

A BRAZILIAN SKIPPER was at Hidden Valley on October 23rd! This southern stray is one of only several County records! Butterfly gardens have grown quiet, but Seaside Goldenrod is still in bloom and drawing in fair numbers of AMERICAN LADIES, PAINTED LADIES, RED ADMIRALS, COMMON BUCKEYES, SULPHURS, CABBAGE WHITES, SACHEMS and of course MONARCHS. Other goodies enjoyed this week include a VICEROY, VARIEGATED FRITILLARY, E. TAILED BLUE, AMERICAN COPPER, GRAY HAIRSTREAK, PEARL CRESCENT, HACKBERRY EMPEROR, TAWNY EMPEROR, AMERICAN SNOUT, and MOURNING CLOAKS (that were on the move at Cape May Point and heading west up the Delaware Bayshore at East Point).

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.

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 DRAGONFLY flight occurred on October 22, including mostly BLACK SADDLEBAGS and COMMON GREEN DARNERS.

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; since early October 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.

HIGH DRAMA was witnessed this week on October 23rd at Bivalve in Cumberland County. Thousands of shorebirds were viewed from the boardwalk, included: 1,000's of DUNLIN, 500+ BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, 3 HUDSONIAN GODWIT, 2 MARBLED GODWIT, 2 AMERICAN AVOCET, 1 RED KNOT. A PEREGRINE FALCON came in hunting and singled out one of the Hudsonian Godwits. It tail chased the bird for five minutes, when a second Peregrine joined it and the duo was too much for the godwit. One of the Peregrines caught and killed the godwit. The second Peregrine came in and chased off the first. Then a sub-adult Bald Eagle chased both of the Peregrines off and made off with the godwit. One of the Peregrines chased the Bald Eagle for a good five minutes before giving up. And so it goes . . . but how many times is that unfolding of events in the natural world witnessed?

Visitors to The Nature Conservancy's Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge (also known as "The Meadows") continue to enjoy lengthy looks at AMERICAN BITTERN along the East Path, the path closest to Cape May City. Be on the lookout for SORA RAILS too at this location.

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!

The glorious fall colors we've enjoyed for the last month are being swept away by strong winds this weekend. The fluffy white flowers on female Groundsel-tree bushes continue to accent the landscape. Female Red Cedar trees are blue with berries now, just in time for fall migrants. 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.

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:

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/Calendar/calcmbo.html

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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