Cape May Natural History Hotline - 10/27/2005

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 27, and will next be updated on November 10. 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 CMBOs sighting sheets are lengthy for each and every day as observers share all their wonderful sightings. Many 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 CMBOs many preregistration programs go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

Masses of sparrows arrived on October 21 and remained through CMBOs 2-Day Sparrow Workshop (October 22 & 23)! Lawns and roadshoulders everywhere in Cape May County were covered in sparrows. Most were SONG, SWAMP, and WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS, but there were also 3,500 CHIPPING SPARROWS, 2000 JUNCOS, with lesser but good numbers of SAVANNAH SPARROWS AND FIELD SPARROWS, 250 WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, 15 LINCOLNS SPARROWS, 5 CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS, and 9 VESPER SPARROWS. 23 WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS were counted on October 23 at the hawkwatch as well as a LINCOLNS SPARROW, while 2 VESPER SPARROWS were at the Rea Farm. 15+ WINTER WRENS were seen on the Cape May Point State Park trails. The same conditions that brought sparrows also delivered the first good movement of AMERICAN WOODCOCK. 12 were seen at Higbee Beach on October 23.

At dusk on October 23 observers witnessed 100s of departing passerines. Owls have begun to migrate. The best night for owl migration are clear nights with gentle north and northwest winds. A migrating BARN OWL was heard (giving its screechy schhhhhhhhhhhp) around 9 p.m. on October 20. A LONG-EARED OWL migrated over The Meadows on October 23. Katy Duffy & Patrick Matheny have arrived and begun this falls Cape May Owl Banding Project. October 26 was their first night and when the winds dropped in the middle of the night they caught 2 SAW-WHET OWLS. If you hear the tooting of a Saw-whet Owl through the night, its their loop tape. Fall coldfronts continue to bring migrating SAW-WHET, LONG-EARED, SHORT-EARED, and BARN OWLS. CMBO has 2 All About Owls: Workshop & Field Trip scheduled on Saturdays: November 12 (Noon to 5 p.m.) and December 3 (Noon to 5 p.m.). Both still have room. The 3-Day Owl and Eagle Workshop (January 21-23, 2006) with Pat & Clay Sutton and Ward Dasey still has room and is held at the peak time of year to see owls and eagles (when many winter here). For full details on this and CMBOs other Cape May Birding Workshops, go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks05.html To register or learn more information call 609-861-0700, x-11.

At twilight in The Meadows on October 23 a migrating AMERICAN BITTERN was seen and one of the local GREAT HORNED OWLS. The October 26 Twilight Watch in The Meadows enjoyed a nice show of migrating BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS, GREAT BLUE HERONS, and 1 AMERICAN BITTERN between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.

The evening of October 26 was good for migration and delivered many nocturnal migrants by dawn on the 27th : RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS (and fewer numbers of GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS), AMERICAN ROBINS, FLICKERS, E. PHOEBES, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, BLUE-HEADED VIREOS, and sparrows were everywhere on Cape Island on the 27th. E. BLUEBIRDS were in the parking lot at the Rea Farm on October 26.

Mixed in with the many TREE SWALLOWS over the Hawkwatch on October 26 were 2 N. ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS and a CAVE SWALLOW. 3 CAVE SWALLOWS were seen over Cape May City between 5-6 p.m. on October 26. And a CAVE SWALLOW was seen on the Maurice River on October 26.

When the rains associated with Hurricane Wilma ended (October 25), and strong northwest winds began on October 26, the floodgates opened and migrants poured in! The raptor flight on October 26 was low and spectacular, involving 1,400 raptors: 24 OSPREY, 4 BALD EAGLES, 26 N. HARRIER, 879 SHARPSHINS, 270 COOPERS HAWKS, 2 RED-SHOULDERS, 11 BROADWINGS, 1 SWAINSONS HAWK (an immature light morph, 2nd year bird), 30 REDTAILS, 84 AM. KESTREL, 28 MERLIN, and 4 PEREGRINE. Including the October 26 flight, 29,275 raptors have been tallied so far at Cape May this fall. Further up the Delaware Bay in Cumberland County a GOLDEN EAGLE was seen along the Maurice River on October 26. OSPREY put on an incredible show on October 26 and 27 in front of the Hawkwatch as they hunted Bunker Pond. There were often 4-6 birds hunting at once, each one successfully catching a fish, and at one time there were 13 hunting the pond. On October 26, this activity drew in hungry BALD EAGLES, which attempted to steal their fish, time after time. 45 RUDDY DUCKS have settled into Bunker Pond and CASPIAN TERNS (adults and whining young) also hunted there on October 26.

YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS have been regulars this week in the trees at Pavilion Circle in the heart of Cape May Point and around the Northwood Center, including 1 tree to the left of the front door (right outside the window with the sighting sheets clipboard).

100 BLACK SKIMMERS can still be found roosting on Cape Mays beachfront. On October 26 they were in the vicinity of Decatur Street and Beach Avenue, which is south of the Convention Center. 20-30 ROYAL TERNS were roosting on the beach near 2nd Avenue on October 24 & 25.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD sightings are scarce now; one was seen in Cape May City on October 20-21. Even though Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have thinned out, dont 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.

A pair of COMMON GREEN DARNERS in tandem (mating) were at Lighthouse Pond in the Cape May Point State Park on October 27. A few MONARCHS were seen on October 26 and 27 from the Hawkwatch and migrating through Cape May Point. A few Monarch caterpillars can still be found on Milkweed in Cape May Point, so well be seeing Monarchs into mid- November (if we dont get a freeze that will kill them). 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, youll 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)

SASSAFRAS leaves are turning beautiful colors now, as are the leaves of POISON IVY. Poison Ivy vines are full fruit and attracting in hungry migrants. SOUR GUM trees are turning shades of purple and orange. PERSIMMON fruits are falling to the ground, but dont be lured into eating one until the first frost.

The CMBO Avalon Seawatch began September 22. Due to construction at 7th Street, this years watch and Seabird ID Mini-Workshops are being conducted at 8th Street. Seabird ID Mini-Workshops are offered on the following Saturdays: November 5 and 12, 2 to 4 p.m., at 7th Street.

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 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 Audubons website: http: 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 Audubons 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. Michael OBrien and Louise Zemaitis will teach a Waterfowl Workshop on November 25 & 26. CMBOs 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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