Cape May Natural History Hotline - 10/3/2002
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 3. 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."

DRAGONFLY MIGRATION -- Keep your eye on dragonflies & enjoy the various species that are migrating through right now: Swamp & Green Darners, Twelve-spotted Skimmers, Wandering and Spot-winged Gliders, Black Saddlebags, and Carolina Saddlebags. Hundreds were seen coming in off the ocean at Strathmere (north of Avalon) at dawn this morning, October 3rd, mostly GREEN DARNERS. Several VARIEGATED MEADOWHAWKS have been seen this fall at "the Meadows," most recently on September 29 & 30. This western dragonfly is a South Jersey vagrant, appearing sporadically in the fall, usually in coastal habitats. CMBO's dragonfly pond in Goshen is another dragonfly hotspot. CMBO's "Dragonfly Workshop & Walk" on Saturday, October 12 (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) still has room; participants will receive the up-to-date, annotated dragonfly & damselfly checklist to Cape May and Cumberland Counties by Ken Soltesz & Bob Barber.

MONARCH MIGRATION -- Monarchs that arrived on September 23rd departed with south winds on September 27. A number of new Monarchs came in with a cold front on September 28th and departed the following day when the winds switched from west to northeast. Monarchs are moving south, heading to Oyamel fir forests on mountaintops in central Mexico. Waves of Monarchs (& many other migrants) are blown to the tip of the Cape May Peninsula (the first southbound peninsula on the East Coast) by coldfronts (winds from the north and northwest). If you truly want to see LOTS of Monarchs, pay close attention to weather. CMBO's Monarch Monitoring Project began September 1st. To date, this fall's Monarch numbers are lower than 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 Monarch Intern Janine McCabe is conducting "Monarch Tagging Demos" Thursday through Monday at 1 p.m. Other learning opportunities with CMBO's experts that focus on butterflies, their natural history, and ID include : (1) "Butterfly Walk at Cape May Point" every Thursday at 1 p.m., (2) "Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk" every Sunday at 10 a.m. CMBO's Center in Goshen has a terrific assortment of hummingbird and butterfly plants FOR SALE.

Other butterfly news this week: a female GULF FRITILLARY was a one-day visitor to a garden in the Villas on October 1, but she laid eggs on Passion Vine & the caterpillars are growing. A BRAZILIAN SKIPPER was seen September 28 at Leamings Run Garden on Route 9 (north of Cape May Court House). There have been a number of reports this fall of large, Orange PHOEBIS species ... either ORANGE-BARRED SULPHURS or large ORANGE SULPHURS. Most recently one was seen on September 28 at Bivalve in Cumberland County. In each case they've been fly-by's and not positively ID'd. Keep your eyes open! Southern species are still very much in evidence: CLOUDLESS SULPHURS (everywhere on the Cape May Peninsula), LONG-TAILED SKIPPER (9/30 in Cape May Point, 9/27 in West Cape May backyard and in CMBO's gardens in Goshen), COMMON CHECKERED SKIPPERs (9/30 in CMBO's gardens in Goshen), FIERY SKIPPER have been on the increase this past week (30 at Cape May Point on 10/3 and some in the CMBO gardens in Goshen too), OCOLA SKIPPER (9/30 at Cape May Point, 9/29 in West Cape May, 9/28 on butterfly bushes at Higbee Beach and in CMBO's gardens in Goshen, 9/27 in West Cape May and in CMBO's gardens in Goshen). On September 30, CMBO's gardens in Goshen glittered with butterflies, including many SACHEMS, AARON'S SKIPPER (1), SALTMARSH SKIPPER (1), CROSSLINE SKIPPER (4).

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. 12,700+ seabirds have already been tallied with some 1,000-3,400 bird days. Double-creasted Cormorants are moving in big numbers. Parasitic Jaegers have been daily with 21 tallied on October 1 chasing gulls and terns for most of the afternoon (best time seems to be late afternoon, around 3-6 pm). Northern Gannet, Great Cormorant, flocks of migrant Brant, Snow Goose, scaup, and White-winged Scoter have just started. The first Common Eiders (14) were seen September 30. Every Saturday a "Seabird ID Mini-Workshop" will be taught at the Avalon Seawatch, 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 2nd 13,500 raptors have been counted, including 1,000-2,000+ bird flights with each coldfront. Totals to date: 1,160 OSPREY (177 on 9/29), 77 BALD EAGLE (9 on 9/29), 330 N. HARRIER, 6,000 SHARP-SHINS (1,112 on 9/28), 850 COOPER'S HAWK (146 on 9/28), 3 RED-SHOULDERS, 280 BROAD-WINGS (so the thousands on-the-move took a different route this fall & missed us), 1 SWAINSON'S HAWK (10/1 & seen again today, 10/3), 3 RED-TAILS, 3,800 AM. KESTREL (575 ON 9/28), 740 MERLIN (64 on 9/28), 180 PEREGRINE (42 on 9/29 & 21 on 10/2). Remember, coldfronts are the key. Time your visit & outings to coincide with coldfronts, winds from the north & northwest. Every Friday and Saturday a "Hawk ID Mini-Workshop" will be taught, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Begin your Cape May weekend by attending CMBO's Friday evening "Open House" from 7-8:30 p.m. at our Center for Research & Education in Goshen (600 Rt. 47 N.). Each open house begins by sharing the past week's migration and predictions for the weekend, and is followed by a program (October 4: Joe Patt, of The Nature Conservancy, will share some of the work they are doing to encourage "Backyard Habitat Basics."

MARBLED GODWIT, HUDSONIAN GODWIT, AM. AVOCET, BRANT, many CASPIAN TERNS, huge flocks of BLACK SKIMMERS and AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS were enjoyed this past week in the waterways behind Stone Harbor Point. A perfect way to get closer to this normally inaccessible watery world is CMBO's "Sunset Cruise for Fall Migrants." The Saturday, October 12 (2-6 p.m.) trip still has room. The boat cruises by active heron rookeries, Clapper Rails, thousands of shorebirds, good numbers and variety of terns and gulls, Osprey & more. "Back Bay Birding By Boat" trips (every Sunday & Monday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) also get you out into this normally inaccessible area.

Recent coldfronts have brought THE BIRDS. CMBO walks have been very birdy; be sure to attend one or all of these bird walks to witness migration unfolding. "Songbird Banding Demos" offered every Friday & Saturday from 10-10:30 a.m., weather permitting. "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" (every Saturday) are all from 7:30-9:30 a.m. "Higbee Beach Bird Walk" (every Sunday) is from 7-9 a.m. Three one-hour introductory programs this fall include: "The Nature of Cape May" (every Sunday) from 2-3 p.m.; "Enjoying Migration at Cape May" (every Wednesday) from 10:30-11:30 a.m; and "Birding for First Timers" (Every Thursday) from 1-2 p.m. Join Mark Garland for one or both of the specially arranged outings to a variety of "Migration Hotspots" (October 5, October 19), from 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

It's sparrow time. Get a jump start by signing up for CMBO's "Sparrows Mini-Workshop" with Michael O'Brien on Saturday, October 12 (7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.).

GROUNDSEL-TREE is blooming. The male shrubs have little yellow button-like flowers & the female shrubs have fluffy white tassel-like flowers. Female RED CEDAR trees are blue with berries. POISON IVY berries are formed & the leaves are turning brilliant colors. Learn to recognize beneficial native trees & shrubs with Pat Sutton on CMBO's "Wildlife Food Plants: ID Workshop," an outdoor workshop on Friday, October 11 (1-4 p.m.).

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). The 2-Day Bullet Workshop on Raptors (Oct. 12-13) is full, but taking names on a waiting list. 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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