CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY & EVENTS HOTLINE A/O October 4, 2001
The Cape May Birding Hotline has moved to 609-898-BIRD (sorry for any
inconvenience). This number (609-861-0466) is now the home of the Cape
May Natural History & Events Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon
Society's Cape May Bird Observatory.
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. If you're
brand new to hawk watching or to Cape May's hawkwatch, be sure to take
advantage of CMBO's Hawk ID Mini-workshops (each Friday and Saturday,
10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) and taught by Jennifer or Derek. Jennifer and
Derek will be 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 into its second
month. As of October 3rd over 12,200 raptors have been recorded. The
September 28-29 coldfront produced the season's first 1,000-bird-days.
September 28's 1,483 birds included 15 BALD EAGLES, 44 N. HARRIER, 457
SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS, 75 COOPER'S HAWKS, 421 BROAD-WINGED HAWKS, 24
RED-TAILS, 337 AM. KESTREL, 32 MERLIN, 7 PEREGRINES. 26 PEREGRINES
passed on September 30. Good flights on Oct. 2 (799 birds) and Oct. 3
(668 birds) followed. October 2nd's flight included 70 OSPREY, 11 BALD
EAGLES, 155 AM. KESTREL, 44 MERLIN. To view the CMBO Hawkwatch daily
totals, go to:
CMBO's Avalon Seawatch crew this fall is composed of Karl Bardon, the
counter (back for a 2nd season), Brennan Mulrooney, the back-up
counter, Cameron Cox, the Interpretive Naturalist, and CMBO Associate
Naturalists Gail Dwyer and BJ Pinnock, who will be conducting Seabird ID
Mini-workshops, from 10 a.m. to Noon, each Saturday and Sunday, October
6-21, at the Avalon Seawatch, 7th Street and the beach in Avalon. 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
The AVALON SEAWATCH began on September 22nd. After a few quiet days,
seabirds began moving in earnest, with 1,000's of DOUBLE-CRESTED
CORMORANT, 100's of BLACK SCOTERS & SURF SCOTERS, and the first waves of
COMMON LOON. Highlights include 2 COMMON EIDERS on the 29th, a LARK
SPARROW on the 26th, MARBLED GODWITS on the 26th & 28th, and a BLACK
TERN on the 22nd & 24th.
CMBO's Monarch Monitoring Project began September 1st. Chris Kisiel is
this fall's Monarch Migration Technician. As of October 4th over 5,000
Monarchs have been tagged at Cape May Point by this project. 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
A major coldfront at the end of September with winds from the north and
northwest triggered one of the most dramatic MONARCH concentrations in
several years. By 2 p.m. on September 28 bushes in the dunes at Cape
May Point were vibrating with roosting Monarchs that had settled in and
stopped migrating because of the strong winds. That evening and dawn
the following day (September 29) were times to remember. Pooled
sightings documented at least 70,000 Monarchs roosting at 3 different
locations: the undeveloped dune forest at Stone Harbor Point, the dunes
and backyards in Cape May Point, and the stands of Red Cedars at East
Point (in Cumberland County). There were no doubt many more Monarchs in
South Jersey than those 70,000, since many other coastal stands of
native vegetation were not checked for roosting Monarchs. The coldfront
was followed by Indian Summer temperatures and winds from the wrong
direction, winds that do not aide migration. The result has been
lingering Monarchs in gardens the last three days (Oct. 2-4). One
garden in the Villas counted 200, another garden in Mauricetown reports
50. The next coldfront they'll move on and others from the north will
arrive and move through. Other migrant butterflies mixed in with
Monarchs and also heading south include: RED ADMIRALS, PAINTED LADIES,
and AMERICAN LADIES.
Good places to view and enjoy migrating & nectaring Monarchs (BUT NOT
TO COLLECT or MANHANDLE any butterflies, 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 where you can learn
more about Monarchs: (1) "Monarch Tagging Demos," Thursdays through
Mondays from 1:00 to 1:30 p.m., until October 14, (2) Sunday and
Wednesday "Butterfly Walks" from 10 a.m. to Noon, until October 17.
For full details about these various programs (or one of the countless
other 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:
While migrant Monarchs from the north are coming through in force, some
of our 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. It will be curious to see how late our local Monarchs will lay
eggs this fall. The warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware
Bay buffer the tip of the Cape May Peninsula and we may see Monarchs
laying eggs into early November. To witness this incredible life cycle,
be sure to stop by CMBO's Northwood Center, where a terrarium is set up
with live caterpillars, chrysalises, and emerging Monarchs.
Southern vagrant butterflies this week, include good numbers of SACHEMS
in gardens all over Cape May County, 1 VARIEGATED FRITILLARY on October
3 at the CMBO gardens in Goshen, 3 CLOUDLESS SULPHURS on October 4 at
Higbee Beach. A WHITE M HAIRSTREAK was in a garden in the Villas on
October 4. There is an unusual incursion of 2 southern butterflies
occurring right now in coastal areas: S. DOGFACE & CASSIUS BLUES.
They've been reported as far north as coastal Virginia. Keep your eyes
open! A BANDED SPHINX moth was discovered in Goshen, NJ, at the CMBO
Center for Research & Education on September 28. This tropical species
can sometimes be common from Florida to Arkansas and Texas, and may
stray as far north as Nova Scotia and Michigan.
New Jersey Audubon's web site has the Cape May County Butterfly
Checklist available as a download:
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!
A River Otter was sighted crossing Lighthouse Avenue on September 25.
River Otter live in the freshwater areas in Cape May County but are so
secretive that they're rarely seen, though their scat or distinctive
droppings (often full of fish scales) are often found if you know to
look for them.
Tall or Giant Sunflower and Seaside Goldenrod are both in bloom right
now and drawing in hungry Monarchs and other butterflies.
Wildlife gardens in Cape May County continued to report one or two
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds through the last few days of September,
though most have migrated south. After mid-October, question any
hummingbird you see, even if it looks like a female or immature
Ruby-throated Hummingbird, since that is when the western rarities
The swallow show is still happening. Thousands of TREE SWALLOWS are
migrating through now. An amazing spectacle to look for at dusk is when
these thousands of swallows spiral down in one massive funnel into their
communal evening roost. The Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge on Sunset
Boulevard is one good observation spot to watch for this.
Male Great Horned Owls are already setting up territories by hooting at
dawn and dusk. 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.
Stands of Pokeweed and Virginia Creeper are ripe with deep purple
berries now and drawing in good numbers of migrant songbirds, especially
Catbirds and Thrushes. Other good wild foods migrant birds are counting
on right now include Bayberries, Waxmyrtle berries, and Poison Ivy
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:
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
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 609-884-2736 or 609-861-0700. For the Cape May Birding Hotline
call 609-898-BIRD . Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL