CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY AND EVENTS HOTLINE, October 7, 2004
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 7. For bird news call the Cape
May Birding Hotline at (609) 898-2473. NJ Audubon's three hotline can be
read in full on our web site (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on "Sightings"
(top of any page).
Many have noticed very low numbers of MONARCHS this summer & fall. CMBO's
Monarch Monitoring Project reports the lowest 5-week average in the history
of the census (average of 9.21 per hour over the past 5 weeks). Go to NJ
Audubon's website (http://www.njaudubon.org), click on "Research," then click on
"Monarch Monitoring Project" to see the history of CMBO's research project,
including this year. There was a moderate flight on October 4, but few
followed even with continued winds from the north. "Monarch Tagging Demos"
(weather permitting) are offered daily (except Tuesdays & Thursdays) at 2:00
p.m. at the Cape May Point State Park in the East Shelter (which is next to
the Hawkwatch Platform).
RED BATS are migrating now. On October 3 one flew in from the ocean at
dawn. A HUMPBACK WHALE was seen off Cape May last week. Large schools of
BOTTLENOSED DOLPHIN continue to be seen close to shore from Cape May and
Cape May Point.
CMBO's October 9 "Sunset Cruise for Fall Migrants" (2-6 p.m.) still has
room. This trip aboard "The Skimmer" will explore back bay waters from Cape
May to Stone Harbor. Flocks of newly arrived BRANT, hunting PEREGRINES,
1000s of shorebirds including over 100 AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER and 2 MARBLED
GODWIT (seen there 10/4), and many herons and egrets can all be expected. To
register, call 609-861-0700, x-11. CMBO sponsored "Back Bay Birding By Boat"
tours aboard "The Skimmer," are offered every Sunday & Monday from 10 a.m.
to 1 p.m. Call Wildlife Unlimited directly to register for the "Back Bay"
trips (609-884-3100); a portion of the proceeds go to CMBO.
On October 1, 4 BALD EAGLES, 1 PEREGRINE, a flight of over 1,000 BLUE JAYS,
quite a few flickers, and close to 50 RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS were all
enjoyed at East Point in Cumberland County. Join Pat and Clay Sutton on
Sunday, October 10 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) for "Birding Cumberland," to explore
East Point (a mini-Cape May with its own amazing hawk, owl, Monarch, and
dragonfly migration), Heislerville WMA, Thompson's Beach, and the newly
protected "Bluffs" on the Maurice River. Pat Sutton will also lead the
"Cape May NWR Field Trip" to explore the Delaware Bay Division on Sunday,
November 7 (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.). Mark Garland will lead a 2-day "Weekend
Field Trip to Assateague Island," on November 13-14, and a "Cape Henlopen
and Broadkill Marsh" field trip in Delaware on December 4 (9:30 a.m. to 6
p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register for any of these special field
trips while spaces remain!
5,000+ TREE SWALLOWS filled the skies on October 6 during CMBO's "Twilight
Watch" at the Meadows. At 6:48 p.m. promptly they all funneled down into
the marshes in a dramatic show against the red glow of the setting sun!
Several AMERICAN BITTERN, GREEN HERONS, GREAT BLUE HERONS, and night herons
migrated out at last light. Pat Sutton leads this "Twilight Watch for Owls,
Bats, and Herons" every Wednesday, at 5:30 p.m., meeting in The Nature
Conservancy's Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge parking lot on Sunset
Boulevard. An "All About Owls Workshop & Field Trip" with Pat Sutton on
Saturday, October 23 (1:30-6:30 p.m.) at the peak of owl migration, still
has room. Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register!
The mewing of YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS, the nasal call of RED-BREASTED
NUTHATCHES (129 counted 10/6 at Morning Flight), the kissing call of
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS (4,914 counted at the Morning Flight on 10/6), the
"jidit" calls of RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, and the "tse-tse-tse" calls of
GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS filled the airspace this week as these birds filled
up the peninsula. Tail-wagging PALM WARBLER are everywhere! Sparrows
arrived! Lots of SAVANNAH SPARROWS, CLAY-COLORED at the Hawkwatch 10/6,
LINCOLN'S at Higbee 10/5, and WHITE-CROWNED. CMBO's "2-day Cape May Birding
Workshop on Sparrows" with Michael O'Brien and Louise Zemaitis will be
taught October 23-24. Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register! To download a
registration form for any of the Cape May Birding Workshops, go to NJ
Audubon's web site at:
Over 16,000 raptors have been counted since September 1 at CMBO's "Cape May
Autumn Hawkwatch." Flights are diverse now. 42 BALD EAGLES migrated
through this past week (11 on 10/3, 9 on 10/4, & 10 on 10/5). The season's
first GOLDEN EAGLE arrived 10/4. PEREGRINES, MERLINS, and AMERICAN KESTREL
are still steady. Big numbers of SHARP-SHINNED and COOPER'S HAWKS are
moving through now. Special treats at the hawkwatch on October 6 included
an AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN and an albino BROAD-WINGED HAWK. Pete Dunne and
Pat Sutton will teach a "5-day Cape May Birding Workshops on "Raptors"
October 24-28 (Sunday through Thursday, just prior to NJ Audubon's "Cape May
Autumn Weekend"). There is still room on this ultimate Cape May birding
experience. Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register. 2-hour "Hawk ID
Mini-Workshops" are offered by CMBO's seasonal naturalists every Friday,
Saturday, and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. (except October 2 & 3), meeting in the
Cape May Point State Park's Environmental Education Building.
CMBO's Avalon Seawatch has already tallied 23,568 seabirds since September
22, including 18,409 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, 1,966 BLACK SCOTER, 555
GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 130 BROWN PELICAN, 96 COMMON LOON, 18 PARASITIC JAEGER,
and 29 N. GANNET. Stop by the Avalon Seawatch at the north end of Avalon (7
th Street and the beach) any day or join CMBO for it's weekly "Seabird ID
Mini-Workshop," held every Saturday, at 2:00 p.m. at the Avalon Seawatch at
7 th Street and the Ocean.
3 different immature GREAT CORMORANTS continue this week, perching on the
Concrete Ship, the Bunker, or the various jetties in Cape May Point. An
immature male COMMON EIDER, with lots of white markings, continues in the
waters between the Bunker at the State Park and the Concrete Ship at the end
of Sunset Boulevard; Alexander Avenue in Cape May Point is one of its
favorite haunts. The flock of 100s of BLACK SKIMMERS continues to roost
during the day on the beach near 2nd Avenue Jetty in Cape May City and at
dusk to head out into the Delaware Bay to feed. JAEGERS continue to be seen
easily from the Hawkwatch, the raised picnic pavilion at the State Park, any
of the dune crossovers in Cape May Point, or the Concrete Ship as they hunt
close to shore off Cape May Point and They target successfully hunting
terns, dive on them until they drop their fish, and then steal it. Whenever
"the rips" are full of hunting terns be on the lookout for jaegers!
Southern vagrant butterflies abound! OCOLA SKIPPERS have been reported from
Port Republic in Atlantic County, the Maurice River in Cumberland County (3
in 1 garden on 10/1), CMBO's Gardens in Goshen (3 on 10/7), a backyard
garden in Goshen, and gardens all over Cape May and Cape May Point (9 at
Pavilion Circle Gardens on 10/6). FIERY SKIPPERS are still very abundant,
as are SACHEMS! A CLOUDED SKIPPER was seen 10/3 in Cape May Point. Fresh
PAINTED LADIES have appeared this week. Huge lime-yellow CLOUDLESS SULPHURS
continue to catch the eye. MOURNING CLOAKS migrating south were seen this
week. A very late HAYHURST'S SCALLOPWING was in a garden on the Maurice
River on 10/1, along with MOURNING CLOAK, LITTLE YELLOW, and WHITE M
HAIRSTREAK. The season's final "Butterfly Walks at Cape May Point," meeting
at the Pavilion Circle Gardens (10 a.m. to Noon) will be offered Sundays
(October 10 & 17) by Louise Zemaitis and Wednesday (October 13) by Pat
A WHITE-FACED MEADOWHAWK was again seen at Cape May Point at Pavilion Circle
Gardens on October 6 (1st County record 9/29/04). The nearest stable
populations are in MD, PA, northern NJ, and NY. Many migrant COMMON GREEN
DARNERS, BLACK and CAROLINA SADDLEBAGS, WANDERING GLIDERS, and SPOT-WINGED
GLIDERS hunted sheltered air spaces on October 6. On October 1 these huge
migrant dragonflies were being hunted by hungry MERLINS along the Maurice
A hummingbird came briefly to potted salvias on the back deck at CMBO's
Center in Goshen on October 5. RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS are all but gone.
Any hummingbird from now on could be rare, western vagrants. Question any
hummingbird you see now through December. Most will be immatures, so not
easily identified. Be sure to call CMBO if you have a late hummingbird at
your feeders or lingering flowers. Also plan to keep your hummingbird
feeders up and maintained (clean out thoroughly & refill with fresh solution
each week), since these rare, western hummingbirds show up late.
The white-colored shrubs with the fluffy white blossoms are Groundsel-tree.
They line the Parkway and are abundant at the Cape May Point State Park and
The Meadows. Goldenrods, Tall or Giant Sunflowers, wild asters are all in
bloom. Pokeweed, Virginia Creeper, Bayberry, Waxmyrtle, and Red Cedar are
full of fruit for hungry migrants. Leaves are turning and the landscape is
quite dazzling for the shore. Even Poison Ivy is beautiful now as its
leaves are turn beautiful shades of orange, red, and purple! Phragmites or
Giant Reed Grass is in seed and the plumes are quite attractive.
Consider complimenting feeders with a wildlife garden. Lots of shared
knowledge and advice about creating a "Backyard Habitat," including an
article on "How to Create a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden," is featured on
NJ Audubon's web site at:
A terrific selection of hard to find hummingbird, butterfly & general
wildlife plants are on sale at CMBO's center in Goshen (1-4:30 p.m.),
including RED CEDAR, BLACK CHERRY, CORAL HONEYSUCKLE, LITTLE BLUESTEM,
JOE-PYE-WEED, IRONWEED, and others! Selection changes weekly, so stop by
often! The current selection is posted on the "Backyard Habitat" pages on
NJ Audubon's website:
CMBO invites gardeners (no experience necessary) to help maintain CMBO's
wildlife gardens at the Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North). Join Karen
Williams any Friday, 9:30 a.m. to noon, for a weekly "Garden Maintenance
Workshop," where you work in the CMBO gardens while learning from Karen
about gardening for wildlife.
"Hawks & Owls," an exhibit by prominent North American bird artists, is on
display at CMBO's Center in Goshen (600 Rt. 47 North). Stop by and be
Enjoy fall migrants by joining one of CMBO weekly walks with local experts,
including walks already mentioned and these additional walks : (1) every
Saturday, "Fall Migrants at the Rea Farm" meets at 7:30 a.m. in the parking
lot on Bayshore Road (not at the Rea Farm produce stand on Stevens Street),
(2) every Saturday, "The Nature of Cape May Point" with Mark Garland,
meeting at 2 p.m. at CMBO's Northwood Center, (3) every Sunday, "Birding Two
Mile Beach" meets at 7:30 a.m. at the Two Mile Beach Unit of the Cape May
NWR (in the last parking area on the left in the refuge, which lies east of
Ocean Drive just south of Wildwood Crest), (4) every Monday, "Mondays at The
Meadows" meets at 7:30 a.m. at TNC's refuge parking lot on Sunset Boulevard,
(5) every Monday, "Life on the Beach" with marine biologist Karen Williams,
meets at 4:00 p.m. at the Wildlife Viewing Platform in the Cape May Point
State Park for a 2 hour beach walk and seining adventure, (6) every Tuesday,
"Birding for First Timers" meets at 10:30 a.m. in the Cape May Point State
Park under the "North Shelter" (the shelter along the exit road out of the
park, (7) every Tuesday (4:30 p.m. till dusk) the "Sunset Birding at Stone
Harbor Point" walk (with CMBO naturalists who know the area intimately) is a
great way to enjoy this unique area (meet in the Stone Harbor Point parking
lot at the south end of Stone Harbor), (8) every Wednesday, "Birding Cape
May Point" meets at 7:30 a.m. in the "South Shelter" raised pavilion at the
Cape May Point State Park, (9) every Thursday, "Hidden Valley Bird Walk"
meets at 7:30 a.m. in the small clamshell parking lot on the south side of
New England Road, (10) Every Friday, "Higbee Beach Bird Walk" meets at 7:30
a.m. in the parking lot at the end of New England Road, (11) every Friday,
"Sunset Birding at the Meadows" meets at 5:00 p.m. at TNC's refuge parking
lot on Sunset Boulevard.
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. To receive a copy of
our Program Schedule (the Kestrel Express), stop at one of our centers, call
the office during business hours at 609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey
Audubon's web site at 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
around Cape May County, and also include reports from 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!