Cape May Natural History Hotline - 10/7/2004

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: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks04.html

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 Sutton.

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 River.

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: http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat/Index.html

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: http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat/Index.html

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 dazzled.

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!

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