Cape May Natural History Hotline - 10/7/2005

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 6. NJ 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 CMBO's sighting sheets are lengthy for each and every day as observers share all their wonderful sightings. Fifteen 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 CMBO's many preregistration programs go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

Many PEREGRINES migrate offshore feasting on migrant songbirds that have been blown out over the ocean by coldfronts (north and northwest winds). When winds are from the east and northeast Peregrines are forced back to land to find food, and that is exactly what happened this week on October 4th, 5th, and 6th. The Cape May Hawkwatch tallied 223 Peregrines on October 4 and 241 on October 5. The highest single day flight of Peregrines at Cape May ever was in 2002 on October 5 with 298 Peregrines.

Each coldfront and it's associated north and northwest winds is bringing big waves of MONARCHS this fall. The last big push was September 30 and October 1. Play the weather & plan to be here to see the next push, maybe on Sunday, October 9. Hundreds are stuck here now with the drizzly, overcast weather. Many can be found nectaring in the dunes on SEASIDE GOLDENROD, which is in full bloom and beautiful. Several dozen were roosting in the Japanese Black Pines at the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse Gardens the evening of October 6. We are still finding lots of Monarch caterpillars and a few eggs on milkweed in Cape May Point gardens, so local Monarchs are still mating, laying eggs, and dying - trying to get off one more generation. If you have been raising some of your garden's Monarch caterpillars indoors this summer and early fall and some have shriveled up and died, you may 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)

CMBO's "Monarch Tagging Demos" are offered through October 19 every day of the week except Tuesdays and Thursdays (weather permitting) at 2 p.m. at the Cape May Point State Park in the picnic shelter next to the Hawk Watch / Wildlife Viewing Platform. 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."

The Meadows on Sunset Boulevard were closed until the evening of September 30 (while TNC / Army Corps were spraying Phragmites). Since the property opened it has been a hotbed of activity with shorebirds, herons and egrets, skimmers, and waterfowl. Some counts from the property this week include: 175 SNOWY EGRETS, 30 GREAT EGRETS, 3 GLOSSY IBIS, 3 COMMON MOORHEN, 28 PECTORAL SANDPIPER, 2 WILSON'S SNIPE, 9 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, 17 STILT SANDPIPER, 20 of each of the YELLOWLEGS (great opportunities to compare!), 20 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, a BLUE-WINGED TEAL, SORA RAIL, and skimming BLACK SKIMMERS. The evening of October 5, during CMBO's "Twilight Watch for Migrating Owls, Bats, and Herons," MERLINS bulleted by as they madly dashed about hunting. The "Twilight Walk" is offered every Wednesday evening from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at "The Meadows" and is an excellent opportunity to savor the beginning of nocturnal migration! Coldfronts are the key and nights with clear skies and gentle winds are best. See you there!

CMBO's "Sunset Cruise for Fall Migrants" aboard The Skimmer on October 1 savored 28 MARBLED GODWIT and an AVOCET in Hereford Inlet. The godwits and Avocet were seen again by boat on October 2 and 3 in Hereford Inlet. CMBO's October 8 "Sunset Cruise for Fall Migrants" has been cancelled due to too few registrants. "Back Bay Boat Cruises" are offered every Sunday and Monday (10 a.m. till 1 p.m.) and sponsored by CMBO. To register for the cruises call "The Skimmer" at 609-884-3100.

Nummy's Island and Stone Harbor Point are a must see! 100s of BLACK SKIMMERS that nested there and their fledged young are still roosting on Stone Harbor Point. 200 AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER, RED KNOT, and a GOLDEN PLOVER were also there on October 1. On October 2, a BROWN PELICAN flew south by Stone Harbor Point while at least 15 CASPIAN TERNS plunged into the manmade pond on Stone Harbor Point that is now tidal and flooded with fish. On October 4, 4 PIPING PLOVER and a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL were seen on the "Stone Harbor Point Walk," offered every Tuesday evening in October at 4:30 p.m. until sunset (meets in the parking lot at the south end of Stone Harbor).

A few RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS were still migrating through on October 5 and pausing to feed in backyard habitats and at feeders. The RUFOUS / ALLENS HUMMINGBIRD that came to the CMBO Gardens in Goshen on September 29 was seen well and repeatedly on September 30 until 6:30 p.m., but was last seen October 1 at 8:30 a.m.

GREAT HORNED OWLS are our earliest nesting birds. Pairs are already declaring their territories at dusk, dueting to one another. Fall coldfronts will bring migrating SAW-WHET, LONG-EARED, SHORT-EARED, and BARN OWLS. CMBO has 3 "All About Owls: Workshop & Field Trip" scheduled on Saturdays: October 22 (1:30 to 6:30 p.m.), November 12 (Noon to 5 p.m.), December 3 (Noon to 5 p.m.). All still have room. To register or learn more information call 609-861-0700, x-11.

Good numbers of BLUE-HEADED VIREOS, BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLERS, N PARULAS, MAGNOLIA WARBLERS, and PALM WARBLERS are coming through now. YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS are being seen and their numbers will continue to grow as other migrant warblers become scarce. On October 3, TENNESSEE, PINE, NASHVILLE, BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, and PHILADELPHIA VIREO were also counted during the Morning Flight at Higbee Beach. This past weekend brought the first KINGLETS and BROWN CREEPERS.

Butterfly gardens in Cape May are still in full bloom. Gardens to the north are beginning to wane. New England Aster and Seaside Goldenrod are stealing the show. A TIGER SWALLOWTAIL was at CMBO's Gardens in Goshen on October 1. Gardens at Cape May Point continue to host lots of BLACK SWALLOWTAIL caterpillars on Fennel and Monarch caterpillars on Milkweed. But gardens even 15 miles north of Cape May are seeing a decided drop in butterfly eggs and caterpillars. Big numbers of CLOUDLESS SULPHURS are still moving through. GRAY HAIRSTREAKS and E. TAILED BLUES are still flying. A WHITE M HAIRSTREAK was at Higbee Beach on October 1. PAINTED LADIES are thick, along with far fewer AMERICAN LADIES. VARIEGATED FRITILLARIES were seen this week in CMBO's Gardens in Goshen, at Higbee Beach, and near the old Magnesite Plant. A RED-SPOTTED PURPLE was seen October 5 in Rio Grande. Lots of PEARL CRESCENTS are still flying. FIERY SKIPPERS continue at Cape May Point and in Goshen. SACHEMS are still the most common skipper and the most common butterfly being seen now. There is such variation that many observers are easily confused. LONG-TAILED SKIPPERS were seen this week at Cape May Point on October 2 and in CMBO's Gardens in Goshen on October 4. OCOLA SKIPPERS are here in force this fall, several at CMBO's Gardens in Goshen and throughout Cape May Point in all the gardens. PREYING MANTISES are thick and found in all the gardens full of butterflies.

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 Audubon's website: http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat

Three great opportunities to learn butterflies (through October 16) include: "Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk" with Louise Zemaitis every Sunday at 10 a.m., "Butterfly Walk at Cape May Point" with Pat Sutton every Wednesday at 10 a.m. (both the Sunday and Wednesday walk meet at Pavilion Circle Gardens in Cape May Point), and "Butterfly Walk in the Goshen Gardens" with Pat Sutton every Thursday at 10 a.m. (meeting at the CMBO Center in Goshen, 600 Rt. 47 North). At the same location, learn about wildlife gardening while helping Pat Sutton maintain the CMBO Gardens in Goshen during a "Garden Maintenance Workshop" every Friday morning (except September 9 & 16), from 9 a.m. till Noon.

GROUNDSEL-TREE is in bloom and catching the eye. The female shrub has fluffy white flowers. The male shrub's small, button-yellow flowers are already spent and not catching the eye. GIANT FOXTAIL (Setaria magna) was discovered this week growing in good numbers on the auto tour at Forsythe NWR, especially along the North Dike by East Pool. More than a hundred plants, many more than 10 feet tall (taller than Phragmites), have appeared there this fall -- for the first time in the memory of several veteran botanists.

Over 13,260 raptors have been counted at the Cape May Hawkwatch since September 1. The October 5th flight included 1,001 raptors: 65 OSPREY, 6 BALD EAGLES (bringing the season total up to 128), 7 N. HARRIER, 351 SHARPSHINS, 175 COOPER'S HAWKS, 3 BROADWINGS, 5 REDTAILS, 78 AMERICAN KESTREL, 58 MERLIN, and the 241 PEREGRINES. This next coldfront (when the skies clear on Sunday) should flood the area with many more raptors. Spend some time on the hawkwatch learning ID with CMBO's seasonal naturalists and fellow hawkwatchers. Also be sure to attend one or several of the "Hawk ID Mini-Workshops," offered each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through October 23 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Cape May Point State Park, meeting in the classroom. Or dive in with both feet and attend the CMBO Raptor Workshop taught by Pete Dunne and Pat Sutton (mentioned above).

The CMBO Avalon Seawatch began September 22. Due to construction at 7th Street, this year's watch and Seabird ID Mini-Workshops are being conducted at 8th Street. The first "Seabird ID Mini-Workshop" will be held Saturday, October 8, 2 to 4 p.m., at 7th Street, and every Saturday through November 12 (except October 29).

Some very special CMBO field trips still have room: "Giants Among Us: Cape May County's Biggest Trees" on October 8 (10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.), "Birding Cumberland (with Pat and possibly Clay Sutton)" on October 9 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.), "Great Egg Harbor River Cruise (with Pat and possibly Clay Sutton & Karen Johnson)" on October 15 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), "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 Audubon's "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 workshops are coming up. Pete Dunne and Pat Sutton will teach a raptor workshop Raptors II: Buteos, Eagles, and Great Diversity" on October 26-27. "Waterfowl" with Michael O'Brien & Louise Zemaitis on November 25 & 26. CMBO's 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!

Pat & Clay Sutton 129 Bucks Avenue Cape May Court House, NJ 08210 USA 609-465-3397 (phone) / 609-465-2273 (fax) patclaysutton@comcast.net

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