CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY AND EVENTS HOTLINE, October 6, 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:
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.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
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
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
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:
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
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) firstname.lastname@example.org