Cape May Natural History Hotline - 10/9/2002
You have reached the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This update was made on Wednesday, October 9. For bird news call the Cape May Birding Hotline at 609-898-2473. NJ Audubon's three hotlines can be read in full on our web site (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on "Sightings."

The Cape May Bird Observatory Center for Research & Education in Goshen (600 Route 47 North) is hosting an exhibit of David Sibley's early works (THE ART OF DAVID SIBLEY, JOURNEYMAN BIRDER) through November 17th. Stop by any day between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The exhibit is made up entirely of pieces from private collections and includes some of David's early field guide plates.

HUMPBACK & FINBACK WHALES have been seen from local whale watching boats out of Cape May. Up to 10 whales have been seen between Cape May and Cape Henlopen in Delaware and the water temperature is still 72 degrees F.

The big butterfly news this week is the most unusual sighting of 2 QUEENS and 1 SOLDIER! A female Queen was seen October 4 in Cape May Point, while a male Queen was seen October 5 in a backyard garden in Linwood (southern Atlantic County), and a male Soldier was seen on October 6 in the same Linwood garden. Photos of all 3 were obtained are archived at the CMBO center in Goshen. It has been a quiet summer/fall for hairstreaks, other than Gray Hairstreak, until this past week when WHITE M HAIRSTREAKs were seen in Villas on October 5 and in Linwood on October 6, and 4 RED-BANDED HAIRSTREAKS were seen in Villas on October 8. It's been a good fall for southern vagrants and still is. LONG-TAILED SKIPPERS, FIERY SKIPPERS, SACHEMS, and OCOLA SKIPPERS are all still being seen regularly at various butterfly hotspots like Pavilion Circle Gardens in Cape May Point, the butterfly bushes in the parking lot at Higbee Beach, and at the Cape May Bird Observatory's gardens in Goshen.

MONARCH MIGRATION -- The forth push of Monarchs arrived on October 7th with the coldfront & west-northwest winds. CMBO's Monarch Monitoring Project crew counted 300 Monarchs at various evening roosts that night in Cape May Point. Monarchs are moving south, heading to Oyamel fir forests on mountaintops in central Mexico. Waves of Monarchs (& many other migrants) are blown to the tip of the Cape May Peninsula (the first southbound peninsula on the East Coast) by coldfronts (winds from the north and northwest). If you truly want to see LOTS of Monarchs, pay close attention to weather. CMBO's Monarch Monitoring Project, which September 1st and will run till the end of October, so far has recorded lower numbers than average this fall. To learn more about this project go to NJ Audubon's web site: (http://www.njaudubon.org/Research) and click on "Monarch Monitoring Project." Results of this fall's daily road census results are at the end (click on "2002 Road Census"). CMBO's Monarch Intern Janine McCabe will conduct "Monarch Tagging Demos" Thursday through Monday at 1 p.m. through October 14. Other learning opportunities with CMBO's experts that focus on butterflies, their natural history, and ID include : (1) "Butterfly Walk at Cape May Point" on Thursday at 1 p.m., (2) "Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk" on Sunday at 10 a.m. CMBO's Center in Goshen has a terrific assortment of hummingbird and butterfly plants FOR SALE.

DRAGONFLY MIGRATION -- Hundreds of dragonflies were seen at dawn on October 3 coming in off the ocean at Strathmere (mostly COMMON GREEN DARNERS) and at dusk at Stone Harbor Point, also coming in off the ocean. Species that are migrating through right now include: Swamp & Green Darners, Twelve-spotted Skimmers, Wandering and Spot-winged Gliders, Black Saddlebags, and Carolina Saddlebags. CMBO's "Dragonfly Workshop & Walk" on Saturday, October 12 (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) still has room; participants will receive the up-to-date, annotated dragonfly & damselfly checklist to Cape May and Cumberland Counties by Ken Soltesz & Bob Barber.

CMBO's Avalon Seawatch began September 22. Please welcome seabird counter Karl Bardon and seawatch interpretive naturalist Tricia Rodriguez the next time you are there. 36,000+ seabirds have been tallied as of October 8th, with some mega flights this past week (6,400 on Oct. 5; 9,000 on Oct. 6, and 4,700 on Oct. 8). Loons are just beginning. N. Gannets numbers are growing. Double-creasted Cormorants are charging through, making up the bulk of the flights now. There have been 3 Great Cormorant so far mixed in, so be alert. Snow Geese & Brant have begun to move. Black Scoter numbers are growing (640 on October 8) with Surf Scoter mixed in (194 on October 4). There've been 87 Parasitic Jaegers seen so far with a peak of 26 on October 2. Learn your seabirds by attending CMBO's "Seabird ID Mini-Workshop,"taught at the Avalon Seawatch, on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to Noon.

CMBO's Cape May Autumn Hawkwatch this week saw the PEREGRINE FALCON big day flight of 291 on October 7, 1997 BROKEN by an even bigger flight on October 5 with 298 birds! The hawkwatch began September 1st with hawk counter Jason Guerard and our two hawkwatch interpretive naturalists Denny Ariola and Michael Retter. Between September 1st and the October 8th 19,300 raptors have been counted, including 1,000-1,500+ bird flights with each coldfront (Oct. 5, 6, & 8). Totals to date: 1,800 OSPREY (155 on 10/5), 104 BALD EAGLE (9 on 10/8), 423 N. HARRIER, 8,460 SHARP-SHINS (976 on 10/8), 1,430 COOPER'S HAWK (182 on 10/8), 7 RED-SHOULDERS, 413 BROAD-WINGS (so the thousands on-the-move took a different route this fall & missed us), 1 SWAINSON'S HAWK (10/1 & seen again 10/6 at Higbee Beach), 13 RED-TAILS (they're just beginning), the FIRST GOLDEN EAGLE of the fall (10/8), 4,760 AM. KESTREL (249 on 10/5), 950 MERLIN (65 on 10/6), 901 PEREGRINE (298 on 10/5, 135 on 10/4, and 127 on 10/7). Remember, coldfronts are the key. Time your visit & outings to coincide with coldfronts, winds from the north & northwest. And learn to ID hawks & eagles by attending CMBO's "Hawk ID Mini-Workshop," taught on Friday & Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Begin your Cape May weekend by attending CMBO's Friday evening "Open House" from 7-8:30 p.m. at our Center for Research & Education in Goshen (600 Rt. 47 N.). Each open house begins by sharing the past week's migration and predictions for the weekend, and is followed by a program (October 11: Kevin Karlson, "Birds on the Wind: The Magic of Migration.")

A mighty flock of BLACK SKIMMERS is staging on Cape May's beaches and is often seen near 2nd Avenue Jetty.

MARBLED GODWITS, BROWN PELICANS, BRANT, many CASPIAN TERNS, AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS, and a most amazing LONG-BILLED CURLEW were enjoyed this past week in the waterways behind Stone Harbor Point. A perfect way to get closer to this normally inaccessible watery world is CMBO's "Sunset Cruise for Fall Migrants." The Saturday, October 12 (2-6 p.m.) trip still has room. The boat cruises by active heron roosts, Clapper Rails, thousands of shorebirds, good numbers and variety of terns and gulls, Osprey & more. "Back Bay Birding By Boat" trips (every Sunday & Monday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) also get you out into this normally inaccessible area.

The late season songbirds are IN -- Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers, both kinglets and more! CMBO walks have been very birdy; be sure to attend one or all of these bird walks to witness migration unfolding. "Songbird Banding Demos" offered every Friday & Saturday from 10-10:30 a.m., weather permitting. "Sunset Birding at the Meadows" at 5:00 p.m. every Friday evening and "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point & Nummy's Island" at 4:30 p.m. every Tuesday evening. "Birding with Pete Dunne" (every Monday), "Birding Cape May Point" (every Wednesday), "Hidden Valley Bird Walk"(every Thursday), and "Fall Migrants at the Rea Farm" (every Saturday) are all from 7:30-9:30 a.m. "Higbee Beach Bird Walk" (every Sunday) is from 7-9 a.m. Three one-hour introductory programs this fall include: "The Nature of Cape May" (every Sunday) from 2-3 p.m.; "Enjoying Migration at Cape May" (every Wednesday) from 10:30-11:30 a.m; and "Birding for First Timers" (Every Thursday) from 1-2 p.m. Join Mark Garland for the specially arranged outing to a variety of "Migration Hotspots" on October 19, from 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

It's sparrow time. Get a jump start by signing up for CMBO's "Sparrows Mini-Workshop" with Michael O'Brien on Saturday, October 12 (7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.).

If you're keen on migration that begins at dusk, sign up before Friday for the October 16th "Night Watch for Migrating Bats, Owls, and Herons," 5:30-7:30 p.m.

SEASIDE GOLDENROD's golden-yellow blooms are spectacular in the dunes and natural gardens. GROUNDSEL-TREE is also blooming. The white shrubs are female and the showiest. Female RED CEDAR trees are blue with berries. POISON IVY berries are formed & the leaves are turning brilliant colors. Learn to recognize beneficial native trees & shrubs with Pat Sutton on CMBO's "Wildlife Food Plants: ID Workshop," an outdoor workshop on Friday, October 11 (1-4 p.m.).

To receive a copy of CMBO's program schedule with full details about these walks and upcoming programs, stop by either CMBO Center, or call 609-861-0700, or visit New Jersey Audubon's web site at http://www.njaudubon.org (click on "Calendar," then on "Cape May Bird Observatory").

Hummingbird sightings are very scarce now; Ruby-throats have all migrated through. Leave your feeders up, though, since NOW is when rarities from the west show up. Black-chinned, Calliope, Rufous, and Allen's Hummingbird have all been seen in Cape May County. Stop by CMBO to see our full selection of easy-to-maintain feeders and to get CMBO's handout on hummingbird feeder directions and maintenance. Coupling a feeder with habitat and gardens is the key. Stroll through the CMBO gardens (still in full bloom in early October) to get ideas for your own garden.

CMBO still has room on upcoming 4-5 Day Classic Workshops focused Raptors (Oct. 20-24) and Owls (Jan. 17-27). The 2-Day Bullet Workshop on Raptors (Oct. 12-13) is full, but taking names on a waiting list. NJ Audubon's 56th Annual Cape May Autumn Weekend / The Bird Show is October 25-27, 3 full days of workshops, field trips, programs, boat trips, & more. Many celebrities will be part of the event. Call, write, or stop by CMBO for brochures on each or visit NJ Audubon's web site.

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 Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline (updated Thursday evening).

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. Both are open DAILY, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information call 609-861-0700. Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!

Patricia Sutton, Program Director New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory Center for Research & Education, 600 Route 47 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210 609-861-0700, x-16 (phone) / 609-861-1651 (fax) pat_sutton@njaudubon.org

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