CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY & EVENTS HOTLINE A/O November 1, 2001
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 Thursday, November 1st. The Cape May Birding Hotline
has moved to 609-898-BIRD (sorry for any inconvenience).
New Jersey Audubon's 55th Annual Cape May Autumn Weekend / THE Bird Show
-- October 26, 27, & 28 will be remembered for years to come! The
fall's best coldfront hit right on target and a flood of raptors,
sparrows, and in the end owls came through! An amazing 193 species were
The season's first migrant owl of the fall was seen October 28th, when a
SHORT-EARED OWL flushed from its daytime roost in the dune grass at the
Cape May Point State Park. Sunday night of the Autumn Weekend, October
28, the winds dropped but remained from the north and northwest . . .
perfect for migrating owls. Katy Duffy and her husband, Patrick
Matheny, journey here from Montana each fall to run the Cape May Owl
Banding Project from about October 25th through about November 20th.
October 27th was the first night owls were banded, including 5
LONG-EAREDS and 2 SAW-WHET OWLS. The next two nights the wind remained
gentle from the north, the skies were clear, and owls flooded through.
October 28th 18 LONG-EARED and 49 SAW-WHET OWLS were banded and on
October 29th 15 LONG-EARED and 12 SAW-WHET OWLS were banded. Numbers
quieted the next two nights, but the month of October's total is 38
LONG-EARED OWLS and 72 SAW-WHET OWLS banded by this project.
During this owly stretch a number of owls were discovered roosting by
day in dense cover along the Yellow Trail at the Cape May Point State
Park. One pine tree held 8 LONG-EAREDS the morning of October 29, 4 of
which remained all day long and entertained many. Nearby a SAW-WHET OWL
was discovered in a branch hanging over the trail. On October 30, a
daytime roosting SAW-WHET was found on the State Park Yellow Trail and a
BARN OWL at Higbee Beach.
Sunday, Monday, & Tuesday nights (October 28, 29, & 30) at dusk (between
5-6 p.m.) from the viewing platform in The Meadows, observers watched
10-20+ large owls get up out of the distant tree line & begin to migrate
with the setting sun as a backdrop. It's been "Out of this world!"
Nearly all of these observations occur when the light is nearly gone and
the owl shapes are dark moth-like silhouettes against the faint red glow
of the setting sun. It is a struggle to separate the silhouette of
Long-eared and Short-eared, but the challenge has attracted some keen
observers and these numbers reflect their judgement. October 28th, 5 +
LONG-EAREDS, 1 SHORT-EAREDS, 1 BARN OWL, and 1 perched local GREAT
HORNED OWL were seen. October 29, 10-12 LONG-EAREDS and 2-4
SHORT-EARED were seen. October 30, 26 LONG-EAREDS and 1 SHORT-EARED
were counted in a half hour period as they got up out of the distant
trees. Other nocturnal migrants enjoyed by these dusk observers
included AMERICAN BITTERN (10+ on October 28 at dusk), COMMON SNIPE,
AMERICAN WOODCOCK, NIGHT HERONS, and BATS!
If conditions look good for owl migration, Katy Duffy will meet people
in the parking lot on Sunset Boulevard at The Nature Conservancy's "Cape
May Migratory Bird Refuge," also know as The Meadows at 8 p.m. and do a
brief "Owl Demo" with whatever they've caught at their 7:30 p.m. check.
If their truck is in the parking lot (it has Montana plates) and they
are not there by 8 p.m., it means that they're busy with owls and will
be out shortly. Many nights migration conditions are not good (winds
are too strong or from the wrong direction, south or east), owls do not
come through, and no owls are caught. So, before coming, call CMBO's
Northwood Center (609-884-2736) anytime after 3 p.m. or stop in and the
staff will know whether or not there might be an 8 p.m. "Owl Demo."
The next weather to trigger migrating owls looks like Sunday and / or
Monday, November 4 or 5, but stay tunned to the weather and remember
that what owls need to migrate is gently winds from the north or
northwest (or still nights) and clear skies.
Often following a good fall migration of owls, good numbers of wintering
owls occur, owls that journeyed no further and ended their migration
here in southern New Jersey, especially in the habitat-rich Delaware
Bayshore. So, the last week of owl migration bodes VERY WELL for CMBO's
4-day "Winter Workshop for Hawks, Owls, and Waterfowl," January 25-28,
2002; and there's still room on this workshop. Sign up now and plan to
join us! For details go to:
A flood of sparrows (including some normally-tough-to-find species) was
enjoyed during the Cape May Autumn Weekend, October 26-28, including:
CHIPPING SPARROW, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, FIELD SPARROW, VESPER SPARROW, LARK SPARROW, SAVANNAH SPARROW, GRASSHOPPER SPARROW,
SALTMARSH SHARP-TAILED SPARROW, SEASIDE SPARROW, FOX SPARROW, SONG SPARROW, LINCOLN'S SPARROW, SWAMP SPARROW,
WHITE-THROATED, and WHITE-CROWNED. Both KINGLETS are here in force,
with constant "fid-gett" and "tse, tse, tse" sounds entertaining every
walk. WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS are in at feeding stations and calling,
"Oh, Canada, Canada, Canada." Thousands of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS and
their kissing calls entertain hikers as they feed on Poison Ivy berries
and the heavy load of beautiful blue berries on Red Cedar trees.
The CAPE MAY HAWKWATCH began on September 1st and has entered its third
month. As of October 30th 36,538 raptors have been recorded by Bruce
McWorter, the counter. The raptor "show," a sky-full of raptors
day-after-day, during the Cape May Autumn Weekend was dazzling! Friday,
October 26 (918 raptors), Saturday, October 27 (1,001), and Sunday,
October 28 (770 raptors)! Highlights included excellent comparisons of
Black & Turkey Vultures, a steady stream of BALD EAGLES (including 7 on
the 26th & 6 on the 27th), lots of NORTHERN HARRIERS (65 on 26th & 76 on
27th), SHARP-SHINS (498 on 26th & 610 on 27th), COOPER'S HAWKS (74 on
27th & 92 on 28th), GOSHAWKS (3 on 28th, 3 on 29th, & 1 on 30th),
flights of RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS (33 on 27th, 61 on 28th, & 29 on 29th),
still some late BROAD-WINGED HAWKS, the season's 1st SWAINSONS HAWK on
October 26th, big flights of RED-TAILED HAWKS (168 on 28th & 100 on
29th), AMERICAN KESTRELS (153 on 25th & 201 on 26th), MERLINS (177 on
25th & 70 on 26th), and PEREGRINES (17 on 25th, 4 on 26th, 3 on 27th).
To view the CMBO Hawkwatch daily totals, go to:
The AVALON SEAWATCH (7th Street and the beach in Avalon) began on
September 22nd and Karl Bardon, the counter, has already recorded
346,000 seabirds. Bring a scope and your binoculars and enjoy the
flight of seabirds as they migrate south along the coastline, often
passing quite close to the Seawatch at the north end of Avalon because
it juts a mile out into the ocean. This past week has seen some
incredible flights, with over 10,000 birds daily and an amazing 65,700
on the 28th and 37,500 on the 29th. The bulk of the flight is made up
of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, SURF SCOTER, and BLACK SCOTER. 12-17+
WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS are mixed into each day's flight. COMMON LOONS,
RED-THROATED LOONS, N. GANNET, and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS are all
steady now. Highlights include 2 GREAT CORMORANT on 29th, 2 COMMON
EIDER on 28th, and PARASITIC JAEGERS daily with 4 on the 25th, 2 on the
28th & 29th.
CMBO's Monarch Monitoring Project began September 1st. Chris Kisiel,
this fall's Monarch Migration Technician, Louise Zemaitis, Michael
O'Brien, and LuAnn Tracy tagged close to 7,000 MONARCHS at Cape May
Point since then. For a history of CMBO's Monarch Monitoring Project
and details on this fall's weekly road census, go to:
Monarchs are still being seen, though spotty now that we've entered
November. Some chrysalides are still emerging. The Avalon Seawatch
counted 38 Monarchs migrating by on October 27th.
Along with Monarchs, RED ADMIRALS, PAINTED LADIES, AMERICAN LADIES,
QUESTION MARKS, COMMON BUCKEYES, ORANGE SULPHURS, CABBAGE WHITES, a few
PEARL CRESCENTS, GRAY HAIRSTREAK, and a lone VARIEGATED FRITILLARY
(10/23 at Hidden Valley) continue to color the landscape wherever
flowers (marigolds, Montauk Daisies, Heath Asters, and Verbena
bonariensis) still bloom in sunny and out of the wind nooks.
A flurry of WHITE M HAIRSTREAK sightings (three) occurred this past
week: one at Cape May Point, one at the Rea Farm, and one in Linwood,
NJ. These sightings indicate immigration, something WHITE M HAIRSTREAK
is known to do some years.
New Jersey Audubon's web site has the Cape May County Butterfly
Checklist available as a download:
The NJ Endangered & Nongame Species Program recently shared that NJ's
nesting Bald Eagle population now stands at 31 pairs. These adults do
not migrate; since early October observers have noticed that many of
them are again spending time back at their nest. Bald Eagles and Great
Horned Owls are our earliest nesting birds, so they are already setting
Pairs of GREAT HORNED OWLS have set up territories already and are
hooting to one another at dawn and dusk. If you should hear the male's
hoot, "whoo-who-who-who, whoooo, whoooo," you can be assured that a pair
will nest somewhere nearby come January.
COYOTES continue to be seen and heard in the Higbee Beach area and along
New England Road. These new residents are doing an excellent job of
keeping feral cats under control, or so it seems, since very few feral
cats have been seen since the Coyotes moved into the area . . .
certainly a positive change for migratory songbirds!
Persimmon trees are ripe with bright orange fruits and now that we've
had our first frost they may even be ripe enough to eat. Keep an eye on
them since they'll attract hungry birds as well. The fluffy white
flowers on female Groundsel-tree bushes continue to accent the
The Cape May Bird Observatory has daily walks, requiring no
pre-registration, and many special field trips and programs that do. To
receive a copy of our Program Schedule, stop by our centers, or call
609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's WEB SITE at:
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 hotline. For more information
call 609-861-0700 or send a request for information to CMBO, 600 Route
47 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210. 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.
The Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline is a service of New Jersey
Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory and details sightings from Cape May,
Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties and near shore waters. Updates are
made on Thursday evenings. Please report natural history sightings to
CMBO at 609-861-0700 or 609-884-2736. For the Cape May Birding Hotline
call 609-898-BIRD. Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!
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)