CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY & EVENTS HOTLINE A/O November 21, 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 21st. The Cape May Birding
Hotline has moved to 609-898-BIRD (sorry for any inconvenience).
Both HUMPBACK and FINBACK WHALES were seen this week off Cape May County
and close to shore. Observers on November 16th, while fishing for
Striped Bass 1-2 miles off Wildwood, had 2 HUMPBACK WHALES breaching and
feeding around them from 9 a.m. to Noon. Apparently the water was solid
Krill (little shrimp-like creatures), so thick that when fish were
caught they sparkled with krill attached to them. The krill were
attracting bay anchoves and the bay anchoves were attracting lots of
terns, N. GANNETS, gulls, and the whales. The water temperature was
about normal, about 54 degrees F. The whales were first sighted off
Hereford Inlet on November 15th. On November 18th observers aboard the
Cape May Whale Watcher (800-786-5445) enjoyed good looks at a 65'
FINBACK WHALE, another Finback spouting in the distance, and a 35'
The owl migration will continue into late November, maybe even early
December, but Katy Duffy and her husband, Patrick Matheny, needed to
return to their jobs in Montana. This fall they ran the Cape May Owl
Banding Project from October 25th through November 17th, at the peak of
that migration, and documented a fabulous owl migration by banding 277
owls, including 1 BARN OWL, a record 70 LONG-EARED OWLS, and 206
The biggest owl migration night this fall was October 28th, when 67 owls
were banded, including 18 LONG-EAREDS and 49 SAW-WHETS. That one night
of banding was higher than the entire total for the fall of 2000 (39
owls banded) and also higher than the total for the fall of 1998 (56
owls banded). In recent years two other falls stand out for owl
migration: 1999 when 411 owls were banded (20 LONG-EAREDS and 386
SAW-WHETS) and 1995 when 669 owls were banded (28 LONG-EAREDS and 637
SAW-WHETS). With this history in mind, the 70 LONG-EARED OWLS banded
this fall is highly significant! It must have been a great breeding
year for them.
Keen observers this fall have spotted a number of day-time roosting owls
along the trails at the Cape May Point State Park and in good cover
around Cape May Point, most recently two LONG-EARED OWLS on November 17
along Stevens Street. If you should spot an owl roosting in a tree by
day, please observe it from the trials. DO NOT step off the trails.
The owls WILL FLUSH and then no one else will be able to enjoy this
wonderful owly time.
Other owls in the news include a SAW-WHET on November 18th and a SNOWY
OWL on November 21st, both at Brigantine (Forsythe) NWR.
Following a good fall migration of owls like this one, 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, this fall's 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:
The CAPE MAY HAWKWATCH began on September 1st will run until November
30th, so is nearing the end. As of November 20th, 28,664 raptors have
been recorded by Bruce McWorter, the counter, and Brennan Mulrooney. 5
BALD EAGLES this week bring the fall total up to 223. N. HARRIERS
continue with some nice flights still, including 14 on the 20th.
SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS are still steady, with some nice flights this week,
including 64 on the 17th and 31 on the 18th. November 17th's flight
included 12 COOPER'S HAWKS. 24 GOSHAWKS have been recorded so far,
including 6 this week (a single on the 16th and 5 on the 17th). Buteo
flights were minimal this week, but a late BROAD-WINGED HAWK was counted
on the 17th. To date, 10 GOLDEN EAGLES have been recorded this fall.
Small numbers of AMERICAN KESTREL (4 on the 17th), MERLINS (1 on the
18th), and PEREGRINES (1 on the 18th) were seen this week. 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, and Brennan Mulrooney have
already recorded 557,796 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. 29,066 RED-THROATED
LOONS have been counted so far with 1,000s passing daily now, including
a flight of 3,438 on November 18th. 20-80 COMMON LOONS are passing
daily now. A RED-NECKED GREBE was counted on the 16th. 16,034 N.
GANNETS have been counted so far with @ 1,000 birds passing daily now,
including 945 on November 19th. 2 late BROWN PELICANS flew by on the
19th. 167,280 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT have been counted so far,
including 3,392 on the 17th. Be alert for GREAT CORMORANTS mixed in,
there were 5 on November 18th. 2 COMMON EIDER were flybys at the
Seawatch on November 16th. LONG-TAILED DUCK are being seen now,
including 10 on the 18th. The biggest scoter flight so far this fall
came on October 27 and 28, when 40,000 passed. Hundreds, and some days
thousands, are still being counted daily. On November 17th the scoter
flight included 2,092 BLACK SCOTER, 2,311 SURF SCOTER, and 92
WHITE-WINGED SCOTER. RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS are steady now, with 30-60
daily. 2 PARASITIC JAEGERS were seen this week on the 19th. The Avalon
Seawatch's first RAZORBILL was seen November 15th and its first DOVEKIE
of the fall on November 16th.
A male HARLEQUIN DUCK was seen at the Barnegat Lighthouse jetty on
November 19th. Harlequin Ducks winter around this jetty annually.
Sometimes the birds are up near the Lighthouse, other times one has to
walk the jetty or beach almost out the end. This bird was out near the
end of the jetty.
3 AMERICAN AVOCETS continue at Bivalve in Cumberland County and were
most recently reported on November 17.
Sparrow stalkers on November 18th enjoyed 20 SHARP-TAILED SPARROWS
(including 10 NELSON'S SHARP-TAILED, 5 SALTMARSH SHARP-TAILED, and 5
unidentified) and 2 "IPSWICH" SAVANNAH SPARROWS on Ocean Drive near Two-Mile
Landing, just north of Cape May.
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 about 6,700 MONARCHS at Cape May Point
in September and October. Three of these tagged Monarchs have been seen
elsewhere along their journey as they head to the mountains of Mexico
(where they will spend the winter). Two were found by a fellow Monarch
tagger in Chincoteague, Virginia, and 1 was just found in Orlando,
Florida. Recoveries are so important to this project, documenting the
route, timing, and survival of migrating Monarchs.
For a history of CMBO's Monarch Monitoring Project and details on this
fall's weekly road census, go to: http://www.concord.org/~dick/mon.html
A frost finally "hit" gardens and wild areas south of the Cape May
canal, knocking out most of the remaining nectar. There may still be a
few flowers blooming in sheltered spots. Butterfly sightings are slim
this week and include a CHECKERED SKIPPER (in the Villas on Nov. 16), 2
RED ADMIRAL (in Cape May Point on Nov. 16), 1 COMMON BUCKEYE on the 16th
in "The Meadows" on Sunset Blvd., and a COMMON BUCKEYE on the 19th at
the CMBO Center in Goshen. YELLOW-LEGGED MEADOWHAWKS are still being
seen. These colorful dragonflies with their bright red abdomens are one
of the latest flying dragonflies to be found.
New Jersey Audubon's web site has the Cape May County Butterfly
Checklist available as a download:
NJ's nesting BALD EAGLE population now stands at 31 pairs according to
the NJ Endangered & Nongame Species Program. These adults do not
migrate. Since early October observers have noticed that many of them
are again spending time back at their nest. We have just learned that
the Stow Creek Bald Eagle nest blew down in early October. Both adults
remain in the area near the giant Sycamore tree that held their original
nest, and it is hoped that they will rebuild their nest. This nest has
been one of the most successful, often producing 3 youngsters. Bald
Eagles and Great Horned Owls are our earliest nesting birds, so they
have already set up their nesting territories.
Many leaves have fallen and it is time to haunt the woods looking for
old raptor, crow, or heron nests that Great Horned Owls may use as nest
sites come January. Pairs of GREAT HORNED OWLS have been vocal most
dawns and dusks, since September. Each pair is near its potential nest
site. Their hooting is a declaration of the territory they've set up.
If you should hear the male's hoot, "whoo-who-who-who, whoooo, whoooo,"
and the female's lower answer ("wooo woooo") 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 are no doubt ripe enough to eat. Keep an eye
on them since they'll attract hungry birds as well. There is an
excellent crop of holly berries on American Holly trees which bodes well
for wintering Robin numbers. Other important food attracting migrants
as well as birds that may winter here includes berries on Poison Ivy
shoots, Red Cedar trees, Multiflora Rose bushes and other roses too,
Sour Gum or Black Gum trees, Bayberry and Waxmyrtle bushes, Virginia
Creeper vines, and Catbrier tangles. The fluffy white flowers on female
Groundsel-tree bushes continue to accent the landscape.
The Cape May Bird Observatory has weekly 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:
A special field trip coming up that still has room, includes:
WATERFOWL CRUISE on Saturday, November 24 (11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) --
This 4-hour tour (beginning and ending at Cape May) is aboard the
Skimmer, a stable 40-foot catamaran with open and enclosed viewing
decks. The trip will explore the inaccessible reaches of back bay
waters between Cape May and Stone Harbor, an area where thousands of
waterfowl winter, including most of the Atlantic Coast population of
Brant, a small goose. Also expect to enjoy good looks at mergansers,
loons, Horned Grebes, Bufflehead, Long-tailed Duck, Northern Harriers,
Great Cormorants, shorebirds (Marbled Godwit is possible), Bonaparte's
Gulls, and more! Cost: $35 CMBO / NJAS members, $45 nonmembers.
To register for either, call CMBO at 609-861-0700, x-11.
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!