CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY AND EVENTS HOTLINE, November 22, 2004
This is the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a service of New
Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This message was
prepared on Monday, November 22; happy Thanksgiving. For bird news check
the Cape May Birding Hotline at (609) 898-2473. NJ Audubon's three hotlines
may be read on our Web site (http://www.njaudubon.org); click "Sightings" at the
top of any page.
As always, autumn is lingering longer in Cape May than at inland locations,
as the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay waters remain moderately warm,
tempering the regional cold snaps. As such, there is still attractive fall
color in the foliage of our deciduous trees, a few late season wildflowers
are still in bloom, dragonflies and butterflies are still flying (a monarch
tagged somewhere else was seen in Cape May Point on November 17th), and
spring peepers, those noisy little tree frogs, are still calling. Many
southbound migratory songbirds are still lingering in Cape May, their
numbers swelled with the arrival of winter residents. Waterfowl numbers are
building rapidly and raptors continue to move through the region. Here are
some recent highlights.
Many species are being seen in or near peak numbers at the Avalon Sea Watch.
RED-THROATED LOONS and NORTHERN GANNETS have been especially numerous
lately, with mainstays DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, BLACK SCOTER, and SURF
SCOTER still migrating past the watch in great numbers. Other recent
highlights from Avalon include KING EIDER, COMMON EIDER, BLACK-LEGGED
KITTIWAKE, and GLAUCOUS GULL. Visit the Sea Watch any day through December
22nd any time from sunrise to sunset - the location is along the seawall at
the junction of First Avenue and Seventh Street in Avalon. Take exit 13
east from the Garden State Parkway and, upon entering Avalon, make the third
left onto First Avenue. Drive to the end.
The Hawk Watch at Cape May Point will continue through November 30th. A
record low count for AMERICAN KESTREL will occur this year, and it is likely
that a record high count will be tallied for COOPER'S HAWK. Is there a
connection? NORTHERN GOSHAWKS have been seen almost every day from the Hawk
Watch during November, and many of these birds seem to be lingering around
Cape May, as sightings are being frequently reported from all the regular
birding areas around Cape Island (Higbee, Hidden Valley, Beanery, Meadows,
Freezing temperatures have only occurred one night thus far this autumn in
Cape May, and sheltered pockets seemed to avoid the freeze. Some tender
plants in gardens and in natural settings are therefore still blooming.
Tubular red flowers such as pineapple sage, still blooming in many gardens
here in Cape May, may attract wandering hummingbirds. This is peak season
for the arrival of rare hummingbirds, so if you don't have flowers left,
consider keeping a hummingbird feeder out. You might attract one of these
strays. Possibilities include Ruby-throated, Rufous, Allen's, Calliope,
Black-chinned, and who knows what else?
The mild weather has also kept many insects active. Recent sightings
include many Green Darner dragonflies through Cape May, and the following
butterflies: ORANGE SULPHUR, CLOUDED SULPHUR, CLOUDLESS SULPHUR, MONARCH,
COMMON BUCKEYE, SACHEM, QUESTION MARK, and MOURNING CLOAK. BLACK
SWALLOWTAIL and MONARCH CATERPILLARS are still feeding actively.
Many bats migrate, though they move primarily at night. A migrating RED BAT
stunned itself at Cape May Point State Park on Nov. 20th when it flew into
equipment working in the park, hinting at the migration that's occurring
hidden from our view. Owls also migrate at night, and the Cape May Owl
Banding team completed their work last week, banding a season total of 99
NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS, 11 LONG-EARED OWLS, and 1 BARN OWL. Owls are
certainly continuing to migrate, but it's now up to vigilant birders to
search them out.
Cape May's COYOTES have been quite active and vocal recently, with most
reports coming from the northwestern quadrant of Cape Island. A very late
ATLANTIC BOTTLE-NOSED DOLPHIN was seen off Two Mile Beach on Nov. 21st. A
RIVER OTTER was glimpsed at Cape May Point State Park on Nov. 21st.
Nocturnal naturalists around Cape May were treated to sightings of the
aurora borealis on several nights in early November. While sightings of the
northern lights are rare at this latitude, many winter evenings are crystal
clear - perfect conditions for viewing aurorae, stars, and planets.
Whenever the full moon shines in winter (next full moon will be Nov. 26th),
the nocturnal world can be surprisingly bright.
Enjoy the wonders of late autumn in Cape May by attending some of the
upcoming CMBO programs:
Weekly walks (no advanced registration, $6 for members, $10 for others):
. Wednesdays, 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., Nov. 24, Dec. 1 through 29: BIRDING CAPE
MAY POINT. Meet at the South Shelter, Cape May Point State Park.
. Saturdays, 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., Nov. 27, Dec., 4, & Dec. 11: FALL MIGRANTS
AT THE REA FARM. Meet at the Beanery, along Bayshore Rd. just north of
. Fridays, 8:00 to 10:00 a.m., Dec. 3, 10, & 17: LATE FALL BIRDING IN CAPE
MAY. Meet at the Hawk Watch Platform, Cape May Point State Park.
Preregistration programs (prices vary; call 609-861-0700 for info and/or to
. ALL ABOUT OWLS: Saturday, Dec. 4, 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. Pat Sutton,
. CAPE HENLOPEN & BROADKILL MARSH: Saturday, Dec. 4, 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Mark Garland, leader.
. BIRDING FROM THE FERRY: Saturday, Dec. 11, 7:00 to 11:00 a.m. Mark
Many other programs are scheduled for early 2005; contact either CMBO Center
for a copy of the Kestrel Express, which features the schedule, or check on
the web at http://www.njaudubon.org
The Cape May Bird Observatory offers an extensive series of regular nature
walks that require no pre-registration and many special field trips and
programs for which advanced registration is required. To receive a copy of
our current (December 2004 - February 2005) Program Schedule (the Kestrel
Express), stop at one of our centers, call the office during business hours
at 609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's web site at
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 natural significance of Cape May. Your membership supports these goals
and this hotline. Please report your natural history observations to CMBO's
Center in Goshen at 609-861-0700. Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL