Cape May Natural History Hotline - 11/8/2001

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 8th. The Cape May Birding Hotline has moved to 609-898-BIRD (sorry for any inconvenience).

The owl migration is still underway and will continue into late November, maybe even early December. 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, at the peak of that migration. October 27th was the first night they banded owls. Since then they have banded 181 owls: 1 BARN OWL, 56 LONG-EARED OWLS, and 124 SAW-WHET OWLS. Two major movements occurred this week. 21owls were banded on November 3rd (5 LONG-EARED and 16 SAW-WHETS) and 33 were banded on November 7th (8 LONG-EARED and 25 SAW-WHETS). The BARN OWL was banded on November 6th.

If conditions look good for owl migration, Katy Duffy or Patrick Matheny 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."

Keen observers have spotted day-time roosting owls along the trails at the Cape May Point State Park, including 4 LONG-EARED OWLS on November 8 on the Yellow Trail, 1 LONG-EARED OWL on November 7 on the Yellow Trail, and 7 LONG-EARED OWLS on November 4 on the Red Trail. 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. Let's please police each other; speak up if you see someone leaving the trails -- it's disruptive to the owls and robs others of the pleasure of seeing them. Thanks!

Observers continue to gather at dusk (4:45 p.m. to @ 5:40 p.m.) on the viewing platform in The Meadows to scan for migrating owls. Nearly all owl sightings 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 owls, but the challenge has attracted some keen observers and these numbers reflect their judgement: November 3rd (1 LONG-EARED and 1 SHORT-EARED), November 4 (1 LONG-EARED), November 7 (2 LONG-EARED types). Other nocturnal migrants enjoyed by these dusk observers may include AMERICAN BITTERN, COMMON SNIPE, AMERICAN WOODCOCK, NIGHT HERONS, and BATS!

Often 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: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calspec.html

The CAPE MAY HAWKWATCH began on September 1st and has entered its third month. As of November 7th 26,970 raptors have been recorded by Bruce McWorter, the counter. Lone OSPREY continue this week. The BALD EAGLE total to date is 215 and includes 6 seen on November 4. N. HARRIER numbers have been good this week, with 41 on the 6th and 57 on the 7th. Between 96 an 111 SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS have been counted daily since November 4. November 7th's flight included 21 COOPER'S HAWKS. 4 GOSHAWK were seen this week, 1 on the 4th and 3 on the 6th. There were 23 RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS on the 4th and 16 on the 6th. 4 BROAD-WINGED HAWKS were seen this week. 100 RED-TAILED HAWKS were counted on the 6th. And GOLDEN EAGLES finally came, with 1 on the 4th, 2 on the 5th, and 3 on the 6th. AMERICAN KESTREL (16 on the 6th), MERLINS (7 on the 5th), and PEREGRINES (2 on the 4th & 5th) continue. To view the CMBO Hawkwatch daily totals, go to: http://www.capemaytimes.com/birds/hawkwatch.htm#totals

The AVALON SEAWATCH (7th Street and the beach in Avalon) began on September 22nd and Karl Bardon, the counter, has already recorded 453,291 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. Some season firsts this week include: RED-NECKED GREBE on November 6th, CANVASBACK on the 6th, REDHEAD on the 4th, HARLEQUIN DUCK on the 4th, and BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE on the 1st. This past week had some incredible flights, with over 10,000 birds on the 7th, the 6th, and the 4th. The bulk of the flight is made up of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, SURF SCOTER, and BLACK SCOTER. Numbers of WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS is increasing, with 28 on the 7th. Expect 100-200 COMMON LOONS per day, 120-350 RED-THROATED LOONS per day, 100's of N. GANNET (666 on the 7th), and dozens of RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS mixed into each day's flight (55 on 7th). Other highlights this week include 5 GREAT CORMORANT (2 on the 5th, 1 on the 6th), 4 COMMON EIDER (3 on the 1st, 1 on the 5th), and 1 PARASITIC JAEGER on the 4th.

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 smattering of Monarchs are still being seen, including 1 at the Avalon Seawatch on the 7th, though spotty now that we've entered November.

It has been an amazingly warm week. Flowers are still blooming and butterflies and dragonflies are still flying. Ten species of butterfly were enjoyed in and around Cape May Point on November 4th, including: 40+ ORANGE SULPHURS, 2 CLOUDED SULPHURS, 1 VARIEGATED FRITILLARY, 1 AMERICAN LADY, 2 PAINTED LADIES, 2 COMMON BUCKEYES, 2 tattered RED ADMIRALS, 3 PEARL CRESCENTS, 3 MONARCHS, and a COMMON CHECKERED SKIPPER (which was at Higbee Beach on the flowers by the entrance). On November 4th COMMON GREEN DARNERS were hunting warm edges out of the wind and 10+ YELLOW-LEGGED MEADOWHAWKS were kicked up in sunny pathways at the Rea Farm, including two pairs in tandem.

New Jersey Audubon's web site has the Cape May County Butterfly Checklist available as a download: http://www.njaudubon.org/NatureNotes/bflies.html

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. 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. Other important food attracting migrant birds right now 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: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

Two special field trips coming up that still have room, include: (1) 'Gannet Gawking' on Saturday, November 17 (9:00 to 11:00 AM) -- held when masses of Northern Gannets migrate by our shores, adults and different aged immatures -- so lots of variety in plumage. Join Pat Sutton at a truly scenic site, the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse and Gardens in North Wildwood, where we'll let the birds come to us. An ideal adventure for those with limited mobility or energy who want to enjoy gannets galore. If we're in luck, the winds will be from the northeast and these impressive seabirds will be close to shore. Cost: $10 CMBO / NJAS members, $15 nonmembers; Limit: 20 people. (2) CAPE MAY NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE FIELD TRIP on Saturday, November 17 (1:00 to 4:00 PM) -- This NWR was dedicated in 1989 and will ultimately preserve more than 22,500 acres in Cape May County. To date about 11,000 acres have been purchased and are open to walking access for bird and butterfly watching, photography, hiking, and nature study. This field trip will explore the "Delaware Bay Division" via trails running through a rich area of previously inaccessible fields and old forests on the edge of the Delaware Bay. Access to this rich birding area is not easy to find and refuge boundary signs frighten some potential visitors off, stating that "unauthorized entry (is) prohibited." Refuge staff will co-lead this field trip with Pat Sutton. Expect a fair amount of walking. Cost: $15 CMBO / NJ Audubon members, $25 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!

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