Cape May Natural History Hotline - 2/14/2002
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 Thursday, February 14. The Cape May Birding Hotline has moved to 609-898-BIRD (sorry for any inconvenience).

Cumberland County's WINTER RAPTOR FESTIVAL on Saturday, February 9, drew an amazing 1,200 registrants! And delighted they were in all that was seen and learned. BALD EAGLES were seen mating at two locations and one pair was seen carrying sticks to a new nest near the Maple Avenue Impoundments in Dividing Creek. The pair of Bald Eagles at Newport Landing had still not decided which of their three nests they would be laying eggs in. They were seen through the day at or near all three nests. A GREAT HORNED OWL nest was found at Turkey Point, and the birds must have just laid eggs because CMBO's weekly Sunday morning walk at Turkey Point had not noticed the birds just days before. They're using an old Red-tailed Hawk's nest. Lots of N. HARRIER, courting RED-TAILED HAWKS, BLACK VULTURES and TURKEY VULTURES, and a few AMERICAN KESTREL were enjoyed at the various observation sites. A flock of 30 SNOW BUNTINGS flew by the Maurice River bridge.

Some very distressing news on the natural history front involves our MONARCHS at their overwintering site in Mexico. News is just coming in about a devastating winter storm on January 11, where torrential rains soaked many of the Monarchs and knocked them off the trees and to the ground. They piled up on the ground, laying in water and mud. The storm was followed by low temperatures in the 20s for several days and many of the Monarchs were killed (wet and frozen). Dead Monarchs lay in piles on the ground, in some places more than a foot high. Lincoln Brower estimates the mortality in the tens of millions. Pre storm estimates of living Monarchs determined there to be 100 million or more at the winter roosts this winter. 74% of the Sierra Chincua colony was lost due to this storm & following deep freeze and 80% of the El Rosario colony was lost. All of the above information was gleaned from Monarch Watch's Dplex-L Email Discussion List (visit http://www.MonarchWatch.org/dplex).

Every single MONARCH sighting this spring will be significant. Wildlife friendly gardens and meadows with milkweed (that has been spared the mower) will be crucial to the small number of survivors that we are now counting on to parent future generations that we hope will populate the U.S. all the way north to southern Canada. If you have considered gardening for butterflies, but not known where to start, begin by signing up for CMBO's upcoming series of workshops on "Gardening for Wildlife." Actually all four workshops will be helpful to new (and experienced) butterfly gardeners, but if you're short on time, the 2nd workshop in the series focuses totally on "How to Create a Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden." For more details go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

SHORT-EARED OWLS have been regular at a few sites this winter and continue to be seen at Jakes Landing. 2 were seen there on February 8 at 5:45 p.m. Dusk is getting later and later, so be patient and you might be rewarded. The SNOWY OWL at Forsythe NWR (fondly known as "Brig") was last reported on February 9 seen from the south dike. This bird has been very illusive. Check the sighting sheets at the refuge to learn of the birds' recent whereabouts.

Signs of SPRING continue! A week ago huge flocks of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS were on the move and noticeable to birders and non birders alike. This week lots of Red-winged Blackbirds can be heard singing their spring song, "Konk-a-ree." SNIPE are also on the move. 45 were seen along the Maurice River on February 12 at high tide. RED-TAILED HAWKS are courting and being enjoyed sitting side-by-side and doing aerial displays for one another. February 12th BALD EAGLES were on eggs at a few of the 31 nests in New Jersey. Observers watched the adults changing places on the nest, a sure sign that eggs have been laid. And AMERICAN WOODCOCK are performing their amazing spring courtship aerial display most evenings at dusk, around 6 p.m. or a little later. Males start off this display by "peenting," then shoot skyward and "dance" and sing in the sky for any interested female woodcock. CMBO's first weekly "Woodcock Walk at the Meadows" is Friday, February 15 (5:30 p.m. till dark). This walk will be offered every Friday through March 29. Meet at The Nature Conservancy's refuge parking area on Sunset Boulevard. On these walks you might also enjoy snipe on the move, Virginia Rails calling, and other signs of spring. No preregistration is needed; just come! A few butterfly reports even came in this week. A RED ADMIRAL was seen in Cape May Point on February 8 and a CLOUDED SULPHUR at the Rea Farm on February 13.

Four of CMBO's weekly winter walks are underway. And a lot of goodies are around. These walks require no preregistration; JUST COME! There is a charge ($6 CMBO/ NJ Audubon member; $10 nonmember).

(1) The "Woodcock Walk at the Meadows" is offered every FRIDAY, through March 29 (5:30 p.m. till dark) and meets at The Nature Conservancy's refuge parking area on Sunset Boulevard. On these walks you might also enjoy snipe on the move, Virginia Rails calling, and other signs of spring.

(2) The "Birding Cape May Point" walk is offered every SATURDAY, through March 30 (10 a.m. to Noon), and meets at the Cape May Point State Park in the raised picnic pavilion. Some of the goodies enjoyed at Cape May Point so far this winter include RED-THROATED LOON, TUNDRA SWAN, AMERICAN BITTERN & LEAST BITTERN, PINTAIL, HOODED MERGANSERS, N. SHOVELER, CANVASBACK, COOT, RING-NECKED DUCK, SNIPE, CEDAR WAXWING, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, PURPLE FINCH, BALTIMORE ORIOLE and more!

(3) The "Sunday Morning at Turkey Point" walk is offered every SUNDAY, through March 31 (8 to 10 a.m.), and meets at the wildlife viewing platform at the end of Turkey Point Road in Cumberland County (reached from Route 553 west or north of the town of Dividing Creek). Pete & Linda Dunne, and Karen Williams are the leaders and so far this winter have been enjoying at Turkey Point lots of close looks at SNOW GEESE, most mornings GREAT HORNED OWLS at dawn, RED-TAILED HAWKS on territory, adult and immature BALD EAGLES, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS, MARSH WRENS, VIRGINIA and CLAPPER RAILS, and some days even looks at FOX, OTTER, and one day a MINK. There have also been lots of waterfowl, including all 3 MERGANSERS. Shorebirds enjoyed there include: AMERICAN WOODCOCK, SNIPE, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, LESSER YELLOWLEGS, DUNLIN and DOWITCHER.

(4) The "Delaware Bayshore Birding" walk is offered every MONDAY, through April 1 (10 a.m. to Noon), and meets at the CMBO Center for Research & Education in Goshen. N. HARRIERS, ROUGH-LEGGED & RED-TAILED HAWKS, BALD EAGLE, BLACK VULTURES, thousands upon thousands of SNOW GEESE, BROWN CREEPER, FOX SPARROW, E. MEADOWLARK, and more are all possible.

For a complete listing of CMBO's WINTER PROGRAMS (January through March 2002) stop by either of our centers and pick up the Winter Kestrel Express, or call 609-861-0700 and ask us to mail it to you, or go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calspec.html

HIGHLIGHTS OF A FEW UPCOMING PROGRAM (in addition to those already detailed above) follow:

Join us for one, several, or all three BIRDING FOR BEGINNERS (Saturday, February 23; Wednesday, March 6; Saturday, March 16) from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. These slow-paced field trips will visit one or more natural areas on Cape Island. Each meets at the CMBO Northwood Center in Cape May Point and begins with that site's feeding station. Other destinations will be chosen based on the weather and on recent sightings. No previous birding experience necessary. Time will be spent with every bird seen, discussing identification and natural history. No need to register, JUST COME. There is a charge ($6 CMBO/ NJ Audubon member; $10 nonmember).

"LONGTAILS IN LOVE" on Saturday, February 16 (10 a.m. - 2 p.m.) still has room & will explore the winter waterways in search of courting Longtails, since they'll soon be heading north to the Arctic where they breed. We'll also enjoy a host of other winter waterfowl, but only the Longtails and Common Goldeneyes will be displaying. Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register.

A series of 4 "GARDENING FOR WILDLIFE WORKSHOPS" are scheduled and still have room. (1) Saturday, February 23: "How to Create a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife." (2) Saturday, March 2: "How to Create a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden." (3) Saturday, March 9: "How to Create a Wildflower Meadow & a Pond for Wildlife." (4) Saturday, March 16: "How to Maintain Your Wildlife Habitat." All run from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM and will be taught by Pat Sutton and Karen Williams. Learn how to enhance your backyard landscaping for wildlife. Shake the winter, embrace spring, and come learn how you can plan your own backyard to attract showy hummingbirds, monarchs and other butterflies, bluebirds and other nesting birds, wintering birds, and so much more! These workshops have been scheduled for late winter, the perfect time to plan your gardens, order plants and seeds, and dream of the coming months. The first workshop is the backbone to the series and will supply a good foundation for the other three workshops. Topics covered during the final workshop will include pruning and shaping trees and shrubs, techniques for late winter clean-up, spring chores like dividing and moving perennials, new bed preparation, soil maintenance and nourishment, selection of annual seed varieties, starting annuals from seed, and much more. Each workshop will include a question and answer session regarding each landowner's particular situation. Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register.

"7th GREAT ANNUAL DUCK ROUND-UP IN CAPE MAY & CUMBERLAND COUNTIES" on Saturday, March 9 (8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) with Pete Dunne and Jay Darling (Captain of the Mighty Waterfowlers Team on the World Series of Birding). Oceanfront hotspots and little known Delaware Bayshore sites will be visited. Late winter/early spring is the time of peak diversity; 23 or so species of waterfowl, plus an assortment of other sea and land birds, is possible! There's still room!!! Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register.

7 different MAURICE RIVER BALD EAGLE CRUISES still have room. 2 trips on Saturday, March 23 (10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1-3:30 p.m.); Sunday, March 24 (10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.); Saturday, March 30 (10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.); 2 trips on Saturday, April 6 (10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1-3:30 p.m.); Sunday, April 7 (10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.). Pick the date that suits you and join us! The Maurice River, a federally designated "Wild and Scenic River," attracts one of the largest concentrations of wintering Bald Eagles in the state and hosts three nesting pairs. We sail right by one of the nests and by late March their nesting season is well along, eggs are due to hatch. Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register.

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!

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 http://www.njaudubon.org http://www.CapeMayTimes.com

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