Cape May Natural History Hotline - 3/16/2006

This is Pat Sutton with the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This hotline was prepared on Thursday, March 16. New Jersey Audubon's three hotlines can be read in full on our website (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on "Sightings" (at the top of any page).

Please read to the end of this hotline to learn (1) how you can help Halt the Harvest & Save the Red Knot from Extinction, (2) and about all the fun special field trips coming up!

Signs of spring continue! May 9-13, when temperatures hovered in the 60s and 70s many, many reports came in. Suddenly lots of WOOD FROGS were heard calling their duck-like quacking. S. LEOPARD FROGS, SPRING PEEPERS, and CHORUS FROGS were also heard. On March 11, 11 PAINTED TURTLES sun bathed at the Rea Farm while 1,000s of REDBELLY TURTLES sunbathed at Mannington Marsh. 6 TIGER BEETLES (Cicindela tranquebarica) were out on March 14 along the Great Egg Harbor River. 2 CUCUMBER BEETLES were at the Rea Farm on March 11. And the butterflies! Well, reports came in of ORANGE SULPHURS, CLOUDED SULPHURS, E. COMMA, lots of MOURNING CLOAKS, and SPRING AZURES. While working in CMBO's Gardens in Goshen on March 11, at least 5 dashed through the property, moving fast. On March 15 a BLACK RAT SNAKE was sunning.

Also during the warm stretch on March 11, a HARBOR SEAL was seen on the Cold Spring Jetty and a small group of HARBOR PORPOISE were in the waters offshore.

Suddenly E. PHOEBE and OSPREY are back in their usual haunts, including an OSPREY on its nest at Jakes Landing on March 14. TREE SWALLOW flocks can be found, including 50 over Sapawana Meadows NWR on March 11. PINE WARBLERS are thick and singing. LAUGHING GULLS are becoming more numerous. Flocks of AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS are being seen. RED-TAILED HAWKS are on eggs. MARSH WRENS are in full song at a few spots. VIRGINIA RAILS are being heard (Corbin City on March 12, Jakes Landing on March 11). WILD TURKEYS are gobbling (in Goshen on March 12 at 6 a.m.) and displaying - 2-3 "Toms" were strutting for 12 hens on Hayleyville Road next to Bear Swamp on March 11. AMERICAN WOODCOCKS are still displaying like mad at last light at Woodcock Lane in the Cape May NWR and elsewhere (including behind the Northwood Center and around the CMBO Center in Goshen). BLUEBIRDS were checking out a nest box near the Rea Farm on March 11. GREAT CORMORANTS are around (Cold Spring Jetty on 3/11, Corbin City Impoundments on 3/14, 4 at Two Mile Beach Unit of Cape May NWR on 3/10) and in full breeding plumage with the white patch showing! A PURPLE MARTIN was spotted in Hammonton this week (http: purplemartin.org/scoutreport/).

The first PIPING PLOVER was seen March 16 on the beach at The Meadows. If you'd like to help the NJ Fish and Wildlife's Endangered and Nongame Species Program with their "Annual Beach Nesting Bird Fencing Days," contact Christina Kisiel, 609-628-1919 or ckisiel@gtc3.com. Each fencing date only requires a few hours of mildly strenuous work (pounding posts, placing rope and signage). Fencing will protect nesting habitat for Piping Plovers, Least Terns and Black Skimmers. Fencing dates follow: (1) Saturday, March 25th at 10am at Cape May Point State Park, (2) Saturday, April 1st at 10am at Stone Harbor Point, (3) Saturday, April 8th at 10am at Monmouth Beach, (4) Saturday, April 15th at 10am at Barnegat Light

Imagine savoring winter waterfowl and other goodies on a warm spring day! You can do that by visiting Barnegat Light where 47 HARLEQUIN DUCKS, 20+ COMMON EIDER, a MERLIN, and 3 RED KNOT were seen March 13. In the Delaware Bay from the end of Kimble's Beach 175+ RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS and 300+ SURF SCOTER were enjkoyed on March 12. Both the Tuckahoe WMA impoundments and those at the Corbin City Unit are packed with waterfowl: 2 BLUE-WINGED TEAL, GADWALL, AMERICAN WIDGEON, 17 N. SHOVELER, 180 N. PINTAIL, 900 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, and a male COMMON TEAL, RING-NECKED DUCK, HOODED and COMMON MERGANSERS, MUTE SWANS, and still some TUNDRA SWANS (5 on 3/14). Another waterfowl hotspot is Sunset Lake in Wildwood Crest and the Coast Guard Ponds on Ocean Drive where 100+ RED-BR. MERGS, 100 SCAUP, and dozens of HORNED GREBES were enjoyed on March 10.

A SHORT-EARED OWL was seen at Jakes Landing on March 11 at dusk!

Each spring RED-THROATED LOONS stage at the mouth of the Delaware Bay. Huge numbers gather and feed in these waters. Add to this the fact that by mid-April Common Loons will be coming into breeding plumage just before they migrate further north. Timed for a stellar loon adventure, is CMBO's "Cruisin' For Loons" on Saturday, April 22 (1-5:30 p.m.) with 16 spaces left. Call 609-861-0700, x-16 to register or for more information.

On March 11, 200 N. GANNETS (mostly adults) were seen during a Cape May Pelagic Trip. CMBO's "Poor Man's Pelagic" on Saturday, March 18 (7-11 a.m.) is timed perfectly to drink in the gannet movement, wintering Bonaparte Gulls, the scoter gathering, and whatever else is heading north across the Delaware Bay! There are a few space left!

CMBO's "Birding Cumberland" on Sunday, March 19 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) will explore the Cohansey River area at a time of year when BALD EAGLES and GREAT HORNED OWLS are on nests, OSPREY have just returned, and waterfowl are thick! 5 spaces remain!

Enjoy spring by joining the experts, those who are out every day. Attend one of CMBO's weekly SPRING walks (requiring no preregistration ): (1) Every Friday (5 p.m.-dusk), "Winter Evenings at The Meadows" meets in TNC's parking lot on Sunset Boulevard. (2) Every Saturday (8-10 a.m.) "Birding Cape May Point" meets at the Cape May Point State Park on the raised Picnic Pavilion. (3) Sunday, March 26, the "Nightfall at Corbin City Bird Walk" meets on Griscom Mill Rd. (off Rt. 50) in the Corbin City Hall parking lot at 5 p.m. (4) "Sunday Mornings at Turkey Point" meets every Sunday morning through March 26 (8 to 10 a.m.), meeting at the end of Turkey Point Road.

RED MAPLE TREES are budding! This is the only nectar available for spring's early butterflies. Forsythia is beginning to bloom with a hint of bright yellow. The first DAFFODILS have bloomed. FLOWERING QUINCE (or Joponica) is beginning to bloom. Hummingbirds aren't far behind. 50-60 sightings have occurred in the Gulf Coast States. They're working their way north through Georgia and one lone hummingbird has shown up in North Carolina. Go to the following site to watch them move north: http://hummingbirds.net/map.html

The CMBO Art Gallery's newest show, "Wings and Migration," just opened and will run through June 11. Stunning paintings of dragonflies, butterflies, and birds adorn the walls of the classroom. Stop by the CMBO Center in Goshen, open daily 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and be dazzled!

Halt the Harvest - Save the Red Knot from Extinction Your help is urgently needed to ensure the survival of Red Knot. Please take action by showing your strong support for NJ Department of Environmental Protection's proposed moratorium on the horseshoe crab commercial bait fishery for the calendar years 2006 and 2007. http://ga1.org/njaudubon/home.html

CMBO's Spring Programs are now in print (Spring Kestrel Express - stop by either CMBO Center and pick up a copy) and posted on NJ Audubon's website: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html A few of the upcoming programs are detailed below. ** Call 609-861-0700, x-11, for more information or to register for the following programs.

CMBO's 11th Annual Optics Sale will be Saturday and Sunday, March 18-19 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Brochures have been sent to members and can be downloaded on NJ Audubon's website. This sale is open to members of NJ Audubon and/or CMBO ONLY. If you are not a member, join today and take advantage of fabulous deals!

Pete Dunne's next "2-Day Bird Watching for Beginners Course" will be offered March 24-25. Friday evening's indoor session runs from 5-7 p.m, followed by an outing Saturday morning (8 a.m. to noon). **

CMBO's Gardens in Goshen need to be prepared for spring. Join us for one of the 5 "Garden Cleanup" sessions in March: (1) Fridays and Saturdays, March 24, 25 (9 a.m. to noon). Lunch provided! Call with dates you'd like to help: (609) 861-0700, x-11.

"Wildlife Garden Naturalist Training" will be held every Thursday evening (6-8 p.m.), April 6 to May 18 (except April 20). Train under longtime wildlife habitat gardener Pat Sutton & be certified to volunteer in CMBO's model backyard habitat gardens in Goshen. Sessions will cover ID of native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and weeds, butterfly & moth biology (life cycle), maintenance of a Purple Martin colony, Ruby-throated Hummingbird biology/needs, and wildlife garden maintenance with THE focus on wildlife! **

"Driving Tour of Cape May County's Giant Trees" (100 to 300-year-old trees in the southern part of the county)" on Saturday, April 8 (10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) with Lyman Hoffman and Pat Sutton. **

"Weekend Field Trip to Chincoteague With Mark Garland" on Saturday, April 8 and Sunday, April 9. 9 spaces left. **

"Swamp Pinks and Burden Hill" on Wednesday, April 12 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) with Steve Eisenhauer, assistant director of stewardship and land protection with the Natural Lands Trust, and Pat Sutton. Swamp Pink, a wild lily that is an endangered plant in NJ, will be in full bloom. Burden Hill, in Quinton Township, Salem County, is one of the Natural Lands Trust's newest preserves. 10 spaces left. **

As part of CMBO's 2006 Cape May Birding Workshops Michael O'Brien will teach a "2-Day Birding by Ear Workshop," Thursday and Friday, May 4-5, 2006. 9 spaces left! To register, call 609-861-0700, x-11. To learn more about this workshop or the 13 other "2006 Cape May Birding Workshops" go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks06.html

NJ Audubon's "Cape May Spring Weekend" is set for May 19-21, 2006. Brochures have been sent to members. To download a brochure, go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Centers/CMBO/SpringWeekend.html

CMBO's Northwood Center in Cape May Point and the Center for Research and Education on Route 47 in Goshen are both open daily (7 days a week) from 9-4:30.

The Cape May Bird Observatory offers an extensive series of regular bird walks that require no pre-registration and many special field trips and programs for which advanced registration is required. All are detailed in the Kestrel Express. To receive a copy of the Spring Kestrel Express (now through May) stop at either CMBO Center, call the office during business hours at 609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's web site: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

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 ornithological and natural history significance of Cape May. Your membership supports these goals and this hotline. We detail sightings from Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties. Updates are typically made on Thursdays. Please report your natural history sightings to CMBO's Center in Goshen at 609-861-0700. Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!

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