CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY AND EVENTS HOTLINE, March 18, 2005
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 Friday, March 18. For bird news call the Cape May
Birding Hotline at (609) 898-2473. NJ Audubon's three hotlines can be read
in full on our website (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on "Sightings" (top
of any page).
As spring approaches and we get the itch to work in the soil some might be
interested in the many learning opportunities for wildlife gardeners offered
throughout the state by NJ Audubon Society and shared on the website at:
Details of CMBO's "Wildlife Garden Naturalist Training" (every Thursday
evening, April 7 to May 19, except April 21) and the "Annual Plant Swap and
Native Plant Sale" (Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) can be found
there. Go to the "Plants for Sale" page too.
A special driving tour of some of "Cape May County's Biggest Trees" from
Goshen to Cape May Point will be led by Lyman Hoffman, author of Giants
Among Us, and fellow tree lover Pat Sutton on Saturday, April 9 (10 a.m.
to 3:30 p.m.). To register, call 609-861-0700, x-11.
RED-THROATED LOON numbers are building and can be enjoyed from the Concrete
Ship or any of the jetties in Cape May Point. 135 were counted on March 12
from St. Mary's jetty in Cape May Point. Each winter and early spring, they
stage here before migrating north. The birds move around with the tide, so
if you do not see many, go back at a different tide. CMBO's first Loon
Cruise on March 16 filled, so a 2nd "Cruisin'
for Loons" trip is scheduled for Sunday, March 17 (9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.).
These trips are timed to drink in the gathering of Red-throated Loons in
Delaware Bay, plus COMMON LOONS in full breeding plumage (just before they
migrate north). If you have a chance to scope COMMON LOONS now where they're
feeding, watch as they feast on crabs (one after the next). To register for
the NEW March 17 Loon Cruise call 609-861-0700, x-11.
CMBO's March 26 "Birding From the Ferry" trip (7 to 11 a.m.) should be peak
time to savor N. Gannets close to land and so many other migrants.
To register, call 609-861-0700, x-11.
CMBO's 2005 Cape May Birding Workshops (15 different offerings) are timed to
learn and savor peak concentrations. Two session of the "Spring Migration
Workshop" have filled with waiting lists for both. The first "Warbler
Workshop" has filled, and a second has been scheduled for May 9 & 10 (Monday
& Tuesday) with Louise Zemaitis and Michael O'Brien.
Registrations are being taken now. To receive the workshop brochure call
609-861-0700 or go to:
When it's time, IT IS TIME! Despite temperatures of 26 degrees, AMERICAN
WOODCOCK were "peenting" and displaying at 5:20 a.m. this morning, March 18.
They can also be heard at dusk, about 6:30 p.m. on most warm nights where
the habitat is right. Three opportunities to experience this short-lived
spring display are (1) the Sunday evening, March 20, "Nightfall at Jakes
Landing" walk, 4 p.m. till dusk, (2) the Friday, March 18 & 25, "Winter
Evening at the Meadows" walk, meeting at 4:30 p.m. in the TNC parking lot on
Sunset Boulevard, and (3) the Saturday, March 26 & April 2 (5:30-7:30 p.m.)
"Twilight at Higbee Beach" walk with Mark Garland, meeting in the parking
lot at the west end of New England Road. VIRGINIA RAILS (calling and being
seen) are another treat at The Meadows (at least 3 on March 12 at dusk).
This time of year is such an odd mix of wintering birds still here and
breeding birds arriving. 5 OSPREY, including one bird carrying nesting
material, were along the Great Egg Harbor River on March 16. GREAT EGRETS
are arriving. The first PINE WARBLER was heard from a backyard in Millville
on March 11. KILLDEER numbers continue to grow; 80 were sitting on a flooded
marsh at Bivalve on March 10. FISH CROWS returned in numbers this week. TREE
SWALLOWS were inspecting nest boxes at Hidden Valley on March 11. Be on the
lookout for large flocks of WILD TURKEYS.
25 were on Rt. 83 near Dennisville on March 10. Large flocks of calling
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS singing "konk-a-ree" are almost deafening now.
Newly arrived PIPING PLOVER were at Stone Harbor Point on March 12.
A call for volunteers to help with fencing to protect beach nesting birds
(Piping Plovers, Least Terns, and Black Skimmers) on Saturday, March 26th
(Cape May Point State Park colony), Saturday, April 2nd (Stone Harbor Point
colony), and Saturday, April 16th (Barnegat Lighthouse State Park) can be
found at the end of this hotline.
SHORT-EARED OWLS continue at wintering sites. Jakes Landing (1 on March 10),
Tuckahoe & Corbin City WMA (2 on March 16), Newport Landing in Cumberland
Co. (1 close at dusk on March 16). A migrant SHORT-EARED OWL hunted The
Meadows behind the dune the evening of March 12. 2 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS were
still at Corbin City & Tuckahoe WMA on March 16.
Waterfowl numbers continue to build. 580 N. PINTAIL, 860 GREEN-WINGED TEAL,
1,115 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 29 TUNDRA SWANS, and 3 male EURASIAN
GREEN-WINGED TEAL were at Tuckahoe and Corbin City WMA on March 16. The
flock of CANVASBACKS that winters in the Maurice River and can be seen from
the HEISLERVILLE WMA, south of the dike, grew to 44 birds on March 10. At
Barnegat Light on March 13, 35 HARLEQUIN DUCKS were very frisky and amorous,
calling a rubber ducky-like squeak, along with all 3 scoters, and a first
year RAZORBILL. A super added bonus was the surfacing of a very close
HUMPBACK WHALE, only about 200 meters from shore.
An amazing 48 pairs of BALD EAGLES are on territory in NJ this spring!
38 pairs are incubating eggs. The earliest incubation was January 29, while
other pairs just laid in early March. The first young eagles hatched March 7
(from the January 29 incubation). CMBO's "Birding
Cumberland: Cohansey River Exploration" on March 12 was very raptor-rich,
with 33 BALD EAGLES seen (including 11 immatures, and 9 of the adults on
active nests), 6 GREAT HORNED OWL nests were discovered in deciduous trees,
41 RED-TAILED HAWKS were seen (including several doing their courtship
"roller coaster" flight), and 320 CANVASBACKS were enjoyed in the Delaware
River from Bayside.
A pair of BALD EAGLES is nesting at Beaver Swamp WMA, just up Sluice Creek
from CMBO's Center in Goshen. They began incubating on March 5.
Pat Sutton is the official volunteer nest observer at Beaver Swamp WMA.
Please report any sightings of this pair to her at 609-861-0700, x16.
A PAINTED TURTLE was sunbathing at Hidden Valley on March 12. WOOD FROGS
were calling, sounding like distant ducks quacking, on March 12 at Dix WMA
along the south side of the Cohansey River. On March 16, LEOPARD FROGS were
calling near marsh habitats and WOOD FROGS from woodland pools along the
Great Egg Harbor River, where sunning SPOTTED TURTLE and PAINTED TURTLE were
also seen. On March 12, a HARBOR SEAL was sunbathing on the edge of Nummy's
Island, while another was at the fish docks on Ocean Drive just north of
Cape May. On March 16, an unidentified young SEAL was seen (face only: white
with distinct black spots) in Great Egg Harbor Bay from Kennedy Park in
The first SPRING AZURE was seen on March 11, a warm day, but icy cold
weather since then certainly did in this spring emergent. A QUESTION MARK
was seen March 11 in the Cape May Point State Park, where it had no doubt
wintered over in a hollow tree. A MORNING CLOAK flushed from a wood pile on
March 12, when the wood pile was disturbed. In Goshen on March 16 there were
still a few pockets of snow on the ground in shady areas.
Despite the continued wintery weather Purple Martins continue to move north.
On March 15 an adult scout was seen as close as Maryland. To monitor their
movement north go to the Purple Martin Conservation Organization's excellent
site and click on "Martins Are Back":
Over sixty Ruby-throated Hummingbird sightings have come in from the Gulf
Coast states, including one bird on March 17 in the middle of Georgia. Our
hummingbirds winter between southern Mexico and northern Panama. To monitor
their journey north and know just when to put your hummingbird feeders out,
go to the following site and click on the migration map:
The ultimate spring experience is New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May
Spring Weekend (May 20-22, 2005). The brochure is now available (call for a
copy) and a downloadable pdf version is available on the website:
Once you've read over the brochure, direct any questions to Sheila Lego or
Marleen Murgitroyde at 609-884-2736.
Enjoy early spring birding by attending upcoming CMBO programs:
Weekly walks (no advanced registration, $6 members, $10 for others):
. Friday: March 18 & 25 (4:30 p.m. to dusk), "Winter Evenings at the
Meadows" meets at 4:30 p.m. in TNC's parking lot on Sunset Boulevard.
. Saturday: March 19 & 26 (8-10 a.m.), "Birding Cape May Point" meets at
8 a.m. in the "South Shelter" raised pavilion at the Cape May Point State
. Saturday, March 26 & April 2 (5:30-7:30 p.m.) "Twilight at Higbee Beach"
meets at 5:30 p.m. in the parking lot at the west end of New England Road.
. Sunday: March 20 (8-10 a.m.), "Sunday Morning at Turkey Point" meets at 8
a.m. at the end of Turkey Point Road in Cumberland County (reached from Rt.
553 south of the town of Dividing Creek).
. Sunday, March 20 (4 p.m. to dusk), "Nightfall at Jakes Landing" meets at
the end of Jakes Landing Road, near Dennisville.
. Sunday, March 20 (1 to 2:30 p.m.), "Birding for First Timers" meets at the
North Shelter in the Cape May Point State Park.
. Monday, March 28 (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Birding With Pete Dunne" meets at 7:30
a.m. in TNC's parking lot on Sunset Boulevard.
. Wednesday, March 30 (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Birding Cape May Point" meets at
7:30 a.m. in the "South Shelter" raised pavilion at the Cape May Point State
Special programs and field trips in addition to those already mentioned
follow (prices vary: call 609-861-0700 for info and to register):
. CMBO's 10th ANNUAL OPTICS SALE for CMBO or NJ Audubon members ONLY (become
a member today to take advantage of the great deals!) - Saturday & Sunday,
March 19-20 (9-4:30 p.m.) . Birding 101, Saturday, April 16 (10:30 a.m. to 4
p.m.) with Mark Garland.
. Weekend Field Trip to Chincoteague, April 23-24, with Mark Garland.
. Introduction to Spring Wildflower ID, Sunday, May 1 (10 a.m. to 3
p.m.) with Mark Garland
. Hessel's Hairstreak field trip, Sat., May 7 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) with Pat
Sutton & Rick Radis . Listening to the Night, Monday, May 9 (9 to 11 p.m.)
with Mark Garland and Chris Vogel
Many other programs are scheduled for 2005; contact either CMBO Center for a
copy of the spring Kestrel Express, which features the schedule, or go to:
NJ's Fish and Wildlife's Endangered and Nongame Species Program is looking
for volunteers to assist with the Annual Fencing Days to protect endangered
beach nesting birds (Piping Plovers, Least Terns and Black Skimmers. Each
fencing date only requires a few hours of mildly strenuous work (pounding
posts, placing rope and signage). Fencing dates this year include: (1) Sat.,
March 26th at 10am at Cape May Point State Park, (2) Sat., April 2nd at 10am
at Stone Harbor Point, and (3) Sat., April 16th at Barnegat Lighthouse State
Park. Contact Christina Kisiel,
609.628.2103 or email@example.com, for questions and to register.
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. To receive a copy of
the Spring Program Schedule (the Kestrel Express), stop at either CMBO
Center, call the office during business hours at 609-861-0700, or go to New
Jersey Audubon's web site at 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!