Cape May Natural History Hotline - 3/23/2006

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 23. 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 how you can help (1) Halt the Harvest & Save the Red Knot from Extinction and (2) with the Annual Beach Nesting Bird Fencing Days

Signs of winter continued this past week with temperatures in the 30s. Despite this Daffodils are blooming and Flowering Quince (Japonica) is nearly in bloom.

CMBOs Poor Mans Pelagic on March 18 delighted in close looks at N. GANNETS, GREAT CORMORANT (Lewes Terminal), the spring gathering of RED-THROATED LOONS (83 counted), hundreds of BLACK and SURF SCOTER, a few LAUGHING GULLS and BONAPARTES GULLS, and 2 HARBOR PORPOISES near the Delaware side of the Bay. The show continues. On March 23, 417 N. GANNETS passed by St. Marys at Cape May Point in 5 minutes, while 200 + BONAPARTES GULLS and 25+ LAUGHING GULLS entertained at the Ferry Terminal. The first crossing of the day aboard the Ferry is a good bet for the next few weeks or more. Huge numbers of RED-THROATED LOONS gather and feed at the mouth of the Delaware Bay each spring. Add to this the fact that by mid-April Common Loons will be coming into breeding plumage just before they migrate further north. CMBOs Cruisin For Loons on Saturday, April 22 (1-5:30 p.m.) is timed for a stellar loon adventure, with 10 spaces left. Call 609-861-0700, x-16 to register or for more information.

CMBOs Birding Cumberland trip explored the Cohansey River on March 19. Bald Eagles were everywhere, including a spectacular white- speckled immature at Percy Blew Road. At the end of Bayside Road an adult perched on the very edge of the Delaware Bay while its mate perched atop their nest in the distance. Several new BALD EAGLE nests have been found this spring with a total of 56 pairs nesting in NJ. The first eaglets hatched March 8, while eggs hatched at 5 other nests between March 10th and 14th. Sadly, the nest at Beaver Swamp WMA, just north of the CMBO Center in Goshen, has failed. Both adults have been off the nest since about March 17.

While adult BALD EAGLES are busy with nests, immatures are wandering. 6 immatures were at Berrytown Road in Cumberland County on March 23. 2 immatures and 3 adults were enjoyed during the Sunday Morning at Turkey Point Walk on March 19. The final walk will be Sunday, March 26 (8 to 10 a.m.), meeting at the end of Turkey Point Road.

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS are returning. 15 were roosting at the pond along Reeds Beach Road on March 18; by March 22 there were 30.

SNOW GEESE pretty much cleared out about 3 weeks ago, but 200-300 can still be found at Hansey Creek. RIVER OTTERS were seen in the creek under the bridge at the end of Hansey Creek Road this week. Bivalve held over 2,000 GREEN-WINGED TEAL on March 16. HARLEQUIN DUCKS (2 males and 2 females) were enjoyed at the 8th Street Jetty in Avalon on March 22.

The final Nightfall at Jakes Landing on March 19 enjoyed a SHORT- EARED OWL, 5-6 CLAPPER RAIL, and a calling GREAT HORNED OWL. The final Nightfall at Corbin City Impoundments will be on Sunday, March 26, meeting at 5 p.m. on Griscom Mill Rd. (off Rt. 50) in the Corbin City Hall parking lot.

WILSONS SNIPE are on the move. 13-14 were flushed during a stroll through the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge (or The Meadows) on March 21. An AMERICAN BITTERN was seen in The Meadows on March 20 and a LEAST BITTERN on March 22. Friday, March 24 and 31 (5 p.m.-dusk), Winter Evenings at The Meadows meets in TNCs parking lot on Sunset Boulevard. Birding With Pete Dunne, every Monday morning (7:30-9:30 a.m.), begins March 27.

SEASIDE SPARROWS began singing on March 22 at Turkey Point. PINE WARBLERS are back and being reported on warm days, but not one was heard during the cold weather on March 19 along the Cohansey River during CMBOs Birding Cumberland trip. PHOEBE are back and, during this cold stretch, eking out a living in sheltered, sunny spots. OSPREY are back, but easily missed too. Not one was seen on the Cohansey River on March 19. PIPING PLOVER are returning. One on the beach at The Meadows on March 16 and one at Barnegat Light on March 18.

Get a jump on spring and join Mark Garland, naturalist extraordinaire, on a Weekend Field Trip to Chincoteague, Saturday and Sunday, April 8- 9. This trip will explore Chincoteague NWR (in Virginia at the southern end of Assateague Island), Shad Landing State Park, and the Ocean City inlet (in Maryland). 10 spaces left. Call 609-861-0700, x-16 to register.

PURPLE MARTINS are all over, to the south of us. The first NJ Purple Martin was spotted in Hammonton last week. Monitor their progress north at http://purplemartin.org/scoutreport

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS are all over the south: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. Go to the following site to watch them move north: http://hummingbirds.net/map.html Its just a matter of time before they make their way to NJ, often around the middle of April. To learn how to attract hummingbirds, butterflies, Purple Martins, and more, consider signing up for CMBOs 6-week class, Wildlife Garden Naturalist Training, taught by longtime wildlife habitat gardener Pat Sutton and held every Thursday evening (6-8 p.m.), April 6 to May 18 (except April 20). Call 609-861-0700, x-16 to register or for more information.

Enjoy spring by joining the experts, those who are out every day. Attend one of CMBOs daily SPRING walks (requiring no preregistration ). Beginning March 31, there are 1-2 of bird walks every day of the week. Over the course of a week these walks cover the very best hotspots. For details go to: http://www.njaudubon.org Calendar/calcmbo.html

If youd like to help the NJ Fish and Wildlifes 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

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

The CMBO Art Gallerys spring show, Wings and Migration, 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!

CMBOs Spring Programs are now in print (Spring Kestrel Express stop by either CMBO Center and pick up a copy) and posted on NJ Audubons 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.

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

CMBOs Gardens in Goshen need to be prepared for spring. Join us for the final 2 Garden Cleanup sessions: (1) Fridays and Saturdays, March 24, 25 (9 a.m. to noon). Lunch provided! Call with dates youd like to help: (609) 861-0700, x-11.

Driving Tour of Giant Trees in southern Cape May County 60 (100 to 300-year-old) trees, including 28 different species on Saturday, April 8 (10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) with Lyman Hoffman and Pat Sutton. **

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 Trusts newest preserves. 9 spaces left. **

As part of CMBOs 2006 Cape May Birding Workshops Michael OBrien will teach a 2-Day Birding by Ear Workshop, Thursday and Friday, May 4-5, 2006. 8 spaces left! Louise Zemaitis & Michael OBrien will teach a 2nd 2-Day Warbler Workshop, Monday and Tuesday, May 8-9, since the first is FULL. Mark Garland will teach a 2nd 3-Day Spring Migration Workshop, Tuesday through Thursday, May 16-18, since the first is FULL. Both have room! To register, call 609-861-0700, x-11. To learn more about these 2006 Cape May Birding Workshops go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks06.html

NJ Audubons 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

CMBOs 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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