CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY AND EVENTS HOTLINE, March 25, 2004
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
message was prepared Thursday, March 25. 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 web site (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on
"Sightings" at the top of any page.
It's late March and the seasons are mixing -- winter birds are still
here, some in growing numbers before they migrate north, and spring
OSPREY are back, including the pair along Jakes Landing Road. 34 were
counted on the Maurice River on March 23. N. HARRIER are "sky dancing,"
one of the most elaborate display flights of all the raptors where the
male flies up and then dives, repeatedly, in a roller-coaster pattern.
On March 23 at 9:00 a.m., one was sky dancing over the Delaware Bay
marshes beyond Heislerville WMA. RED-TAILED HAWKS are courting now too
and performing spectacular aerial displays. 50 were counted on the
Maurice River on March 23.
37 pairs of BALD EAGLES in New Jersey are actively nesting now. As of
March 18, young have hatched in 4 of these nests, including the Maurice
River nest that CMBO's "Bald Eagle Cruises" sail by. CMBO's 1:00 p.m.
trip on March 20 confirmed that young had hatched -- the adult tending
the nest was seen tearing food apart and appearing to feed young hidden
down in the nest! 12 Bald Eagles (9 adults and 3 immatures), plus an
immature GOLDEN EAGLE, were seen on the Maurice River on March 23. Many
of the trips are full, but a tentative "Bald Eagle Cruise on the Maurice
River" trip has been added for Saturday, April 10, at 10 a.m. (the day
before Easter). If interested, call 609-861-0700, x-11. A new Bald
Eagle nest (built in late December) is visible from the parking lot and
dike at Beaver Swamp WMA, just north of the CMBO Center in Goshen. This
pair began incubating March 14 and the incubating bird is so low in the
nest that most of the time it is impossible to see. On March 21, the
"Sunday Morning at Turkey Point" walk (which meets every Sunday at 8:00
a.m. at the end of Turkey Point Road in Cumberland County)
enjoyed BALD EAGLES (including one nesting pair), E. PHOEBE, TREE
SWALLOWS, and calling PINE WARBLERS..
GREAT HORNED OWLS have growing young, they being the earliest nesting
birds (one pair began using an abandoned Bald Eagle's nest on February
10). Adult Great Horneds can be heard hooting softly and briefly at
dusk and pre-dawn. Listen! Maybe they are nesting in your woods.
PIPING PLOVER have returned to their favorite beaches. 2 were seen from
2nd Avenue at The Meadows in the cove. AMERICAN WOODCOCK have been
displaying since early February, each evening just as the sky darkens
and also pre dawn. Three continue to be heard in an overgrown field
during "Nightfall at Jakes Landing" with Karen Johnson, which next meets
at 4:30 p.m. in the parking lot at the end of Jakes Landing Road on
Sunday, March 28.
FORSTER'S TERNS are here in fair numbers now. 25 were counted on March
19. They arrive far earlier than Common Terns each spring.
Herons and egrets are filtering in. 25 SNOWY EGRETS and 2 GREAT EGRETS
were counted along the Maurice River on March 23. Flocks of
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS were seen March 21 (7 birds at Jakes Landing)
and March 24 (4 birds north of the Rea Farm). A LITTLE BLUE HERON was
seen March 22 in Cape Island Creek.
SANDHILL CRANES have nested in Cumberland County since 1995 (page 87 in
the newly published "Birding Cumberland, A Birder's Guide to Cumberland
County, NJ," by Clay Sutton -- available for sale at CMBO. For years
their nesting sites were deep within private property and unknown to
birders. This spring 5 birds have been seen regularly at Bostwick Lake
(on the border of Cumberland and Salem Counties), which is visible from
Route 640. The 5 birds, including 2 pairs and a loner, are being seen
to the right in the phragmites area. If you have luck, be sure to give
us a call with details (609-861-0700).
PHOEBE are still arriving, others have settled in to former breeding
sites. One was a fly-through in a backyard in Goshen on March 24. PINE
WARBLERS are singing softly in Belleplain State Forest and elsewhere;
drive with your windows rolled down to find them! On March 23 in
Belleplain State Forest, both a BROWN CREEPER was calling (a very high
call) and a WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH was giving its nasal quiet song. A
HERMIT THRUSH was heard singing March 20 in Belleplain; treat yourself
to this song since they will soon head north and be replaced by our
breeding thrush, the Wood Thrush. Be sure to attend walks with the CMBO
leaders who know Belleplain intimately. Beginning April 1, every
Thursday and every Saturday "Birds of Belleplain State Forest"
(7:30-9:30 a.m.) meets at the Belleplain State Forest Field Office, just
off Route 550 west of Woodbine. Every Monday (beginning April 5), "Back
Trails of Belleplain" (7:30-10:30 a.m.) meets at the same location.
Two very special workshops will feature the best of spring at Cape May:
(1) 2-Day Bullet Workshop: WARBLERS on May 8-9 (Saturday & Sunday), and
(2) 3-day Bullet Workshop: SPRING MIGRATION on May 18-20 (Tuesday thru
Thursday). Spaces are filling quickly; see the abbreviated write-up in
CMBO's Spring Kestrel Express for price and details. Call 609-861-0700,
x-11, to receive the "2004 Cape May Birding Workshop" brochure with full
NJ Audubon's incredible 3-day Cape May Spring Weekend will be held May
21-23. To learn more & download a registration form, go to NJ Audubon's
web site at:
Waterfowl numbers are still strong, but many will soon migrate north to
their breeding grounds. On March 23, the Maurice River held 750 AM.
BLACK DUCKS, 350 MALLARD, 512 N. PINTAIL, 1,800 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, a
male EURASIAN COMMON TEAL on Robbinstown Road (annual on the Maurice
River for a number of years), 26 CANVASBACK, 175 RING-NECKED DUCK, 40
BUFFLEHEAD, and 19 RED-BREASTED MERGANSER. St. Mary's Jetty in Cape May
Point continues to attract HARLEQUIN DUCK (a male and a female on March
21). Clouds of SNOW GEESE were flushed by a Bald Eagle on March 21
during the Jakes Landing walk. On March 19, 170 CANVASBACKS and a male
EURASIAN WIGEON were seen at Brigantine NWR, along with 2 GREAT
SHORT-EARED OWLS winter here and will soon be gone. One continues to be
seen during the Jakes Landing Walk and was last seen March 21 as it
hunted high in the wind (a treat since they're often scarce in windy
conditions). On March 19 one was seen hunting the marshes at Brigantine
NWR at the East Pool.
The big story is STILL the amazing concentration of 100,000-200,000 sea
ducks or scoters at the mouth of the Delaware Bay. If you haven't yet
treated yourself, GO SEE IT and HEAR it! The close-to-shore flocks of
BLACK SCOTERS are very vocal -- whistled "cree"calls. SURF SCOTER and
more BLACK SCOTER are further offshore. The entire horizon is solid
scoter in a state of flux ... as tides carry flocks out the Delaware Bay
and into the ocean, they leap frog (fly) back into the mouth of the
Delaware Bay. The entire population of North American Black Scoter is
thought to be about 500,000, so probably the entire Atlantic population
is here now! " Birding Cape May Point" meets Saturday, March 27, at
8:00 a.m. and every Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. in the "South Shelter" raised
pavilion at the Cape May Point State Park -- a great way to witness some
of these goodies! Friday, March 26, the final "Winter Evening at the
Meadows" meets at 4:30 p.m. in The Nature Conservancy's parking lot on
Sunset Boulevard to enjoy woodcock displaying, snipe on the move,
Virginia Rails calling and other signs of spring.
RED-THROATED LOONS gather at the mouth of the Delaware Bay each spring.
This phenomenon has begun and their numbers will continue to grow as
they stage here. Consider signing up for "Cruisin' For Loons" on
Sunday, April 25 (9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.), when numbers of Red-throateds
will be peaking and when Common Loons in the back bays will be coming
into full breeding plumage (call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register).
Daffodils are blooming; lilac is budding. Red Maples are flowering and
drawing in hungry butterflies, being the only nectar available in early
spring. When temperatures climb to 55 degrees F. or higher, expect
butterflies! SPRING AZURE (1st seen March 15), MOURNING CLOAKS,
QUESTION MARKS, E. COMMA, and SULPHURS (March 24) have all been seen on
warm days. Frogs are calling, turtles and snakes are sunning.
To learn of the Monarchs' migration north, go to Journey North's very
educational site at:
On the Journey North site you will learn that MONARCHS are on the move
-- Dr. Bill Calvert reports from Mexico on March 19: "The butterfly
colonies are definitely vacating, that's clear," said Calvert. Monarchs
were pouring out of the arroyos at the base of the mountains. Where
there were tens of millions of butterflies only last week, dense
clusters were scarce this week. "It's very puzzling, though, because we
haven't seen the flood of butterflies that typically fill the skies in
Angangueo. Perhaps because it was unseasonably cold this past week --
the coldest of the 5 weeks I've been here. But the colonies are
definitely breaking up, and the butterflies have to be going somewhere!"
Another excellent site is Monarch Watch:
The warm temperatures are getting many of us out into our gardens.
Consider helping CMBO get the wildlife gardens at the Center in Goshen
(600 Route 47 North) ready for spring and summer on Saturday, April 3,
at the "Garden Preparation" morning (9:00 a.m. to Noon). Call
609-861-0700, x-11, to sign up -- lunch provided. You can also help any
Friday (beginning April 2) by joining Karen Williams for the weekly
"Garden Maintenance Workshops," 9:30 a.m.-Noon (requiring no
preregistration). Beginning April 2, Karen Williams will also be
available for "Wildlife Garden Advice" every Friday (from 1:00 to 4:00
p.m.) to assist with plant purchases and general wildlife garden
questions. April 17, CMBO will teach a day of "Backyard Habitat
Mini-Workshops." Sign up for all 3 one-hour workshops (Butterfly &
Hummingbird Gardens, Basics of Backyard Habitat, and Designing a
Wildlife Habitat) or just one or two. Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to
register or learn more!
Additional walks (requiring no preregistration) that will help you savor
spring unfolding include: Every Sunday, "Birding for First Timers"
(1:00-3:00 p.m.) meets at the Wildlife Viewing Platform at the Cape May
Point State Park. Every Monday, "Mondays at The Meadows" (7:30-9:30
a.m.) meets at TNC's refuge parking lot on Sunset Boulevard. Every
Friday (beginning April 2), "Higbee Beach Bird Walk" (7:30-9:30 a.m.)
meets in the parking lot at the west end of New England Road. Every
Saturday (beginning April 3), "Spring Migrants at the Rea Farm"
(7:30-9:30 a.m.) meets in the parking lot on Bayshore Road. Every
Sunday (beginning April 4), "Hidden Valley for Birds & Butterflies"
(7:30-9:30 a.m.) meets in the small clamshell parking lot on the south
side of New England road, 0.3 miles past the intersection with Bayshore
Road. Every Tuesday (beginning April 6), "Spring at Two Mile Beach"
(7:30-9:30 a.m.) meets at the last parking area on the left in the
refuge, which lies to the east of Ocean Drive just south of Wildwood
CMBO will next teach the "Nikon School of Birding" April 23-25, Friday
through Sunday. This workshop is designed to help birders of all
experience levels build better birding skills. Call 609-861-0700 or
stop by either center to request the Nikon School of Birding brochure.
CMBO's complete listing of "2004 Cape May Birding Workshops" is now
posted on New Jersey Audubon's web site:
The Cape May Bird Observatory offers many, many other programs than
those briefly mentioned here. CMBO's SPRING Program Schedule can be
read in full at:
http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html and is available at
either center (or request a copy be sent; call 609-861-0700).
Adult Purple Martins will be here soon. At three different sites in
Maryland birds were seen on March 20 & 21. To learn more, go to the
Purple Martin Conservation Organization's site at:
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are coming too! They're surging north with
50 or so sightings in the Gulf States and one as far north as the middle
of N. Carolina. To learn more, go to:
CALLING ALL VOLUNTEERS!
Two dates are set to erect fencing for Beach Nesting Birds: (1) Saturday
April 17 at Barnegat Light (meet 10 a.m. at Barnegat Light State Park
parking lot) and (2) Sunday April 18 at Stone Harbor Point (meet 1 p.m.
at municipal parking lot at southern end of Stone Harbor Borough). Held
rain or shine, unless really nasty rain! Please RSVP to Todd Pover at
609-628-2103 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to help out. Directions
available from Todd if needed.
Want to help the Red Knots as they concentrate on our beaches along the
Delaware Bay this spring? Sign up as a Shorebird Steward (full details
on back page of CMBO's Spring Program schedule). A training session
will be held in early May and a stipend will be paid to those who
complete the training and work at least 3 days. Contact Larissa Smith
(609-628-2103) to apply or send a letter of interest (and resume if
available) to Larissa Smith, NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, 2201
Route 631, Woodbine, NJ 08270.
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 around Cape May County, and also
include reports from Cumberland and Atlantic Counties. Updates are
typically made on Thursdays. Natural history sightings can be written
on sighting sheets at either CMBO center or called in to 609-861-0700.
Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!