Cape May Natural History Hotline - 3/25/2005

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 Thursday, March 24. 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).

Red Knot need all the help they can get this spring. Numbers on the wintering grounds were frighteningly low, even lower than last year's low numbers. The NJ Endangered & Nongame Species program welcomes volunteer SHOREBIRD STEWARDS on NJ's Delaware Bay beaches May 14-15 and May 21 to June 5. Training session in early May (TBA). Contact Larissa Smith (609-628-2103 or LLSmith@gtc3.com) for more details and to sign up.

It's a fun time of year as our wintering birds begin to get their breeding plumage before migrating north. Treat yourself to the HORNED GREBES in Sunset Lake in Wildwood Crest (27 there on March 17), including a few in delicious breeding plumage. GREAT CORMORANT are sporting their breeding plumage, a white hip patch and a very white throat. One of their favorite perch sites is the Concrete Ship. Take a close look at DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT now too to see their breeding plumage double crests, plumes, or horns on the top of their head. RED-THROATED LOON numbers continue to build. Each winter and early spring they stage at the mouth of the Delaware Bay before migrating north. The Concrete Ship is an excellent vantage point, but they move around with the tide, so if you do not see many, go back at a different tide. CMBO's first Loon Cruise on April 16 filled, so a 2nd "Cruisin' for Loons" trip is scheduled for Sunday, April 17 (9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.). This cruise is timed to drink in the Red-throated Loon gathering in Delaware Bay, plus COMMON LOONS in full breeding plumage (just before they migrate north). To register for the April 17 Loon Cruise call 609-861-0700, x-11.

Gorgeous N. GANNETS are migrating through now! Close encounters should be enjoyed during CMBO's March 26 "Birding From the Ferry" trip (7 to 11 a.m.). There are still spaces; call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register.

As days lengthen, AMERICAN WOODCOCK are "peenting" later and later. On March 21 they were calling at 6:30 p.m. in Goshen; they can also be heard at dawn, @ 5:20 a.m. If you've never witnessed this amorous aerial display, be sure to attend: (1) the Friday, March 25, "Winter Evening at the Meadows" walk, meeting at 4:30 p.m. in the TNC parking lot on Sunset Boulevard, and (2) the Saturday, March 26 (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.

SHORT-EARED OWLS are still hunting their favored winter marshes; 3 were at Corbin City on March 19 and 20, between 5 and 6:15 p.m. An amazing 50 pairs of BALD EAGLES are on territory in NJ this spring! Young have hatched at 6 nests; the first eaglets hatched on March 7 from eggs laid very early on January 29). Another 34 pairs are incubating eggs. Remaining pairs are at sites impossible to monitor. On March 2 the Manasquan Reservoir nest failed; the female was found dead in the nest. The NJ Endangered & Nongame Species Program shared this week that she died from egg peritonitis, probably while trying to lay a third egg (so definitely not linked in any way to environmental conditions). 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 sprinkling of PINE WARBLER reports came in from Millville (March 12), Goshen (March 18), and Cape May Court House (March 20). One was feeding on suet in the heavy rains on March 20. An OSPREY, sitting on the nest at Jakes Landing Road on March 22, patiently awaiting its mate. Clusters of GREAT EGRETS were on the marsh at high tide March 24. E. MEADOWLARKS are singing at Jakes Landing (March 22). A din of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS can be heard just about anywhere.

The warm weather awakened sleeping critters this week. MOURNING CLOAK (butterflies) were reported from a number of locations on March 18 & 22. An EASTERN COMMA was seen May 22 in Mays Landing. A din of WOOD FROGS and some SPRING PEEPERS called March 22 along Jakes Landing Road, while WOOD FROGS and a CHORUS FROG called from Beaver Swamp WMA. The spring's first TIGER BEETLE and FENCE LIZARD were seen March 22.

March 20-24, three Purple Martins were seen in Pennsylvania, just around the corner! To monitor their movement north go to the Purple Martin Conservation Organization's excellent site and click on "Martins Are Back": http://www.purplemartin.org/scoutreport/2005/index.php

Four Ruby-throated Hummingbird sightings have come in from North Carolina and sightings are thick throughout Louisiana and across Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. 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: http://www.hummingbirds.net/map.html

As spring approaches, be sure to explore the many learning opportunities for wildlife gardeners throughout the state offered by NJ Audubon Society's 9 centers and shared on our website. If you're itching to put in a butterfly & hummingbird garden or add to one, also visit this site for the just updated "How to Create a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden" and the accompanying list of "Recommended Plantings for Hummingbirds, Butterflies, and Moths" (noting whether plants are "Native to NJ, "Native to North America (but not NJ)," or "Alien" at: http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat Details of CMBO's "Wildlife Garden Naturalist Training" (every Thursday evening, April 7 to May 19, except April 21) and CMBO "Annual Plant Swap and Native Plant Sale" (Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) can be found here. Be sure to go to the "Plants for Sale" page too.

A special driving tour on Saturday, April 9 (10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.), of 50 giant trees between Goshen and Cape May Point still has a few places open. To register for "Giants Among Us: Cape May County's Biggest Trees," 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 sessions of the "Spring Migration Workshop" have filled with waiting lists for each. 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: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks05.html

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: http://www.njaudubon.org/Centers/CMBO/SpringWeekend.html 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. This week marks the change over from many of our winter walks to spring walks; the listing below gives you a sneak preview of walks beginning the following week too:

Weekly walks (no advanced registration, $6 members, $10 for others): . Friday: March 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 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 Park. . 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. . EASTER SUNDAY - no walks . Monday, March 28 (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Birding With Pete Dunne (though Pete will be out of town)" 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 Park. . Friday, April 1 (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Higbee Beach Bird Walk" meets at 7:30 a.m. in the parking lot at the west end of New England Road. . Saturday, April 2 (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Spring Migrants at the Rea Farm" meets at 7:30 a.m. in the Beanery parking lot on Bayshore Road. . Sunday, April 3 (7-9 a.m.), "Birding at Stone Harbor Point," meets in the Stone Harbor Point Parking Lot. . Sunday, April 3 (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Hidden Valley for Birds & Butterflies" meets in the small clamshell parking lot on the south side of New England Road, 0.3 miles west of the intersection with Bayshore Road. . Sunday, April 3 (1 to 2:30 p.m.), "Birding for First Timers" meets at the North Shelter in the Cape May Point State Park. . Monday, April 4 (5 to 7 p.m.), "Evening at Jakes Landing" meets at the end of Jakes Landing Road.

Special programs and field trips in addition to those already mentioned follow (prices vary: call 609-861-0700 for info and to register): . 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: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

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!

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