CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY AND EVENTS HOTLINE, March 3, 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 3. 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"
(at the top of any page). The CMBO Center in Goshen is again open seven
days/week. So both centers are now open daily 9-4:30.
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), and Saturday, April 2nd (Stone Harbor
Point colony), can be found at the end of this hotline.
Despite the frigid wintery weather of the last two weeks, birds are
responding to spring's approach. Purple Martins have moved north and are
already throughout eastern Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and as far north as
the middle of North Carolina! To monitor their movement north go to the
Purple Martin Conservation Organization's excellent site and click on
"Martins Are Back":
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds winter between southern Mexico and northern
Panama. They too are moving north with the first U.S. sighting "IN"
from Florida (February 20) and coastal Louisiana (February 19). 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:
Other returning birds include KILLDEER (some in a flooded frozen field along
the Maurice River on February 26) and WOOD DUCKS (2 at Bivalve on February
26 and 1 at Turkey Point on February 27). Spring is very much in the air,
despite the temperature! RED-TAILED HAWKS were doing their courtship flight,
a roller coaster display, on February 27 at Turkey Point. A COOPER'S HAWK
was performing its courtship flight along the Maurice River on February 26.
The noisy flocks of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS singing "konk-a-ree" are getting
larger and even more vocal with the coming of spring.
Displaying AMERICAN WOODCOCK have been quiet through the really cold
stretch, but if temperatures nudge up a bit, they will be "peenting"
again! Despite the cold, one was heard at 6 a.m. on March 1 in Eldora.
Since our "Woodcock Dance" is full, two other ongoing opportunities to
experience this short-lived spring display are the Sunday evening "Nightfall
at Jakes Landing" walk, every Sunday (4 p.m. till dusk) and the "Winter
Evenings at the Meadows" walk, every Friday (4:30 p.m. till dusk, meeting in
the TNC parking lot on Sunset Boulevard).
GREAT HORNED OWLS have been very quiet for the last month while on eggs.
Over 40 pairs of BALD EAGLES nest in New Jersey. Some pairs began incubating
last week. Other pairs are still working on their nests, mating, and being
very territorial, including the pair at Beaver Swamp WMA, just up Sluice
Creek from CMBO's Center in Goshen. The birds can often be gone for much of
the day but are at or near the nest each evening between 5 and 6 p.m. 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.
CMBO's "Nightfall at Jakes Landing" walk on February 27, held every Sunday
(4 p.m. to dusk) had a pair of mating adult BALD EAGLES, a close hunting
SHORT-EARED OWL, and will again hear AMERICAN WOODCOCK when temperatures
rise. This walk meets at the end of Jakes Landing Road, off Rt. 47, just 4
miles north of the CMBO Center in Goshen. CMBO's "Sunday Morning at Turkey
Point" walk on February 27, held every Sunday (8-10 a.m.), enjoyed 6 BALD
EAGLES, including the Maple Avenue Impoundment pair incubating eggs. The
wintering GOLDEN EAGLE was seen there on February 26.
SHORT-EARED OWLS continue to be savored at the Corbin City Unit of the
Tuckahoe WMA from 5:30 p.m. until full dark. The Corbin City Unit is reached
from Rt. 50, north of the Tuckahoe River. Turn right on Griscom Mill Road
and right again past the houses to reach the driving dike between freshwater
impoundments and tidal saltmarsh. The best concentration of Short-eared Owl
activity has been where the driving dike reaches the first impoundment on
the left and a creek goes off through the saltmarsh on the right. The birds
perch on the many old fence posts in the marsh and hunt the marsh around and
Waterfowl is on the move. A survey of the Maurice River on February 26
tallied over 5,000 SNOW GEESE, 1,000 BLACK DUCKS, 700 MALLARDS, 500 N.
PINTAIL, 300 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, and 200 BUFFLEHEAD. 28 CANVASBACKS were seen
from the Heislerville impoundments looking towards the Delaware Bay. The
Delaware Bay at Reeds Beach on February 26 held 20 COMMON GOLDENEYE,
RED-THROATED LOON, and a migrating AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER.
RED-THROATED LOONS stage here each winter and early spring, gathering at the
mouth of the Delaware Bay, their numbers growing day by day. The Concrete
Ship or any of the jetties in Cape May Point are excellent vantage points to
witness building numbers. The birds move around with the tide, so if you do
not see them, go back at a different tide. The March 16 "Cruisin' for Loons"
trip (12:30-5 p.m.) is timed to drink this in plus COMMON LOONS in full
breeding plumage (just before they migrate north). The March 26 "Birding
From the Ferry" trip (7 to 11
a.m.) is a great way to be surrounded by migrating N. Gannets and other
goodies. To register for either trip, call 609-861-0700, x-11.
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.
Many learning opportunities for wildlife gardeners are offered throughout
the state by NJ Audubon Society and shared on the website
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 to learn of spring sales.
CMBO's 2005 Cape May Birding Workshops are set. Registrations are being
taken now. To receive the workshop brochure call 609-861-0700 or go to:
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 late winter and early spring birding by attending upcoming CMBO
Weekly walks (no advanced registration, $6 members, $10 for others):
. Fridays (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.
. Saturdays (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.
. Sundays (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).
. Sundays (4 p.m. to dusk), "Nightfall at Jakes Landing" meets at the end of
Jakes Landing Road, near Dennisville.
. Sundays (1 to 2:30 p.m.), "Birding for First Timers" meets at the North
Shelter in the Cape May Point State Park.
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. Fencing
nesting habitat reduces disturbance as the birds are establishing territory
and protects the vulnerable ground nests once eggs are laid. This project is
perfect for those who are unable to make a long-term commitment. Each
fencing date only requires a few hours of mildly strenuous work (pounding
posts, placing rope and signage). Fencing dates this year include Saturday,
March 26th at 10am at Cape May Point State Park and Saturday, April 2nd at
10am at Stone Harbor Point. Contact Christina Kisiel, 609.628.2103 or
firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 Winter or Spring Program Schedules (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
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
Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!