Cape May Natural History Hotline - 3/31/2005

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 31. 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).

A call for (1) Shorebird Stewards, (2) Environmental Stewards, and (3) Great Blue Heron Colony info can be found at the end of this hotline.

What a wonderful time of year it is! A number of winter birds are still here and each day brings new spring arrivals. Dont miss a moment of the spring. Attend one or all of CMBOs 17 different weekly spring walks; many began in earnest this week. For details go to the end of this hotline or to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

Or get a jump start on spring and sign up for the Weekend Field Trip to Chincoteague, April 23-24, with Mark Garland. Call 609-861-0700, x11.

LINGERING WINTER TREATS: A SNOWY OWL, found March 30 at Stone Harbor Point, was seen again today, March 31, by the dredge spoil area. It is probably an immature male (quite pale) and may be the same bird that was seen on the beach at Corsons Inlet on March 26 . 4 SHORT-EARED OWLS hunted Brigantine NWR all afternoon on March 24 and 2 were seen there March 30. Two hunted Motts Creek on March 25. 3 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS were at Tuckahoe / Corbin City WMA on March 30, and 4 were at Amassas Landing and Motts Creek on March 25. A singing FOX SPARROWS was enjoyed at a feeder in Goshen on March 30. Winter waterfowl numbers are past their peak for most species, though 3 EURASIAN GREEN-WINGED TEAL (or COMMON TEAL) continue: 1 at Corbin City and 2 at Tuckahoe WMA on March 30. 1 TUNDRA SWAN was still at the Tuckahoe WMA impoundments on March 30. Over 400 RED-BREASTED MERGANSER were seen in Great Bay between Graveling Point and Seven Bridges Road March 25.

LAUGHING GULLS are virtually everywhere now; 400 were counted on Nummys Island March 30. OSPREY are back in force and on many nest platforms; 45 were seen along the Great Egg Harbor River March 30. GLOSSY IBIS arrived in force March 30, with 150 flying over Hancocks Bridge in Salem County and 10 at Brigantine NWR. Migrating GREAT BLUE HERONS and GREAT EGRETS passed over the Great Egg Harbor River March 30. AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER are abundant and chasing one another about. WILD TURKEYS are displaying now; a flock of 15 were at Rio Grand on March 28 in the field across from the Wildwood Water Works. COOPERS HAWKS are displaying near their nesting territories. Mark Garland will teach Birding 101" on Saturday, April 16 (10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.), a great way learn all about the many birding tools and resources and savor the many spring treats during outdoor practice time. There is still room call 609-861-0700, x 11.

The first RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD was seen March 30 in the Villas. Be sure to put up your feeders if you hope to attract nesting hummingbirds, since our gardens are dirt right now. Even if hummingbirds do not visit your yard, still clean and refill feeders with fresh solution at least once each week. To monitor their journey further north and know just when to put out your hummingbird feeders, go to the following site and click on the migration map: http://www.hummingbirds.net/map.html

If youre itching to put in a butterfly & hummingbird garden or add to one, visit NJ Audubons website 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

Mark your calendar and dont miss CMBOs Annual Plant Swap and Native Plant Sale (Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) where lots of goodies will be available. CMBOs Wildlife Garden Naturalist Training sessions (6 to 8 p.m., Thursdays, April 7 to May 19) still have a few spaces left. Call 609-861-0700, x11 to sign up.

Other SPRING TREATS: A PURPLE MARTIN was at the Rea Farm on March 28. A YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER fed on Sunflower hearts in a garden in Goshen on March 30 & 31. PINE WARBLERS are back in force. PIPING PLOVERS have returned to most nesting beaches. A LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH fed around the East Point Lighthouse March 24 and another was singing in Belleplain State Forest March 31 at Savages Run Bridge.

On March 26, CMBOs Birding From the Ferry enjoyed 2 GREAT CORMORANT (showing their white breeding patch), 25 N. GANNET (all adults), 2000 BLACK & SURF SCOTER, and 20 PURPLE SANDPIPER. 60 RED-THROATED LOONS were around the Concrete Ship. Each winter and early spring Red-throated Loons stage at the mouth of the Delaware Bay before migrating north. CMBOs 2nd Cruisin for Loons trip Sunday, April 17 (9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.)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 trip call 609-861-0700, x-11.

AMERICAN WOODCOCK are still displaying. If youve never witnessed this amorous aerial display, be sure to attend the Twilight at Higbee Beach walk with Mark Garland, meeting in the parking lot at the west end of New England Road, offered every Saturday, 5:30-7:30 p.m. (April 1), and 6.30-8:30 p.m. (April 9 - May 7).

A pair of BALD EAGLES is nesting at Beaver Swamp WMA, just up Sluice Creek from CMBOs Center in Goshen. They began incubating about March 5; young should hatch 34-36 days later or about April 8-10. 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 flurry of MOURNING CLOAKS were seen March 30 (9 along the Great Egg Harbor River, 1 in Belleplain State Forest, 1 in Cape May Point) along with an anglewing (E. COMMA or QUESTION MARK), and a SPRING AZURE. CMBOs Hessels Hairstreak, Elfins, & Pigmy Pine trip on Saturday, May 7 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), still has room. Call 609-861-0700, x11 to register.

A din of SPRING PEEPERS can now be heard, along with lone calls of a few other species. S. LEOPARD FROGS were calling from the Cape May Point State Park March 30. DAFFODILS are blooming. A SEAL was seen from the Longport Bridge on March 30 and 2 were at the end of Seven Bridges Road (south of Tuckerton) on March 25, including one eating a giant eel. A MINK was also seen on Seven Bridges Road on March 25. BATS are flying with the warm weather.

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 Countys Biggest Trees, call 609-861-0700, x-11.

CMBOs 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 OBrien. 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 Societys 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 youve read over the brochure, direct any questions to Sheila Lego or Marleen Murgitroyde at 609-884-2736.

SHOREBIRD STEWARDS NEEDED: Red Knot need all the help they can get this spring. Numbers on the wintering grounds were frighteningly low, even lower than last winters low numbers. The NJ Endangered & Nongame Species program welcomes volunteer SHOREBIRD STEWARDS on NJs 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.

ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDS needed at the Cape May NWRs Two Mile Beach Unit, May 26 - September 11 (30 hours/week; $200/week). Send a resume and letter of interest (by April 29) to: Cape May NWR, 24 Kimbles Beach Road, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210; 609-463-0994.

GREAT BLUE HERON COLONIES: The Endangered and Nongame Species Program is conducting a survey of Great Blue Heron colonies across New Jersey and is looking for undocumented (in the state database) colonies in Cumberland and Cape May counties. If you are aware of colonies (of any size) in this area, please contact Chris Kisiel (609-628-2103 or ckisiel@gtc3.com).

Enjoy early spring birding by attending upcoming CMBO programs:

Weekly walks (no advanced registration, $6 members, $10 for others): Every Friday (7:30-9:30 a.m.), Higbee Beach Bird Walk meets in the parking lot at the west end of New England Road. Every Saturday (7:30-10:30 a.m.), Birds of Belleplain State Forest meets at the Belleplain State Forest Field Office, just off Rt. 550, west of Woodbine. Every Saturday (7:30-9:30 a.m.), Spring Migrants at the Rea Farm meets in the Beanery parking lot on Bayshore Road. Saturday, April 2 (5:30-7:30 p.m.) Twilight at Higbee Beach meets in the parking lot at the west end of New England Road. Every Sunday (7-9 a.m.), Birding at Stone Harbor Point, meets in the Stone Harbor Point Parking Lot. Every Sunday (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. Every Sunday (1 to 2:30 p.m.), Birding for First Timers meets at the North Shelter in the Cape May Point State Park. Every Monday (7:30-9:30 a.m.), Birding With Pete Dunne meets at 7:30 a.m. in TNCs parking lot on Sunset Boulevard. Every Monday (5 to 7 p.m.), Evening at Jakes Landing meets at the end of Jakes Landing Road. Every Tuesday (7:30 to 9:30 a.m.), Spring at Two Mile Beach meets in the last parking area on the left in the refuge. Every Wednesday (7:30-9:30 a.m.), Birding Cape May Point meets in the "South Shelter" raised pavilion at the Cape May Point State Park. Every Thursday (7:30 to 10:30 a.m.), Birds of Belleplain State Forest meets at the Belleplain State Forest Field Office, just off Rt. 550, west of Woodbine

Special programs and field trips in addition to those already mentioned follow (prices vary: call 609-861-0700 for info and to register): Introduction to Spring Wildflower ID, Sunday, May 1 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) with Mark Garland Listening to the Night, Monday, May 9 (9 to 11 p.m.) with Mark Garland and Chris Vogel Sunset Cruises for Spring Migrants and Heron Rookeries, Wednesdays (May 11 & 18), 3 to 7 p.m.

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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