Cape May Natural History Hotline - 3/9/2006

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 9. 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).

Spring has sprung! The first LAUGHING GULL was seen on March 7 at the Cape May Ferry Terminal. And this year's LAGU Award goes to George Myers & Karl Lukens. A PINE WARBLER was singing in Goshen at 6:30 a.m. today, March 9. WOOD FROGS just began calling this week (on March 7), giving their duck-like quacking. A MOURNING CLOAK was seen March 8 during a wonderfully, warm, spring-like day. The first BALD EAGLE chicks may have hatched. The pair at Beaver Swamp on March 8, seemed to be busy with something down in the nest. Let's keep our fingers crossed! BARRED OWLS are on territory and getting noisy; they may lay eggs later this month. A terrific site to visit, showcasing successful nesting Barred Owls in past years, is http://www.owlcam.com On March 8, a CAROLINA CHICKADEE was inspecting a potential nest hole and a WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH sang its full spring song in Eldora. An amazing 7,000 scoters were close to Cape May's beachfront at Poverty Beach on March 2. Many were vigorously engaged in courtship and the wails of courting BLACK SCOTERS could be heard several blocks inland. RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS are "konk-er-ee" ing like mad! A YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON was seen March 6 in North Wildwood! A pair of AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER was seen flying north across the Delaware Bay on March 2. 20+ AMERICAN WOODCOCK danced for CMBO's March 4th "Woodcock Dance" at the Woodcock Lane Trail in the Cape May NWR. They were so thick that some males could be heard growling at each other while on the ground. Head out at last light to the fields at Higbee Beach or Woodcock Lane to savor this short-lived spring display!

Each spring RED-THROATED LOONS stage at the mouth of the Delaware Bay. Huge numbers gather and feed in these waters. On March 2, 300 were seen flying north across the Bay. COMMON LOONS can be found in the backbay waters and around jetties, including the 8th Street Jetty in Avalon. They're successfully catching crabs. By mid-April Common Loons will be coming into breeding plumage just before they migrate further north. Timed for a stellar loon adventure, is CMBO's "Cruisin' For Loons" on Saturday, April 22 (1-5:30 p.m.) with 17 spaces left. Call 609-861-0700, x-16 to register or for more information.

On March 2, a big push of northbound N. GANNETS passed by -- 300-400 and mostly adults. 200+ BONAPARTE'S GULLS fed in the waters behind the idling ferry on March 7. CMBO's "Poor Man's Pelagic" on Saturday, March 18 (7-11 a.m.) is timed perfectly to drink in the gannet movement, wintering Bonaparte Gulls, the scoter gathering, and whatever else is heading north across the Delaware Bay! 1 space left!

On March 5, the Cohansey River area in Cumberland County held 6,000 SNOW GEESE, 12 BALD EAGLES (10 adults), an immature RED-SHOULDERED HAWK, 29 N. HARRIER, 3 SHARP-SHINS, 2 COOPER'S HAWKS, and 43 RED-TAILED HAWKS, including ONE on a NEST! 25 WILD TURKEY, 10 E. MEADOWLARKS, and a HORNED LARK chasing a SNOW BUNTING were among some of the other goodies enjoyed. CMBO's "Birding Cumberland" on Sunday, March 19 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) will explore the Cohansey River area. 5 spaces remain!

An AMERICAN BITTERN was in The Meadows on March 7 and 8, along with a WILSON'S SNIPE, HOODED MERGANSERS, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, GADWALL (in stunning plumage), and AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS. And an AMERICAN BITTERN was in the Cape May Point State Park in Lighthouse Pond, along with HOODED MERGANSERS and LESSER SCAUP on March 5. Join the experts, those who are out every day, by attending one of CMBO's weekly SPRING walks (requiring no preregistration ): (1) Every Friday (5 p.m.-dusk), "Winter Evenings at The Meadows" meets in TNC's parking lot on Sunset Boulevard. (2) Every Saturday (8-10 a.m.) "Birding Cape May Point" meets at the Cape May Point State Park on the raised Picnic Pavilion. (3) Sunday, March 12 & 26, the "Nightfall at Corbin City Bird Walk" meets on Griscom Mill Rd. (off Rt. 50) in the Corbin City Hall parking lot at 5 p.m. (4) Sunday, March 19, will be the final "Nightfall at Jakes Landing" walk, meeting at the end of Jakes Landing Road at 5 p.m. (5) "Sunday Mornings at Turkey Point" meets every Sunday morning through March 26 (8 to 10 a.m.), meeting at the end of Turkey Point Road.

CMBO had the Forest Fire Service perform a controlled burn on our meadow again this spring. They did it on March 7. Keep an eye on it and you'll be amazed how quickly it greens up!

RED MAPLE TREES are budding! Butterflies will be attracted. A MINK was seen March 3 at Brigantine NWR. COYOTES were calling near the Rea Farm on March 7.

The first migrant RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD returned to the United States on March 2 in Alabama. Since then 24 sightings have come in from all the states lining the Gulf Coast. Go to the following site to watch them move north: http://hummingbirds.net/map.html

The CMBO Art Gallery's newest show, "Wings and Migration," just opened and 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!

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 first PIPING PLOVERS are due any day. If you'd like to help the NJ Fish and Wildlife's 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

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

CMBO's 11th Annual Optics Sale will be Saturday and Sunday, March 18-19 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Brochures have been sent to members and can be downloaded on NJ Audubon's website. This sale is open to members of NJ Audubon and/or CMBO ONLY. If you are not a member, join today and take advantage of fabulous deals!

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

CMBO's Gardens in Goshen need to be prepared for spring. Join us for one of the 5 "Garden Cleanup" sessions in March: (1) Fridays and Saturdays, March 10, 11, 24, 25 (9 a.m. to noon). (2) Thursday, March 16 (3-6:30 p.m.). Dinner or lunch provided! Call with dates you'd like to help: (609) 861-0700, x-11.

"Wildlife Garden Naturalist Training" will be held every Thursday evening (6-8 p.m.), April 6 to May 18 (except April 20). Train under longtime wildlife habitat gardener Pat Sutton & be certified to volunteer in CMBO's model backyard habitat gardens in Goshen. Sessions will cover ID of native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and weeds, butterfly & moth biology (life cycle), maintenance of a Purple Martin colony, Ruby-throated Hummingbird biology/needs, and wildlife garden maintenance with THE focus on wildlife! **

"Driving Tour of Cape May County's Giant Trees" (100 to 300-year-old trees in the southern part of the county)" on Saturday, April 8 (10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) with Lyman Hoffman and Pat Sutton. **

"Weekend Field Trip to Chincoteague With Mark Garland" on Saturday, April 8 and Sunday, April 9. 9 spaces left. **

"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 Trust's newest preserves. 10 spaces left. **

As part of CMBO's 2006 Cape May Birding Workshops Michael O'Brien will teach a "2-Day Birding by Ear Workshop," Thursday and Friday, May 4-5, 2006. 9 spaces left! To register, call 609-861-0700, x-11. To learn more about this workshop or the 13 other "2006 Cape May Birding Workshops" go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks06.html

NJ Audubon's "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

Aside from the many NJ Audubon field trips to this location, the Barnegat Lighthouse State Park is hosting a special day called "HARBOR SEALS & HARLEQUINS" on Saturday, March 11, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., to include guided wildlife watching walks, opportunities to climb the lighthouse, and activities for all ages. For more information, call 609-494-2016.

CMBO's 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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