Cape May Natural History Hotline - 4/1/2004

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, April 1. 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.

As soon as temperatures rise we'll all be out in our gardens. Consider helping CMBO get the wildlife gardens at the Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North) ready for spring 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 or every Friday by joining Karen Williams for the weekly "Garden Maintenance Workshops," 9:30 a.m.-Noon (requiring no preregistration). Karen Williams will also be available every Friday for "Wildlife Garden Advice" 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!

Saturday, April 3, at 2:00 p.m. NJ Audubon's Important Bird and Birding Areas (IBBA) Coordinator, Jennifer Mattice, will present a FREE, hour-long program at the Cape May Bird Observatory Center for Research & Education in Goshen (600 Rt. 47 North). All are welcome. Highlights will include slides showcasing Global Important Bird Areas in NJ, details about the NJ Program, and information on how you can get involved with this exciting conservation initiative.

The new exhibit in CMBO's classroom and in The Loft at CMBO's Center in Goshen, titled: "FINE FEATHERS: Selected Works of Prominent North American Bird Artists" will OPEN April 1! Works have been gathered from all over the country and are on display through June 13 -- works by: John Sill, Sophie Webb, Julie Zickefoose, Keith Hansen, Jonathan Alderfer, Mimi Hoppe Wolf, and Cynthia House to name a few! Perhaps come early to enjoy them at your leisure.

We are still enjoying a fine mix of winter and spring! Though the recent stretch of cold and rainy weather put a damper on arrivals and outings! Despite this some firsts occurred!

YELLOW-THROATED WARBLERS arrived March 26 at Jakes Landing (1 bird) and in Belleplain State Forest in the pine stands (a number of birds), and on March 28 a LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH was in Belleplain State Forest on Savage Run Road. Throughout the forest male PINE WARBLERS have been IN and singing for some time; the first female was seen March 26. E. PHOEBE are at their regular breeding sites in Belleplain and elsewhere. Treat yourself to this very special place by joining CMBO Associate Naturalists on three weekly, 3-hour walks in the forest, all beginning at 7:30 a.m. and all meeting at the Belleplain State Forest Field Office, just off Rt. 550, west of Woodbine: every Thursday and every Saturday for the "Birds of Belleplain State Forest" walk, and every Monday for the "Back Trails of Belleplain" walk.

Two very special workshops will feature the best of spring at Cape May and are filling fast: (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). To learn more & download a registration form, go to NJ Audubon's web site at: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks04.html The "2004 Cape May Birding Workshop" brochure will reach CMBO member shortly. Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to request a free copy of this brochure.

The NJ Endangered & Nongame Species Program's recent Bald Eagle nest update shared that 38 pairs of Bald Eagles are on nests now, and an additional 4 pairs tried and failed already. Young have hatched at 9 nests. On CMBO's March 27 & 28 "Maurice River Bald Eagle Cruises" two tiny young were seen as their wobble heads peeked over the nest edge briefly! One eaglet was seen in the Dividing Creek nest during CMBO's March 28 "Sunday Morning Turkey Point Walk."

Several hundred RED-THROATED LOONS can be seen from the Concrete Ship now. Each spring they stage here at the mouth of the Delaware Bay before migrating north. Their numbers will continue to grow. 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).

There are still about 75,000 sea ducks or scoters at the mouth of the Delaware Bay. 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. While scanning for them from the State Park's raised pavilion, also look for the HARLEQUIN DUCK that has favored the St. Mary's jetty most of the winter and was seen there as recently as March 29, N. GANNETS (30 on 3/28), and LAUGHING GULLS (160 on 3/28). " Birding Cape May Point" meets every Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. in the "South Shelter" raised pavilion at the Cape May Point State Park , and "Mondays at The Meadows" meets every Monday at 7:30 a.m. at TNC's refuge parking lot on Sunset Boulevard -- two great ways to witness this and other late winter/early spring goodies!

OSPREY are back at nearly every nest site now. RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS are back at their nest sites. GREAT HORNED OWLS have fairly sizable young now, they being the earliest nesting birds.

Expect PIPING PLOVER on beaches. 8 were at Two Mile Beach on March 25.

200-300 TREE SWALLOWS were over a pond near Millville on March 30. At the CMBO Center in Goshen a pair inspected nest boxes on March 24 and on the 25th four birds were doing courtship flights. If you haven't readied your nest boxes, you'd better scramble! Bluebirds, American Kestrel, Carolina Chickadees, and other hole-nesting birds are all looking NOW!

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: http://www.njaudubon.org/Centers/CMBO/SpringWeekend.html

SHORT-EARED OWLS winter here and will soon be gone. One continues to be seen at Jakes Landing and was seen on the last "Nighfall at Jakes Landing" walk on March 28.

The spring's first BOTTLE-NOSED DOLPHIN was seen March 26 off Cape May Point. When temperatures climb to 55 degrees F. or higher, expect butterflies! GRAY HAIRSTREAK (March 27 at CMBO in Goshen), HENRY'S ELFIN (1st seen March 21 in Belleplain), SPRING AZURE (1st seen March 15), MOURNING CLOAKS, QUESTION MARKS, E. COMMA, SULPHURS and CABBAGE WHITES (since March 24) have all been seen on warm days. Red Maples are flowering and, once the rain stops and the temperatures rise, will draw in hungry butterflies, being the only nectar available in early spring. On March 26, RIBBON SNAKE, GARTER SNAKE, WOOD FROG, LEOPARD FROG, GREEN FROG, SPRING PEEPER, AND PAINTED TURTLE were all enjoyed on either the State Park trails or at the Rea Farm. A MUSK TURTLE was sunning on March 28 at Turkey Point. Daffodils are blooming; lilac is budding.

To learn of the Monarchs' migration north, go to Journey North's very educational site at: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/spring2004/monarch/index.html Another excellent site is Monarch Watch: http://www.monarchwatch.org/update

Additional walks (requiring no preregistration) that will help you savor spring unfolding include: Every Friday, "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, "Spring Migrants at the Rea Farm" (7:30-9:30 a.m.) meets in the parking lot on Bayshore Road. Every Sunday, "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 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 Tuesday, "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 Crest.

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: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks04.html

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).

New Jersey's first Purple Martins was seen in Vineland on March 24. Make sure your Martin housing is in order & ready to go! To learn more, go to the Purple Martin Conservation Organization's site at: http://www.purplemartin.org/scoutreport/2004/scout.html

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are coming too! One was seen as close as northern Virginia! To learn more, go to: http://www.hummingbirds.net/map.html


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 bnb@gtc3.com 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!

Patricia Sutton
Program Director
New Jersey Audubon Society's
Cape May Bird Observatory
Center for Research & Education
600 Route 47 North
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
609-861-0700, x-16 (phone) / 609-861-1651 (fax)

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