Cape May Natural History Hotline - 4/10/2002
You have reached the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This update was made on Wednesday, April 10. The Cape May Birding Hotline has moved to 609-898-BIRD (sorry for any inconvenience). NJ Audubon's three hotlines can be read in full on NJ Audubon's web site (http://www.njaudubon.org) by clicking on "Sightings" at the top of any page. Now on with the hotline!

It was an odd week with a dusting of snow the morning of April 6 and 80 degree temperatures on April 9. Spring continues to unfold with new arrivals each and every day, as winter birds can still be enjoyed.

CMBO just learned that 8 of the MONARCHS tagged here last fall (7 at Cape May Point and 1 at Stone Harbor Point) were found in the winter roosts in Mexico in February. The Monarchs that survived the winter in Mexico mated and began migrating north mid-March. They laid eggs along the way on milkweed and reached the Gulf States before they died. Reports from Monarch Watch this week share that eggs laid March 11 in McAllen, Texas, have just produced the first spring generation of adult Monarchs (emerged on April 4). These adults will now continue the migration north and perhaps reach our area, mate, lay eggs, and die . . . and their eggs will create the next generation that will continue further north, until Monarchs repopulate the entire eastern U.S. all the way to southern Canada.

Journey North's web site details the northbound migration of Monarchs, along with that of many other species. As of April 11, Monarchs have been sighted far north as the middle of Missouri, one in Kentucky, and up the Atlantic Coast to North Carolina. Follow their movement yourself on Journey North's site: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/spring2002/species/monarch/index.html

So, a MONARCH discovered TODAY, April 10, by Jack Connor in Port Republic, NJ, is a real surprise and who knows what it means . . . perhaps a Monarch that successfully wintered further north than Mexico (Florida, Texas, ? ? ?).

Other southern butterflies wandered north this week too, some highly unusual (a Sleepy Orange) and some to be expected (Red Admiral). A SLEEPY ORANGE was discovered today, April 10, just south of Goshen at the Dennis Creek WMA in fields west of Route 47 (just north of the Cardinal Acres development). Newly arrived RED ADMIRALS found a patch of stinging nettle in a garden in the Villas on April 9 and laid eggs, and one was in a backyard garden in West Cape May on April 8 & 9.

The warm temperatures have triggered some of our resident butterflies to emerge from their winter sleep as chrysalides this week: AMERICAN COPPERS (at a number of locations), HENRY'S ELFINS & E. PINE ELFINS (at Jakes Landing and Beaver Swamp WMA on April 7), PEARL CRESCENT (Higbees on April 7), E. TAILED BLUES (Dennis Creek WMA just south of Goshen on April 10), and clouds of SPRING AZURES (almost everywhere you go).

And TICKS are out in force. Explore with caution & be sure to do a thorough tick check of your person and your clothing after outings in South Jersey. CMBO's two bookstores carry excellent books on ticks and Lyme Disease. If you enjoy the outdoors, it is wise to be as educated as possible.

GREAT HORNED OWL chicks are large enough now that they can't be missed. The Avalon nest seems to have 1 owlet and the Turkey Point nest has 2 that are obvious and possibly a third that is harder to see. This hotline has been following the progress of these two nests since early February when they were discovered. Great Horned Owls are our earliest nesting bird. This is one time of year when you can EASILY see a Great Horned Owl if you have discovered an active nest. Any nest should not be approached. Luckily in the case of these two nests, they can be viewed from public viewing platforms and are across water or out on the marsh, so hopefully safe from those who don't know better. The nest in Avalon is in an old Osprey nest on a platform left of a cedar island in the backbay area and can be viewed from the 5th Avenue street end, just off 20th Street. To reach this spot take the small bridge going west on 21st Street, then turn right onto 5th Avenue & go to the street end. The Turkey Point nest (in Cumberland County) is in an old Red-tailed Hawk's nest visible from the viewing platform at the end of Turkey Point Road. Great Horned Owls are vocal again and being heard about 7:30 p.m. most evenings. If you are hearing them call, you can be assured that they are on a nest somewhere in your woods.

BALD EAGLES, our second earliest nesting bird, are also now feeding young. In New Jersey, 34 pairs of breeding adults were monitored by volunteers in February and March when many pairs worked on nests and laid eggs. Some pairs never laid eggs, others abandoned nest sites. As of April 5, 22 pairs are busy with young. An amazing success story when we look back to 1982 when there was only one nest in the entire state. One of the most easily viewed nests in the state is at Stow Creek, in northwestern Cumberland County on the border of Salem County. This pair began incubating February 23 and their young hatched on April 4. Be sure to visit this nest now through June when the young begin to test their wings. A viewing platform on Route 623, just north of Stow Creek, offers an excellent view.

75 RED-THROATED LOONS were gathered at the mouth of the Delaware Bay today, April 10. Each March & April, Red-throated Loons stage here before migrating north. A trip to the Concrete Ship is a must; some are close and feeding in the waters around the ship and in the waters between the Concrete Ship and the Alexander Avenue jetty in Cape May Point. Different tides bring the birds in closer, so if one visit is birdless, keep revisiting. CMBO's popular "Cruisin' For Loons" trip (Saturday, April 20, 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.) still has room. This trip will drink in the concentration of Red-throated Loons at the Concrete Ship and then hop on "The Skimmer" to explore the back bay waterways for Common Loons. Past trips have been treated to loons in full breeding plumage & some years calling birds. Join us for this special preregistration trip. Call 609-861-0700 for more details or to register!

A trip aboard the Cape May Lewes Ferry right now is a must if you want to get the look of a lifetime at N. GANNETS. The new ferry boats, as they cross the Delaware Bay, are attracting several hundred gannets to their wake. And the birds are close and right now include a mix of adults and immatures. The birds are actively feeding, diving into the churned up water in the boat's wake and successfully coming up with fish or pieces of fish. Some days the birds are close to shore at Cape May Point & can be savored easily from land.

Each spring Belleplain State Forest is a favorite hotspot. Many of the forest's breeding birds are already singing on territory and each day brings new arrivals. On territory this week were: lots of YELLOW-THROATED WARBLERS (sounding like a slurred or drunk Yellow Warbler), PINE WARBLERS (a slow musical trill on one pitch), BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS, and GREAT-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS. Also heard were LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH, ACADIAN FLYCATCHERS, and E. PHOEBES at their usual haunts. The forest's first BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLERS and WHITE-EYED VIREOS, as well as a calling BROAD-WINGED HAWK, were enjoyed today, April 10. Explore this forest with CMBO naturalists (who know it intimately) EVERY Thursday (thru May 30) and Saturday April 27, May 4, & May 25 on CMBO's "Birds of the Deep South in Belleplain State Forest" (7:30-10:30 a.m.). Walk meets at Belleplain State Forest Field Office, just off Rt. 550, west of Woodbine.

WHIP-POOR-WILLS were heard calling at Leeds Point, north of Forsythe (Brigantine) NWR this week.

PURPLE MARTINS are IN and hanging around the martin houses at Cape May Point. They've still not arrived at CMBO's center in Goshen, but the new martin house is open for business. The Purple Martin Conservation Association's web site maps their movement north in their "Scout Arrival Study:" http://www.purplemartin.org

E. BLUEBIRDS began building a nest today, April 10, in one of the bluebird boxes in the meadow behind the CMBO center in Goshen.

CMBO's first "Raptors & Songbirds of the Delaware Bayshore Walk" on April 7 enjoyed a field full of AMERICAN KESTREL (10 migrants), FIELD SPARROWS, PINE WARBLERS, HERMIT THRUSH, and BLUEBIRDS, among other goodies. This walk is offered EVERY Sunday (thru May 26, except May 12 & 19) and meets at 8 a.m. (walk goes til 10 a.m.) at the CMBO Center for Research & Education, 600 Route 47 North, in Goshen.

Local BARRED OWLS have been active of late. Adults are no doubt on eggs right now. An excellent web site that monitors a nest in western Massachusetts noted the first egg on March 29. This site also includes seasons past and an extensive sound library on Barred Owls various calls and what the birds are doing when they make those calls: http://www.owlcam.com/index.htm

NESTING BIRDS around the world that are monitored with cameras, including the Barred Owl site just mentioned and many others in the East, can be found on this fun site: http://www.pitt.edu/~dziadosz

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS are CLOSE if not already here. The wonderful hummingbird web site: http://www.hummingbirds.net shared sightings this week from southeastern Pennsylvania (4/7), Delaware (4/9), and Maryland (4/8). All the plants that bloom when hummingbirds are due are IN BLOOM: Joponica or Flowering Quince, Highbush Blueberry, many fruit trees, and many weedy wildflowers. Be sure to hang your hummingbird feeders if you haven't already. And also be sure to maintain them. When our local hummingbirds do arrive, their activity will not drain the feeders. So, take down your feeders each week, clean thoroughly, and partially fill with fresh solution. Stop by CMBO to see our full selection of easy-to-maintain feeders and to get CMBO's handout on hummingbird feeder directions and maintenance. Coupling a feeder with habitat and gardens is the key. If you are new to hummingbird & butterfly gardening, be sure to read "How to Create a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden," by Pat Sutton, posted on NJ Audubon's web site at: http://www.njaudubon.org/NatureNotes/Garden.html

CMBO is taking registrations for our very popular, annual CAPE MAY SPRING WEEKEND (May 17-19), a 3-day event with walks beginning as early as Friday morning at 7:30 a.m. and running straight through Sunday at 5 p.m. An incredible opportunity to savor spring to the fullest with bird, butterfly, dragonfly, and botany walks running all weekend long at a variety of famous hotspots, back bay boat trips, special programs and workshops, book signings by local authors, special evening programs (Friday's program is by Clay & Pat Sutton on the Galapagos and Saturday's program is by Pete Dunne) and more. And the entire weekend has multiple opportunities for the full range of expertise: beginners, intermediates, and experts alike. Call CMBO to get a brochure (609-861-0700 or 609-884-2736). NJ Audubon's web site has some details about the weekend: http://www.njaudubon.org/centers/cmbo/springweekend.html

Other Cape May Bird Observatory SPRING Offerings include 8 different weekly walks for birds, butterflies and gardens ("hitting" each of the spring hotspots) that requires no preregistration; JUST COME! There is a charge ($6 CMBO/ NJ Audubon member; $10 nonmember). Details follow:

EVERY Thursday (thru May 30) -- "Birds of the Deep South in Belleplain State Forest" (7:30-10:30 a.m.) meets at Belleplain State Forest Field Office, just off Rt. 550, west of Woodbine.

EVERY Thursday, April 25 to June 20 -- "Birds, Butterflies, and Their Habitat" (1:00-3:00 p.m.) -- Meet Mark Garland in parking lot at Higbee Beach WMA.

EVERY Friday (thru May 31, except May 17) --"Birds of Higbee Beach" (7:30-9:30 a.m.) meets at Higbee Beach WMA parking lot at the west end of New England Road

EVERY Friday (thru June 28, except May 10 & 17) -- "Garden Maintenance Workshop" (9:30 a.m.-Noon) meets at the CMBO Center in Goshen (and is FREE ... learn about wildlife gardening while you help tend the garden with garden consultant, Karen Williams).

EVERY Saturday (thru June 8, except May 11 & 18) -- "Spring Migrants of the Rea Farm" (7:30-9:30 a.m.) meets in the "The Beanery / Rea Farm" parking lot on Bayshore Road (not the produce stand on Stevens Street).

Saturday April 27, May 4, & May 25 -- "Birds of the Deep South in Belleplain State Forest" (7:30-10:30 a.m.) meets at Belleplain State Forest Field Office, just off Rt. 550, west of Woodbine.

EVERY Sunday (thru May 26, except May 12 & 19) -- (1) "Hidden Valley for Birds & Butterflies" (7-9 a.m.) meets in the small clamshell parking lot on the south side of New England Road 0.3 miles east of Bayshore Road, and (2) "Raptors & Songbirds of the Delaware Bayshore" (8-10 a.m.) meets at the CMBO Center for Research & Education, 600 Route 47 North, in Goshen.

EVERY Monday (thru June 24) -- "Birding with Pete Dunne" (7:30-9:30 a.m.) meets at The Nature Conservancy's refuge parking lot on Sunset Boulevard

EVERY Tuesday, April 16 to June 11 -- "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point & Nummy's Island" (6 p.m. to dusk) meets in the Stone Harbor Point parking lot.

EVERY Tuesday, April 30 to May 28 -- "Birding Hot Spot of the Week" (7:30 to 9:30 a.m.) meets at Cape May Point State Park in the raised picnic pavilion.

EVERY Wednesday (thru June 26) -- "Birding Cape May Point" (7:30-9:30 a.m.) meets at the Cape May Point State Park in the raised picnic pavilion.

EVERY Wednesday, April 24 to May 29 -- "Birding by Ear Walk" (7:30-9:30 a.m.) -- Meet Pat Sutton at the end of Jakes Landing Road.

Requiring preregistration & not to be missed !!! EVERY Sunday & Monday, April 21 to June 30 (except May 19) join Captain Bob Carlough & explore the back bays and marshes aboard the Skimmer, a 40-foot catamaran, on CMBO-sponsored "Back Bay Birding by Boat" (10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in April & May; 10:00 a.m. to Noon in June). To register, call Wildlife Unlimited at 609-884-3100.

CMBO's SPRING PROGRAMS "in full" (April through June 2002) are posted on New Jersey Audubon's web site: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html Some preregistration spring programs include an "Intermediate Birding Course" with Vince Elia on April 13-14, a full day "Nature of Belleplain" outing with Mark Garland on April 13, a "Cruisin' For Loons" field trip & cruise on April 20, "Clapper Rail Madness" on April 26 (and again on May 3 & May 10), CMBO's "5th Annual Plant Swap for Backyard Habitat Plants" on April 27, a field trip to the "Cape May NWR's Great Cedar Swamp Division" on April 27, "Full Moon Over the Meadows" on April 27, a "Warbler ID Mini-Workshop with Louise Zemaitis on May 4, a "Hessel's Hairstreak in the Jersey Pine Barrens" field trip on May 4 with Pat Sutton, a "Sunset Cruise for Spring Migrants & Heron Rookeries" on May 4, a full-day field trip exploring "Cape May Top to Bottom" with Mark Garland on May 5, the "Cape May Century Run Team" (an official team in NJ Audubon's World Series of Birding) with Pat Sutton on May 11, lots of shorebird & horseshoe crab programs by mid-May, and much, much more! To receive a copy of the spring schedule stop by either CMBO Center or call 609-861-0700.

The Cape May Bird Observatory is a research and education unit of the New Jersey Audubon Society. Our aim is to perpetuate and preserve the ornithological and natural history significance of Cape May. Your membership supports these goals and this hotline. For more information call 609-861-0700 or send a request for information to CMBO, 600 Route 47 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210. Our two centers are CMBO's Center for Research & Education at 600 Route 47 North in Goshen and CMBO's Northwood Center at 701 East Lake Drive in Cape May Point.

The Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline is a service of New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory and details sightings from Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties and near shore waters. Updates are made on Thursday evenings. Please report natural history sightings to CMBO at 609-861-0700 or 609-884-2736. For the Cape May Birding Hotline call 609-898-BIRD. 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) pat_sutton@njaudubon.org

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