Cape May Natural History Hotline - 4/14/2006

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 Friday, April 14. 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).

NOTICE: Both CMBO Centers will be closed on Sunday, April 16 (Easter Day).

Please read to the end of this hotline to learn how you can help Halt the Harvest & Save the Red Knot from Extinction.

According to the NJ Endangered & Nongame Species Program 31 pairs of BALD EAGLES in NJ have chicks that they are feeding now. The first young hatched on March 8th. Another 18 pairs are still incubating eggs, and a few pairs have been so secretive that no one knows where they are nesting.

A 40' HUMPBACK WHALE was in the Delaware Bay on April 9, 10, & 11, about 2 miles off Norburys Landing. It seemed healthy and was actively feeding in very shallow water. As it dove, waves of muddy water shot into the air! Historically whales were attracted to the fine fishing grounds in the Delaware Bay. Maybe weve come full circle!?

MONARCHS have been seen this past week by several keen observers: Villas (April 2), one at Higbee Beach and another in Gloucester County near the Winslow WMA (April 11), and along the beachfront at Strathmere (April 13). Monarchs overwinter in the mountains of Mexico. In February they breed in their mountain roost sites in a wild frenzy, then the fertile females migrate north laying eggs as they go. They get as far north as the Gulf States before they die. Their eggs, one month later, are the 1st generation or the kids of the overwintering population. So, these may be those kids, wandering north looking for Milkweed peeking through the ground to lay their eggs on. Swamp Milkweed is just peeking through in our South Jersey gardens. CMBO has TROPICAL MILKWEED seeds for sale at the Center in Goshen. Stop by & pick up a seed packet (60 seeds in each), more than enough to draw Monarchs to your oasis!

Spring has sprung! SALTMARSHES are still hay colored, but will green up quickly. Many trees are still winter-brown. But Sassafras trees look adorned with green balls as their leaves sprout. Tulip Tree leaves are coming out. Blueberry is in bud. Leatherleaf is blooming lusciously. Shadbush is in bloom along roadsides and catching ones eye with its beautiful delicate white blooms (which bloom just as Shad, the fish, are swimming up the Delaware River). Red Maples are RED with seeds. Forsythia and Flowering Quince are in full bloom. Ornamental Japanese Cherry trees, Plum trees, and Bradford Pears are blooming in yards. Skunk Cabbage is coming up a robust, lush green in wet woods. SWAMP PINK is just beginning to bloom!

Learn your weeds! Many of them are the only nectar for spring butterflies: PENNSYLVANIA BITTERCRESS, MUSTARD, PURPLE DEAD-NETTLE, and DANDELION. Leave them be until your garden starts blooming & then weed them out!

Lots of new butterflies, just emerged, were flying during this past warm week: BLACK SWALLOWTAIL (4/13), TIGER SWALLOWTAIL (4/13), JUNIPER OLIVE HAIRSTREAK (4/11), E. TAILED BLUE (4/7 in Goshen and 4/12 near Dividing Creek), lots of HENRYS ELFINS (on sandy roads in Belleplain, Bear Swamp, and Bevan WMA), PINE ELFIN (4/10 in Belleplain State Forest and 4/12 at Bevan WMA), PEARL CRESCENT (4/11), and lots of FALCATE ORANGETIPS (4/11 at Tarkiln Pond, 4/12 at Maple Street near Dividing Creek and in Peaslee WMA, 4/13 at Tuckahoe WMA and along Kimbles Beach Road). A MOURNING CLOAK and lots of bees were nectaring on a an ornamental Plum tree on April 6. A QUESTION MARK fed at Yellow-bellied Sapsucker holes on a Japanese Elm on April 11. Both Spring Spring Azures (6) and Atlantic Spring Azures (50) were flying on April 12 near Bear Swamp in Cumberland County. JUVENALS DUSKYWINGS are out in force. BLUE CORPORALS (dragonfly) are flying.

CARPENTER FROGS are hammering their song at Beaver Swamp WMA and at Tarkiln Pond, where a BEAVER was seen April 12 on the Peaslee Walk. This warm weather has N. BLACK RACER, GARTER SNAKE, and E. PAINTED TURTLES all out sunning.

Wow! RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS really came north this week, as far north as Connecticut and southern New York state according to http://www.hummingbirds.net . Despite all this, as of April 14, the CMBO Gardens in Goshen have been quiet. So, hang your feeders and patiently wait, like us! Remember that hummingbirds are moving north as flowers bloom and insects are available. A cold snap could be disastrous for them. FLOWERING QUINCE ,a shrub with red tubular flowers, is in bloom. When this blooms, hummingbirds arent far behind! Feeders are the key if you hope to attract breeding hummingbirds, since so little is in bloom this time of year. If you do hang feeders, be sure to maintain them: clean thoroughly and refill with fresh solution at least once each week when its cool, and every 3 or so days once hot weather hits. If youd like to garden for hummingbirds (and butterflies), NJ Audubons World of Backyard Habitat pages on our website shares TONS of helpful information, including full details on Plant Sales and Swaps for Wildlife Habitats and learning opportunities: http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat/Splash.html

PURPLE MARTIN scouts have returned all over New Jersey. Others are yet to arrive. Monitor their progress north at: http://purplemartin.org/scoutreport

GREAT HORNED OWLS are the earliest nesting bird, having laid eggs in late January. Right now they are feeding growing chicks, which seem to double in size each week. A very visible nest at the John Heinz NWR in the Philadelphia area has been a highlight on organized bird walks.

All of a sudden herons, egrets, and ibis are arriving. 200 GLOSSY IBIS were at the Tuckahoe WMA on April 13. Other herons and egrets have been enjoyed at the Meadows and on coastal marshes.

N. GANNETS are moving by in big numbers. Over 100 were enjoyed on April 7 as they followed the Ferry while it crossed the Delaware Bay. They were all adults. Take a Ferry ride and your camera and be dazzled. The show continued on April 11 as observers watched from Sunset Beach at the Concrete Ship, where 50 RED-THROATED LOONS were also enjoyed in the waters near the jetty. CMBOs Cruisin For Loons on Saturday, April 22 (1-5:30 p.m.) is timed for a stellar loon adventure, with 7 spaces left. Call 609-861-0700, x-16 to register or for more information.

WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS are singing in backyard feeding stations, Oh Canada, Canada, Canada. Enjoy them now. Theyll soon be gone since they breed far to the north. The first WOOD THRUSH were calling April 14 (Jakes Landing Road). BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS are everywhere, including one already building a nest on April 12 during the Peaslee WMA walk. An E. PHOEBE was on its nest at the Belleplain State Forest Field Office on April 12. Male and female WOOD DUCKS are paired up and being seen. E. BLUEBIRDS are on their nests and beginning to lay eggs.

On April 11 the Sunset at Stone Harbor Point walk enjoyed N. GANNETS flying by and plunge diving, pairs of AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER, and PIPING PLOVER doing courtship displays. On April 11 and 12 the Nummys Island Walk enjoyed YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON, a PEREGRINE FALCON, and lots of BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER and DUNLIN, and breeding plumaged COMMON LOONS.

The April 9 Hidden Valley Bird Walk enjoyed GNATCATCHERS, both KINGLETS, PINE WARBLERS, E. BLUEBIRDS, a PHOEBE, and migrant raptors (Sharp-shinned & 3 Kestrel).

The Thursday & Saturday Birds of Belleplain State Forest walks are enjoying many goodies: PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (4/13), BLACK AND WHITE WARBLERS, N. PARULA (4/14), lots of noisy YELLOW-THROATED WARBLERS, LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH, gobs of PINE WARBLERS, WHITE-EYED VIREOS, gnatcatchers, small flocks of PALM WARBLERS, and WILD TURKEYS (strutting!).

CMBOs spring walks sometimes 2-3 walks each day explore all the best hotspots. For details go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar calcmbo.html

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 CMBO Art Gallerys spring show, Wings and Migration, 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!

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 requiring advanced registration. All are detailed in the spring program schedule, the Kestrel Express. To get a copy (1) stop by either CMBO Center (open DAILY 9-4:30 except April 16, Easter), (2) call during business hours (609-861-0700) and well mail it to you, (3) or go to New Jersey Audubon's web site: 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.

Sunset Cruise for Spring Migrants and Heron Rookeries on Wednesday, May 10 (3 to 7 p.m.) aboard the Skimmer with Captain Bob & Linda Carlough and CMBO Naturalists.**

Sunset Cruise for Spring Migrants and Heron Rookeries on Wednesday, May 17 (3 to 7 p.m.) aboard the Skimmer with Captain Bob & Linda Carlough and CMBO Naturalists. **

Cape May Century Run Team on Saturday, May 13 (5 a.m. to 9 p.m.) Be on one of the World Series of Birding official teams along with a host of excellent leaders, led by Team Captain Pat Sutton. Bird leisurely all day and travel in the comfort of a Comfort Coach! 6 spaces left. **

As part of CMBOs 2006 Cape May Birding Workshops Michael OBrien will teach a 2-Day Birding by Ear Workshop, Thursday and Friday, May 4-5, 2006. 6 spaces left! Louise Zemaitis & Michael OBrien will teach a 2nd 2-Day Warbler Workshop, Monday and Tuesday, May 8-9, since the first is FULL. Mark Garland will teach a 2nd 3-Day Spring Migration Workshop, Tuesday through Thursday, May 16-18, since the first is FULL. Both have room! To register, call 609-861-0700, x-11. To learn more about these 2006 Cape May Birding Workshops go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks06.html

NJ Audubons 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

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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