CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY AND EVENTS HOTLINE, April 15, 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 update was made on Thursday, April 15. 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.
The Cape's first RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD was seen today, April 15,
at the CMBO Center in Goshen at a feeder. It was a male; they're the
first to migrate north. Joponica or Flowering Quince has just begun to
bloom, one of the hummingbird's favorite spring nectar sources and the
tell-tale sign that they're due! Hummingbird may also be following
migrant YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS north and feeding on their sap flows
and the insects attracted to them and on fruit trees just beginning to
bloom. To see just how far north Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have
migrated, go to:
If you are eager to make your backyard more attractive to
hummingbirds, butterflies, birds, and wildlife in general, CMBO has
just the selection of workshops for you. On April 17, Pat Sutton and
Karen Williams will teach a day of "Backyard Habitat Mini-Workshops"
designed for beginners at the CMBO Center in Goshen. Sign up for all 3
one-hour workshops or just one or two: "Butterfly & Hummingbird
Gardening," "Basics of Backyard Habitat,"and "Designing a Wildlife
Habitat." Slide presentations will feature backyard gardens and key
plants! Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register or learn more! Too,
don't miss CMBO's 7th Annual Plant Swap for Butterfly & Hummingbird
Gardens on April 24 (call 861-0700).
CMBO will 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 to
register or stop by either center to request the Nikon School of
Birding brochure. An "Optics Workshop" will be taught by Scott Edwards
at the CMBO Northwood Center in Cape May Point on Saturday, May 8, from
1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Call 609-861-0700 to register. This is an excellent
opportunity to compare binoculars and telescopes side-by-side and learn
what is best for you!
Hundreds of RED-THROATED LOONS are staging at the mouth of the
Delaware Bay before migrating north, as they do each spring. The
Concrete Ship is a great vantage point. Numbers change with the tides,
so return off-and-on through the day. For the ultimate loon
experience, join CMBO for "Cruisin' For Loons" on Sunday, April 25 (9
a.m. to 1:30 p.m.), when Red-throated Loon numbers should be peaking
and Common Loons in the back bay waters will be in breeding plumage &
maybe even calling. Two "Sunset Cruises for Spring Migrants and Heron
Rookeries" are scheduled for Saturday, May 1, and Wednesday, May 12,
from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m., and still have room. Call 609-861-0700, x-11,
to register, for these cruises.
We've suffered through another week of glum, cold, rainy weather
(except for the 10th and the morning of the 12th when a few migrants
were seen), 4" of rain on April 13. But today, April 15, the sun has
actually dared to come OUT! And the upcoming weekend will no doubt see
the spring migration floodgates open wide! Come birding NOW, but also
consider two very special workshops featuring the best of spring at
Cape May: a 2-Day Bullet Workshop for WARBLERS on May 8-9 (Saturday &
Sunday) and a 3-day Bullet Workshop at the peak of SPRING MIGRATION on
May 18-20 (Tuesday thru Thursday). To learn more & download a
registration form for these and other Cape May Birding Workshops, go to
NJ Audubon's web site at:
The "2004 Cape May Birding Workshop" brochure will reach CMBO members
any day. For a free brochure, call 609-861-0700, x-11.
To learn how the recent rains and other weather systems affect bird
migration, join Paul Lehman for his special "Weather and Bird
Migration" program on Saturday, May 8, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the
CMBO Center in Goshen. Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register
In Belleplain State Forest and Peaslee Wildlife Management Area some
breeding birds are back, in full song, chasing each other around,
gathering nesting material, and generally very entertaining. Expect to
enjoy many PINE WARBLERS, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLERS, CHIPPING and FIELD
SPARROWS, a handful of LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH, a few pairs of BLUE-GRAY
GNATCATCHERS, E. PHOEBE, and WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH, and singing,
secretive E. TOWHEE just about everywhere you go. Numbers will
probably build for all these breeders this weekend and other breeders
will arrive. Some of the birds that wintered here and will breed far
to the north are singing now, like YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, DARK-EYED
JUNCOS, and HERMIT THRUSH. Treat yourself to Belleplain State Forest
and nearby Peaslee WMA by joining CMBO Associate Naturalists on four
weekly, 3-hour walks, all beginning at 7:30 a.m., and all meeting at
the Belleplain State Forest Field Office, just off Rt. 550, west of
Woodbine: (1) every Thursday and (2) every Saturday the "Birds of
Belleplain State Forest," (3) every Monday the "Back Trails of
Belleplain," and (4) every Wednesday the "Birds of Peaslee WMA."
Nummy's Island on CMBO's Wednesday evening walk, April 14, was a joy:
very birdy and NO traffic! SNOWY EGRETS and GREAT EGRETS were
plentiful (undoubtedly new arrivals since the severe winter killed off
any that tried to winter here); 2 LITTLE BLUE HERONS (1st of the
spring!), 15 roosting BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS, OSPREY at their nest,
many pairs of noisy WILLET (just back!) and AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER,
several vocal CLAPPER RAILS (new arrivals, since the few that tried to
winter probably died), a din of LAUGHING GULLS, vocal and hunting
FORSTER'S TERNS, numbers of noisy BOAT-TAILED GRACKLES, 20+ COMMON
LOONS in Hereford Inlet, 60 RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, a few BUFFLEHEAD, 3
LONG-TAILED DUCKS in breeding plumage (dark and not nearly as
spectacular as their winter plumage), a pair of BLUE-WINGED TEAL, and a
numbers of BRANT. There were also lots of shorebirds, including the
first WHIMBREL of the spring (2), 50 DUNLIN (some even showing some
dark feathering coming in on their lower belly), 30+ BLACK-BELLIED
PLOVER, 7 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, and a few SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER. Three
excellent opportunities to see the riches of the marshes follow: (1)
every Tuesday, "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point & Nummy's Island"
meets at 6:00 p.m. in the Stone Harbor Point parking lot at the south
end of Stone Harbor, (2) every Wednesday, "Nummy's Island Bird Walk"
meets at 4:30 p.m. on the Nummy's Island road shoulder just north of
the toll bridge by the first "Speed Limit 50" sign (take North Wildwood
Boulevard to Ocean Drive; cross toll bridge -- ignore "Bridge OUT"
sign), (3) Friday, April 16, "Clapper Rail Madness" meets at 1:30 p.m.
in the parking lot at the end of Jakes Landing Road, near Dennisville.
A new BALD EAGLE nest was built at Beaver Swamp WMA in late December.
It is only 2 minutes up Sluice Creek from the CMBO Center in Goshen
(see the CMBO Birding & Butterflying Map for directions). Just today,
April 15, the adult in the nest was sitting higher and looking down
into the nest, so perhaps the young have hatched. This is one of 38
active nests in NJ, many of which now have newly hatched young they are
feeding. Three other pairs laid eggs but have already failed, one when
the nest blew out of the tree during a wind storm in mid-March. There
are four other pairs probably nesting, but impossible to monitor.
On April 14, the CMBO Cape May Point walk enjoyed CASPIAN TERNS,
PURPLE MARTIN, AMERICAN BITTERN, CHIMNEY SWIFT, and LAPLAND LONGSPUR,
among other birds. Eleven PURPLE MARTINS have returned to the martin
housing at the Cape May Point State Park. To experience birding south
of the Cape May Canal each of the following walks meets at 7:30 a.m.:
(1) every Friday, "Higbee Beach Bird Walk" meets in the parking lot at
the west end of New England Road, (2) every Saturday, "Spring Migrants
at the Rea Farm" meets in the parking lot on Bayshore Road, (3) every
Sunday, "Hidden Valley for Birds & Butterflies" meets in the small
clamshell parking lot on the south side of New England road, 0.3 miles
past the intersection with Bayshore Road, (4) every Monday, "Mondays at
The Meadows" meets at TNC's refuge parking lot on Sunset Boulevard, (5)
every Wednesday, " Birding Cape May Point" meets in the "South Shelter"
raised pavilion at the Cape May Point State Park. If you're a
beginner, join Mark Garland every Thursday for "Easy Birding"
(9:00-11:00 a.m.), meeting on the Wildlife Viewing Platform in Cape May
Point State Park. And to explore the Cape May NWR's newest
acquisition, be sure to consider every Tuesday's walk "Spring at Two
Mile Beach," which meets at 7:30 a.m. in the last parking area on the
left in the refuge, which lies to the east of Ocean Drive just south of
The cold, wet week was quiet for butterflies except on April 10 when
the sun came out and SPRING AZURE and HENRY'S ELFIN were seen in
Belleplain and at Beaver Swamp WMA. Today's sunny weather (April 15)
also resulted in HENRY'S ELFIN and SPRING AZURE (two spring
specialties) and CABBAGE WHITES and SULPHURS. One wonders if they
survived all the rain or emerged with today's warmth? Every Wednesday,
a "Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk" with Pat Sutton meets at 1:00 p.m. in
the parking lot at the end of Jakes Landing Road, near Dennisville, and
focuses on spring specialties. Pat Sutton and Rick Radis will lead a
special field trip to see "Hessel's Hairstreaks and Swamp Pinks" on
Saturday, May 8, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. A few spaces remain;
call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register. To learn of the Monarchs'
migration north, go to Journey North's very educational site at:
Another excellent site is Monarch Watch:
The 4" of warm spring rains on April 13 triggered a fun natural
history event, the emergence and breeding / calling of EASTERN
SPADEFOOT TOADS in Goshen and no doubt elsewhere. They have the
shortest development period of any frog or toad; from egg to
land-dwelling subadult takes as few as 12-13 days. During years of
drought Spadefoots may remain torpid burrowed underground and only come
to the surface after warm, heavy rains like we had on April 13.
TRAILING ARBUTUS is beginning to bloom on woodland trails in
Belleplain State Forest. In yards DAFFODILS, FORSYTHIA, and some fruit
trees are in bloom. LILAC is in bud. SHADBUSH is leafing out.
SPICEBUSH is in bud. During the rains APPLE RUST balls on Red Cedar
trees were swollen and gelatinous-like. Red Cedar is the host for
Apple Rust, which does not hurt cedar trees but does affect the fruit
and leaves of nearby fruit trees. CMBO invites gardeners (no
experience necessary) to help maintain our wildlife gardens at the
Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North). Join Karen Williams each
Friday, 9:30 a.m. to noon, for a weekly "Garden Maintenance Workshop,"
where you work in the CMBO gardens while learning from Karen about
gardening for wildlife. Karen will also be available every Friday for
"Wildlife Garden Advice" (1:00-4:00 p.m.) to assist with plant
purchases & general wildlife garden questions.
"FINE FEATHERS: Selected Works of Prominent North American Bird
Artists" is now on display at CMBO's Center in Goshen (open daily:
9-4:30) featuring works by John Sill, Sophie Webb, Julie Zickefoose,
Keith Hansen, Jonathan Alderfer, Mimi Hoppe Wolf, and Cynthia House to
name a few!
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:
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).
CALLING ALL VOLUNTEERS!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 on Saturday, May 8, 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!