Cape May Natural History Hotline - 4/24/2003
You have reached the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This message was prepared on Thursday, April 24. 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."

GREAT HORNED OWLS are our earliest nesting bird and their young will be the first to fledge. A nest in Elsinboro, near Salem at the end of Money Island Road has one sizable owlet in it that can be easily viewed by day. The Great Horneds have used an old Osprey nest. Enjoy it now. As soon as this youngster can fly it will disappear.

BALD EAGLES are the second earliest nesting bird. Their young are over a month old now and becoming visible in some nests. There are 38 pairs in New Jersey this spring, though not all have been successful. One new nest is deep within Beaver Swamp WMA, just up Sluice Creek from the Cape May Bird Observatory's Center in Goshen and one of the adults is seen almost daily from the center as it hunts Sluice Creek or follows the creek out to the Delaware Bay.

RED-TAILED HAWKS are on nests now and might be seen chasing off wandering Red-tails from near their nests.

BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS and E. PHOEBES have been back a while and are beginning to build their nests this week.

PURPLE MARTINS, TREE SWALLOWS, and E. BLUEBIRDS are all showing interest in nest boxes at the Cape May Bird Observatory Center in Goshen, though the recent rains and cold weather played havoc with insect eating birds the last few weeks.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS are daily now at the CMBO Center in Goshen. Be sure to get your feeders up, especially if you would like them to nest in your yard. Clean feeders at least once a week, even if use is minimal. And of course be sure to also provide a lush butterfly & hummingbird garden.

Bird song in Belleplain State Forest is a joy now with many of the breeding warblers and other speciality birds back: LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, PINE WARBLER, BLACK AND WHITE WARBLER, OVENBIRD, WORM-EATING WARBLER, HOODED WARBLER, and ACADIAN FLYCATCHER. At Jakes Landing a din of CLAPPER RAILS, WILLET, FORSTER'S TERNS, and SEASIDE SPARROWS call from the marshes. The "Birds of Belleplain State Forest" walk every Thursday and every Saturday (7:30-10:30 a.m.) and the "Back Trails of Belleplain" walk every Monday (7:30-9:30 a.m.) are a MUST! And if you seriously want to learn bird songs join Pat Sutton for "Birding by Ear Walk" each Wednesday, 7:30-9:30 a.m.

CMBO's "Cruisin for Loons" trip on Saturday, April 26 (12:30 to 5 p.m.) still has room and is looking forward to savoring this magic time when winter loons (RED-THROATED LOONS and COMMON LOONS) are coming into breeding plumage just before they migrate north. Call (609) 861-0700, x-11, to sign up. The few CLAPPER RAILS that tried to winter here were hard hit by the ice and snow and the winter marshes were silent. They've returned in masses and their calls are already deafening as they begin their breeding season. Join Pat Sutton or Judy Lukens for one of the specially arranged "Clapper Rail Madness" programs to actually see these very secretive birds: Friday, April 25 (12:30 to 2:00 p.m.); Saturday, April 26 (1:30 to 3:00 p.m.); Friday, May 2 (5 to 6:30 p.m.); call (609) 861-0700, x-11 to register. "Back Bay Birding By Boat" cruises, every Sunday and Monday (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.), offer comfortable and close looks at birds of the saltmarsh and back bays (call Wildlife Unlimited, call 609-884-3100 to register for these CMBO-sponsored trips). A special "Sunset Cruise for Spring Migrants and Heron Rookeries" on Saturday, May 3 (3-7 p.m.), still has room; sign up by calling (609) 861-0700, x-11.

Take advantage of the "Binoculars and Spotting Scopes for Bird & Butterfly Watching Workshop" on Sunday, April 27 (from 1-3 p.m.) at CMBO's center in Goshen to learn what is best suited for you and to fully savor spring's birds, butterflies, dragonflies, flowering plants, whatever!

Stretches of cold and rain have held back butterflies and dragonflies. But the few warm, sunny days or even days with a few hours of these conditions have produced butterflies. New butterflies seen this week include: FALCATE ORANGETIP (April 22, Weatherby Road in northern Cape May Co.), E. TAILED BLUE (April 23), JUVENAL'S DUSKYWING (April 22 on Jakes Landing). PINE ELFIN, HENRY'S ELFIN, BROWN ELFIN, and SPRING AZURE are all flying still. Enjoy these spring specialities while they last! 100 ORANGE SULPHURS were at Woodcock Trail in the Cape May NWR on April 24, the first sign of numbers of these common butterflies, along with an AMERICAN LADY, an immigrant from the south. EVERLASTING is about 3" high along road shoulders in Belleplain State Forest and will attract American Ladies looking to lay eggs. Dragonfly sightings have been sparse with the cold and wet conditions, though a few BLUE CORPORALS are being seen. A "Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk" with Pat Sutton at the Dennisville RR tracks is offered every Wednesday, from 10 a.m.-Noon. Join Mark Garland for two natural history outings: "Spring at Two Mile Beach" every Wednesday (2-4 p.m.) and "The Nature of Cape May" every Thursday (9-11 a.m.).

BLUEBERRY bushes are in bud. Many trees are budding and giving a gauzy look to the forests and new green shoots of Spartina are peeking through last year's brown stalks on the saltmarsh. SASSAFRAS buds, big and yellow, are eye-catching. SHADBUSH is in bloom along the Parkway and other roads of South Jersey. This small native tree has dainty white flowers, blooms when the Shad are running up the Delaware Bay, and fruits in June, hence it's other name, JUNEBERRY. PIXIE MOSS (a Pine Barrens speciality at the northern limit of its range), SWAMP PINK (an Endangered Plant in New Jersey), and TRAILING ARBUTUS (found along the sandy woods trails of Belleplain State Forest) are all in bloom right now. Savor these spring specialities!

CMBO's Center for Research & Education in Goshen will host its "6th Annual Plant Swap & Plant Sale for Butterfly & Hummingbird Gardens" Saturday, April 26 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Bring your extra perennials that need dividing. Last year's plant swap had gems and favorites like Coral Bells, Anise Hyssop, Bee Balm, Catmint, Mountain Mint, Boltonia, Cardinal Flower, New York Ironweed, Viburnum, Black Chokeberry, and Red Cedar. Don't miss this great and cost-free opportunity to start your first garden or expand on an already existing garden. A great way to get design ideas is by attending CMBO 1st ever "Spring Tour of Private Butterfly & Hummingbird Gardens," on Saturday, May 3 (1-4 p.m.); sign up (spaces are limited) by calling (609) 861-0700, x-11. If you'd like to learn as you help CMBO maintain its gardens in Goshen, join Karen Williams on Fridays (9:30 a.m.-Noon) for "Garden Maintenance Workshops." Plant divisions are often delightful payment for your labor and having a chance to learn so much from Karen as you work.

Additional regularly scheduled walks that require no preregistration and will help you witness spring unfolding include: "Higbee Beach Bird Walk" every Friday (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Spring Migrants at the Rea Farm" every Saturday (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Hidden Valley for Birds & Butterflies" every Sunday (7-9 a.m.), "Raptors and Songbirds of Delaware Bayshore" every Sunday (8-10 a.m.), "Birding for First Timers" every Sunday (1-3 p.m.),"Mondays at the Meadows" every Monday (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point & Nummy's Island" every Tuesday (6 p.m. to dusk), and "Birding Cape May Point" every Wednesday (7:30-9:30 a.m.). Full details about cost & meeting place can be found at NJ Audubon's web site: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

CMBO's full listing of spring programs (April - June) is posted on New Jersey Audubon's web site at http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html CMBO's spring program schedule, the Kestrel Express, is now available. If you are not a member and would like to receive a copy, stop by either CMBO Center or call (609) 861-0700.

New Jersey Audubon Society's 20th Annual World Series of Birding has a record 72 teams signed up so far, including 13 YOUTH TEAMS, and will be held on Saturday, May 10th, 2003. This event draws teams from all over the country and offers a forum for groups to raise money for their respective conservation causes. To learn more go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/wsb).

The Cape May Bird Observatory offers an extensive series of regular bird and butterfly walks that require no pre-registration and many special field trips and programs for which advanced registration is required. To receive a copy of our Program Schedule, stop at one of our centers, call the office during business hours at 609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's WEB SITE at http://www.njaudubon.org

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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