Cape May Natural History Hotline - 4/25/2002
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 Thursday, April 25. 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!

Combo's first Wednesday "Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk" on April 24 enjoyed excellent looks at five of the spring ethereal butterflies: PINE ELFIN, HENRY'S ELFIN, BROWN ELFIN, and FROSTED ELFIN, COBWEB SKIPPER, and many, many JUVENAL'S DUSKYWING. Hotspots were Old Robbins Trail off Jakes Landing and Dennisville railroad tracks. TIGER SWALLOWTAIL, BLACK SWALLOWTAIL, and SPICEBUSH SWALLOWTAIL, E. TAILED BLUE, SPRING AZURE, PEARL CRESCENT, both AMERICAN LADY & PAINTED LADY, the springs first COMMON BUCKEYE & VICEROY, and SILVER-SPOTTED SKIPPERS were all seen this week. Higbee Beach, the Rea Farm, Beaver Swamp WMA, and just about any place that is good for birds is also good for butterflies right now! Or plan to join CMBO's weekly "Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk" (10 a.m. - Noon), meeting EVERY Wednesday, April 24 to May 29, at the end of Jakes Landing Road. A LUNA MOTH was found in the Villas and SNOWBERRY CLEARWING (one of the Hummingbird Moths) was enjoyed at Higbee Beach and another in Eldora. Numbers of MANTLED BASKETTAILS and BLUE CORPORAL SKIMMERS were seen this week at Jakes Landing, Old Robbins Trail, and in Belleplain State Forest. Several COMMON GREEN DARNERS were also seen this week.

The first BOTTLE-NOSED DOLPHIN were seen mid-April and by the 22nd already putting on a grand show off Cape May and Cape May Point's beachfront.

Migration is in full swing. Many woodlots are filling up with male songbirds on territory that arrived the night before. Overhead during the day the migration has been very visual with wavy lines of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT for the last few weeks, flocks of GREAT BLUE HERONS coming in off the Delaware Bay since about April 18th, and COMMON LOONS high overhead in ones and twos and sometimes larger loose flocks for the last few weeks.

HERONS and EGRETS are back. Flocks of GLOSSY IBIS and flocks of GREAT EGRETS and SNOWY EGRETS are regular now dotting the skies as they cross back and forth across the Cape May peninsula. Some of the GLOSSY IBIS flocks are taking advantage of recent rains and feeding in wet farm fields in Goshen along with fair numbers of CATTLE EGRETS.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS were suddenly everywhere this week. Reports came in from a number of yards with feeders and backyard habitats all over Cape May County on April 20 and 22. This was a strange spring where the first was seen April 13 at the CMBO Center in Goshen, but not again until April 22. Normally the first arrival stays and sets up shop. Males arrive first and immediately become territorial. The spring's first female was seen April 23 at the CMBO Center in Goshen and has been here ever since, along with at least one male. Many of the plants hummingbirds are attracted to are IN BLOOM: Joponica or Flowering Quince, Highbush Blueberry, Autumn Olive, many fruit trees, Large-flowered Vetch, and Wild Columbine. Be sure to hang your hummingbird feeders if you haven't already. And also be sure to maintain them. When our resident hummingbirds arrive, their activity will not drain the feeders. So, clean your feeders thoroughly EVERY week (even if your feeder is still full) and 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 gardening for hummingbirds & butterflies, 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

Also make a note that CMBO's Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North) has WILDLIFE GARDEN PLANTS FOR SALE now through October, EVERY DAY, including many trees, shrubs, vines, and perennials that are hard to find elsewhere. Stop by to see the selection, which changes weekly. A few of this week's sale items include: EASTERN RED CEDAR (30+ birds feed on the berries and Juniper Hairstreaks lay their eggs on this), ARROWWOOD VIBURNUM, SOUR GUM, BLACK CHOKEBERRY, CORAL HONEYSUCKLE (hummers!), HOPS (Question Marks lay their eggs on this), CATMINT, WILD COLUMBINE (hummers!), STINGING NETTLE (Red Admirals lay their eggs on this), and GARDEN PHLOX. If you'd like to be e-mailed as wildlife garden plants "for sale" are delivered to CMBO, send CMBO (600 Route 47 North, CMCH, NJ 08210) your e-mail address and ask to be added to this outgoing e-mail message list. Also, plan to take advantage of CMBO's "5th Annual Plant Swap & Plant Sale for Backyard Habitats" on Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to Noon. This is a great cost-free way to start your first garden or expand on an already existing garden. Pot up and bring extra perennials in your wildlife garden (or trees, shrubs, vines) & bring them. Three of your plants will go into the plant swap and you will get a certificate redeemable for a new (to you) plant for each additional plant you bring.

CMBO's "Cruise'n for Loons" on April 20 enjoyed a number of COMMON LOONS in full breeding plumage in the Cape May Harbor and back bay waterways (seen by boat from "The Skimmer"), N. GANNETS feeding in the Delaware Bay -- still some adults but also lots of immatures (seen from the Concrete Ship), pairs of OSPREY on many nest platforms, and lovely looks at 20 WHIMBREL, many paired up AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER, and hundreds of DUNLIN and BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER in the marshes and salt ponds behind Wildwood Crest (enjoyed by boat from "The Skimmer"). RED-THROATED LOONS were absent at the Concrete Ship in the Delaware Bay waters, where normally at this time of year there would be hundreds. The warm waters must have triggered an early departure this year.

Many of CMBO's spring walks have been underway since April 1 and quite a spring it's been. The trickle of new arrivals has become a flood and many breeding birds are now abundant during these walks.

The Belleplain State Forest walks are enjoying lots of YELLOW-THROATED WARBLERS, PINE WARBLER, PRAIRIE, BLACK-AND-WHITE, BLUE-WINGED WARBLERS & YELLOW WARBLERS, COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, OVENBIRDS, WHITE-EYED VIREOS, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS, and GREAT-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS. WORM-EATING, HOODED WARBLERS, and PROTHONOTARY WARBLERS, LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH, ACADIAN FLYCATCHERS, and E. PHOEBES have all arrived and are all in their usual haunts. 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.

SEASIDE SPARROWS, often hard to see, are in full song now at places like Goshen Landing, Jakes Landing, and on up the Delaware Bayshore. Learn their call, and put some time in trying to see the singing male. CLAPPER RAILS, WILLETS, and FORSTER'S TERNS are also thick in these bayshore habitats and might be enjoyed along with YELLOW-THROATED WARBLERS, N. HARRIER on territory, and more on CMBO's "Raptors & Songbirds of the Delaware Bayshore walk, offered EVERY Sunday, now thru May 26 (except May 12 & 19), from 8-10 a.m., meeting at the CMBO Center for Research & Education, 600 Route 47 North, in Goshen.

PROTHONOTARY and YELLOW WARBLERS, WHITE-EYED VIREOS, RUSTY BLACKBIRDS and more have been enjoyed during CMBO's "Spring Migrants of the Rea Farm walk," offered EVERY Saturday, now thru June 8 (except May 11 & 18), from 7:30-9:30 a.m., meeting in the "The Beanery / Rea Farm" parking lot on Bayshore Road (not the produce stand on Stevens Street).

PIPING PLOVERS and LEAST TERNS are back & being enjoyed along with many other shorebirds and terns during CMBO's "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point & Nummy's Island Walk," offered EVERY Tuesday, April 16 to June 11, from 6 p.m. to dusk, meeting in the Stone Harbor Point parking lot.

PALM WARBLER, HOODED WARBLER, and PRAIRIE WARBLER, RED-SHOULDERED & BROAD-WINGED HAWK, E. BLUEBIRD and more were all enjoyed this week during CMBO's "Hidden Valley for Birds & Butterflies Walk," offered EVERY Sunday, now thru May 26 (except May 12 & 19), from 7-9 a.m., meeting in the small clamshell parking lot on the south side of New England Road 0.3 miles east of Bayshore Road.

The Nature Conservancy's Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge (also known as the South Cape May Meadows) has been a hotspot this week to hear and see AMERICAN BITTERN and VIRGINIA RAILS. Other goodies enjoyed there this week include AMERICAN WOODCOCK (still displaying pre dawn), COMMON SNIPE, SORA, and a Bottle-nosed Dolphin show off the beachfront. Join Pete Dunne or CMBO Associate Naturalists when Pete is traveling, EVERY Monday (thru June 24) for CMBO's "Birding with Pete Dunne walk," from 7:30-9:30 a.m., meeting at The Nature Conservancy's refuge parking lot on Sunset Boulevard to enjoy this area.

The dawn chorus is a true din now. If you are struggling to sort out bird song, join CMBO for our "Birding by Ear Walk" (7:30-9:30 a.m.) led by Pat Sutton and meeting at the end of Jakes Landing Road EVERY Wednesday, April 24 to May 29. A fun assortment of bird song was enjoyed at a variety of habitats on the first walk: CLAPPER RAIL, FORSTER'S TERN, SEASIDE SPARROW, WILLET, PINE WARBLER, PRAIRIE, and BLACK AND WHITE WARBLERS, WHITE-EYED VIREO, and more!

2 GREAT HORNED OWLS nests in the area can still be enjoyed (first discovered in early February). Each is a safe distance from disturbance & in full view. The young owlets are getting quite large & beginning to test their wings. Mom is sometimes at the nest and sometimes hidden in nearby trees, now that the young are so large that they take up the entire nest. Dad has been also on watch but unseen in nearby cover, where Great Horned Owls normally spend their time -- HIDDEN. So this rare opportunity to SEE one of our most secretive birds is a MUST. One nest is in Avalon in an old Osprey nest on a platform (it has 1 chick) 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 second nest is at Turkey Point (in Cumberland County) in an old Red-tailed Hawk's nest visible from the viewing platform at the end of Turkey Point Road.

BALD EAGLES, our second earliest nesting bird, are also now feeding young. In New Jersey, 22 pairs are busy with young. 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.

The forest is almost fully leafed out. Lots of color dots the road shoulders. Shadbush, a small tree or large shrub, is in full bloom and covered with small white blooms. It is so named since it blooms when the Shad, a type of fish, are "running" or heading up the Delaware Bay and river to spawn. This native tree is in bloom here and there along the Garden State Parkway & other road sides in Cape May County. Flowering Dogwood, Lilac, Highbush Blueberry (bell-like flowers attract hummers), Autumn Olive (hummers like), Beach Plum, and Wild Columbine are also all in bloom. Treat yourself to a visit to Higbee Beach WMA. The trail straight out to the beach cuts through a forest of Beach Plum bushes and is a fairyland of dainty white flowers. Look for spring butterflies on the blossoms, Juniper Hairstreaks especially love Beach Plum blossoms. In Belleplain State Forest Leatherleaf is in bloom around the shores of Nummy's Lake and bright yellow Golden Club is in full bloom in East Creek Lake.

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.

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 13 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 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) -- "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.

EVERY Sunday (thru May 26, except May 12 & 19) -- "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.

EVERY Wednesday, April 24 to May 29 -- "Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk" (10 a.m. - Noon) -- Meet Pat Sutton at the end of Jakes Landing Road.

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.

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 a field trip to the "Cape May NWR's Great Cedar Swamp Division" on April 27, "Full Moon Over the Meadows" outing with Mark Garland on April 27, a "Clapper Rail Madness" field trip on May 3 (and another on May 10), 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 ONLY 6 places left) 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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