Cape May Natural History Hotline - 4/3/2003
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 3. 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."

Spring has sprung! Butterflies are out & about, though diversity is still low. On April 2, 60 SPRING AZURES were seen along the sand roads of Belleplain State Forest. QUESTION MARK, E. COMMA, MOURNING CLOAK, CABBAGE WHITE, and just today (April 3) the first ORANGE SULPHUR have all been seen this spring. One HENRY'S ELFIN, seen March 29 near the Villas, was an early emergent. Join Pat Sutton every Wednesday (10 a.m.-Noon) for a "Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk" near Dennisville and /or Louise Zemaitis for the "Hidden Valley for Birds & Butterflies" walk every Sunday (7-9 a.m.). Butterflying in early spring is challenging. Nectar is almost non-existent. One important nectar source in early spring is the delicate blooms of RED MAPLE trees. Keep an eye on these trees for nectaring butterflies and moths. Many spring butterflies perch on sand roads trying to warm up after cool nights. Searching sites like this you are also bound to spot SIX-SPOTTED GREEN TIGER BEETLES (brilliant emerald green with tiny white spots). RED BATS can be found hunting at dusk on warm evenings. Warm temperatures have also activated TICKS. Enjoy the outdoors, but be serious about tick checks afterwards.

CMBO's dragonfly pond in Goshen has calling SPRING PEEPERS (peeping), S. LEOPARD FROGS (guttural call) and CHORUS FROGS (like running a finger over teeth of comb). Huge tadpoles with 1" wide heads can be seen scooting through the leaf litter on the pond floor. They are BULLFROG tadpoles, a tadpole that is known to overwinter as a tadpole, sometimes even spending two years in the water before they metamorphose, according to Bob Zappalorti. Along Jakes Landing Road WOOD FROGS calling sound like distant ducks quacking.

TRAILING ARBUTUS (just coming into bloom) can be found on the old woods roads through Belleplain State Forest and Jakes Landing Road. As you look down for it also be alert for RIVER OTTER scat (gray and full of fish scales and bones) if you're near water. A MINK was seen at Forsythe NWR on March 31.

BARRED OWLS are nesting now in the wet woods of New Jersey, places like Belleplain State Forest and Great Cedar Swamp. A wonderful way to learn all about nesting Barred Owls can be found on the following web site where the last 6 nesting seasons and this year's are chronicled with photos, diary accounts, and a sound library: http://www.owlcam.com Cape May Bird Observatory is offering a "Cape May National Wildlife Refuge Field Trip" on Saturday, April 12 (1:00 to 4:00 p.m.), to explore a variety of spots in the refuge's "Great Cedar Swamp Division," an area that stretches from Dennisville north to Route 50 and beyond up Cedar Swamp Creek. Spaces are limited; call (609) 861-0700, x-11 to register.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS are not YET here, but will be arriving probably in the next few days or week. The "migration map" on http://www.hummingbirds.net shows them as close as northern Virginia on March 30. Further inland they're already north to mid-Ohio. So, they're CLOSE! Get your feeders up. Very little is in bloom for hummingbirds right now, so feeders are the key if you hope they'll nest in your yard. Of course, be sure to also provide a lush butterfly & hummingbird garden, but that won't be in bloom till later.

PURPLE MARTINS are moving through. Be sure your houses and gourds are ready for the scouts & keep your fingers crossed that we have good weather. Being strictly insect feeders, they are very hard hit by wet and cold stretches (i.e. starve to death). BLUEBIRDS and TREE SWALLOWS are inspecting the nest boxes in the meadow at the Cape May Bird Observatory's Center in Goshen. WOOD DUCKS are beginning to nest and searching for sizable tree cavities or well-placed boxes. OSPREY are back at nearly all their nests and busy carrying nesting material. Flocks of WILD TURKEYS, including displaying males, are being seen near Centerton and along Haleyville Road in Cumberland County.

Bird song began in mid-March, slowly of course. Each week confusion will build as new arrivals join in. Pine & Yellow-throated Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, & E. Phoebes are all on territory in Belleplain State Forest. The "Birds of Belleplain State Forest" walk every Thursday and every Saturday (7:30-10:30 a.m.) is 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.

37 pairs of BALD EAGLES are nesting in New Jersey. Eggs are hatching every day! One pair nests along the upper reaches of the Maurice River and a second pair is prospecting for its own nest site. CMBO's very special and very promising "Maurice River Bald Eagle Cruise" on April 13 (10 am. to 12:30 p.m.) still has room; call (609) 861-0700, x-11 to register.

Many of the birds that winter in South Jersey and will migrate far north to breed are coming into breeding plumage. Treat yourself to a day afield enjoying them in all their finery. A GREAT CORMORANT (white hip patch bright now) on the Maurice River has been perching side-by-side next to DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (look for the crests) on each of our "Bald Eagle Cruises on the Maurice River." LONG-TAILED DUCKS, 30 strong, entertained in all their finery at the Avalon Seawatch on April 2. RED-NECKED GREBE are showing red on the neck! COMMON LOONS in full breeding plumage might be seen in the Cape May Harbor or the back bays.

RED-THROATED LOONS are congregating at the mouth of the Delaware Bay; several hundred might be seen from the Concrete Ship. CMBO's very special and popular "Cruisin for Loons" trip on Saturday, April 26 (12:30 to 5 p.m.), is scheduled to enjoy both Red-throated Loons and Common Loons (some in full breeding plumage). Sign up (spaces limited) by calling (609) 861-0700, x-11.

CROCUSES, DAFFODILS, and FORSYTHIA are blooming. Flowering Quince buds are swelling and should be blooming as hummingbirds arrive. If you'd like to help CMBO maintain the "Model Backyard Habitat 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.

CMBO's Center for Research & Education in Goshen is selling seed packages with annual seeds harvested from our very own gardens in Goshen: (1) Salvia "Lady in Red" which flourishes in drought conditions and is irresistible to hummingbirds and swallowtails, (2) Brazilian Verbena (Verbena bonariensis) for butterflies, hummingbird moths and lots of other insects, and (3) Cardinal Climber, a hummingbird magnet. Trees, shrubs, and vines will be available for sale there by mid-April. Mark your calendars and begin potting up your favorite perennials as you divide them so they'll be ready for CMBO's "6th Annual Plant Swap & Plant Sale for Butterfly & Hummingbird Gardens" Saturday, April 26 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). 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.

The Cape May Bird Observatory's spring walks have begun in force. In addition to the walks already mentioned, 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.), "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.), "Birding Cape May Point" every Wednesday (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Spring at Two Mile Beach" every Wednesday (2-4 p.m.), "The Nature of Cape May" Thursday, April 17, (9-11 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 (click on "Calendar," then on "Cape May Bird Observatory"). 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.

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 Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, updated every Thursday evening.

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. Both are open DAILY, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information call (609) 861-0700. Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!

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