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Cape May Natural History Hotline - 4/8/2005
CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY AND EVENTS HOTLINE, April 8, 2005

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 8. 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 website (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on "Sightings" (top of any page).

A call for (1) Shorebird Stewards, (2) Environmental Stewards, and (3) Great Blue Heron Colony info can be found at the end of this hotline.

Winter lingerers are mixing with summer breeders now. The ultimate, though, was watching the sedentary SNOWY OWL perched within the fenced in Plover / Tern area at Stone Harbor Point while 11 PIPING PLOVER fed in the background on April 6 & 7 (no Snowy Owl reports yet today, April 8). Don't miss a moment of spring unfolding! Attend one or all of CMBO's 17 different weekly spring walks. A few of this week's highlights follow. For details on each walk, go to the end of this hotline or to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

RED-THROATED LOONS and COMMON LOONS are still here in force. Numbers of Red-throated Loons stage at the mouth of the Delaware Bay each spring before migrating north and numbers of Common Loons are in the back bay waters. CMBO's Sunday, April 17 (9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) "Cruisin' for Loons" trip still has room and is timed to drink in the Red-throated Loon gathering in Delaware Bay, plus COMMON LOONS in full breeding plumage (just before they migrate north). To register call 609-861-0700, x-11.

Every Monday (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Birding With Pete Dunne" meets at 7:30 a.m. in TNC's parking lot on Sunset Boulevard. On April 4 this walk enjoyed GREAT CORMORANTS in beautiful breeding plumage, PIPING PLOVERS, AMERICAN KESTREL, PIED-BILLED GREBE and more!

Every Monday (5 to 7 p.m.), "Evening at Jakes Landing" meets at the end of Jakes Landing Road. On April 4 this walk savored YELLOW-THROATED and PINE WARBLER, 3 BALD EAGLES, 7 GLOSSY IBIS, and a MARSH WREN.

Every Tuesday (7:30 to 9:30 a.m.), "Spring at Two Mile Beach" meets in the last parking area on the left in the refuge. On April 5, the group enjoyed 2 N. PARULA, PINE and PALM WARBLERS, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, migrating N. GANNET, loons, and more!

Every Tuesday (6 p.m. to dusk), "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point" meets in the parking lot at the south end of Second Avenue in Stone Harbor. PIPING PLOVER, AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER, and other shorebirds, terns, gulls, herons, egrets, ... and maybe even a SNOWY OWL!

Every Thursday and Saturday (7:30-10:30 a.m.), "Birds of Belleplain State Forest" meets at the Belleplain State Forest Field Office, just off Rt. 550, west of Woodbine. This magical forest is already full of singing LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLERS and PINE WARBLERS, and BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS, with other birds arriving daily!

Breeding warblers are arriving daily! CMBO's 2005 Cape May Birding Workshops (15 different offerings) are timed to learn and savor peak concentrations. The "2-Day Warbler Workshop," May 9 & 10 (Monday & Tuesday) with Louise Zemaitis and Michael O'Brien, still has spaces. To register call 609-861-0700, x-11. To receive the workshop brochure call 609-861-0700 or go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks05.html

OSPREY are working on their nests. RED-TAILED HAWKS are on eggs. BARRED OWLS have newly hatched young. The gale of wind on April 2nd and 3rd played havoc with young GREAT HORNED OWLS, blowing a number of them out of nests. The same wind pushed migrating N. GANNET close to shore for excellent looks! Waterfowl has really thinned out along the Mullica River and moved north. AMERICAN GOLDFINCH are splotchy now as they begin to turn golden yellow. GREAT EGRETS and SNOWY EGRETS are suddenly everywhere! 100s and 100s of LAUGHING GULLS are everywhere now too. TREE SWALLOWS and BARN SWALLOWS are abundant. AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER are very vocal now and chasing each other about. A pair was seen mating at Nummy's Island on March 30! PURPLE MARTINS have returned to the colonies at the Cape May Point State Park and elsewhere this week.

Winter lingerers Leeds Point still held 2 SHORT-EARED OWLS on April 5 at 4:45 p.m. The same day, 2 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS were along the Mullica River. Listen for singing HERMIT THRUSH; this winter bird will soon be gone from our southern forests. 316 RED-BREASTED MERGANSER were in the waters off Reeds Beach on April 2.

RED MAPLES are budding, and often provide the only nectar in early spring. On the butterfly front out WEST there has been a massive invasion of PAINTED LADIES into California (reported on the weather channel). A few PAINTED LADIES have been seen in South Jersey since March 30; be alert and let us know of your sightings. MOURNING CLOAKS are daily as they dash across the landscape. Dozens of SPRING AZURES were seen April 5 and 6 during the toasty warm weather. The first HENRY'S ELFINS and PINE ELFINS were seen April 6 in Salem County, along with 10 EASTERN COMMAS and 5 QUESTION MARKS. The first CABBAGE WHITES and ORANGE SULPHURS were seen this week. The spring's first RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD was seen March 30 in the Villas, but no others since! If you would like Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to nest in your yard, put out feeders, since they arrive long before our gardens bloom. Be sure to clean and refill your feeders with fresh solution at least once each week, hummingbird activity or not! CMBO's "Hessel's Hairstreak, Elfins, & Pigmy Pine" trip on Saturday, May 7 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), still has room. Call 609-861-0700, x11 to register.

If you're itching to put in a butterfly & hummingbird garden or add to one, mark your calendar and don't miss CMBO's "Annual Plant Swap and Native Plant Sale" (Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) where lots of goodies will be available. Also be sure to frequently visit the "World of Backyard Habitat" pages on NJ Audubon's website. Additions are being made regularly, including the recent update of the article "How to Create a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden" and the accompanying list of "Recommended Plantings for Hummingbirds, Butterflies, and Moths" (noting whether plants are "Native to NJ, "Native to North America (but not NJ)," or "Alien." The week's list of native plants for sale at CMBO's Center for Research & Education can also be found on these pages at: http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat

CHORUS FROGS are calling (sounding like someone running their thumb down a comb), LEOPARD FROGS are calling, and there is a deafening din of SPRING PEEPERS peeping. Warm weather brought sunning RIBBON SNAKES out on April 5.

RED CEDAR trees are full of pollen. Tap trees looking brown and see for yourself.

Mark Garland's "Birding 101" on Saturday, April 16 (10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.), still has a few spaces left. During this great way to get into bird watching, registrants will learn all about the many birding tools and resources and savor spring birds during outdoor practice time. Call 609-861-0700, x 11.

"Clapper Rail Madness" on Friday, April 15 (9-10:30 a.m.) meets at the end of Jakes Landing Road. Others are scheduled at low tide on April 22, 29, May 6, and 13.

Mark Garland's "jump start on spring" "Weekend Field Trip to Chincoteague," April 23-24, still has a few spaces. Call 609-861-0700, x11.

The ultimate spring experience is New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Spring Weekend (May 20-22, 2005). The brochure is now available (call for a copy) and a downloadable pdf version is available on the website: http://www.njaudubon.org/Centers/CMBO/SpringWeekend.html Once you've read over the brochure, direct any questions to Sheila Lego or Marleen Murgitroyde at 609-884-2736.

SHOREBIRD STEWARDS NEEDED: Red Knot need all the help they can get this spring. Numbers on the wintering grounds were frighteningly low, even lower than last winter's low numbers. The NJ Endangered & Nongame Species program welcomes volunteer SHOREBIRD STEWARDS on NJ's Delaware Bay beaches May 14-15 and May 21 to June 5. Training session in early May (TBA). Contact Larissa Smith (609-628-2103 or LLSmith@gtc3.com) for more details and to sign up.

ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDS needed at the Cape May NWR's Two Mile Beach Unit, May 26 - September 11 (30 hours/week; $200/week). Send a resume and letter of interest (by April 29) to: Cape May NWR, 24 Kimbles Beach Road, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210; 609-463-0994.

GREAT BLUE HERON COLONIES: The Endangered and Nongame Species Program is conducting a survey of Great Blue Heron colonies across New Jersey and is looking for undocumented (in the state database) colonies in Cumberland and Cape May counties. If you are aware of colonies (of any size) in this area, please contact Chris Kisiel (609-628-2103 or ckisiel@gtc3.com).

Enjoy early spring birding by attending upcoming CMBO programs:

Weekly walks (no advanced registration, $6 members, $10 for others): - Every Friday (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Higbee Beach Bird Walk" meets in the parking lot at the west end of New England Road. - Every Saturday (7:30-10:30 a.m.), "Birds of Belleplain State Forest" meets at the Belleplain State Forest Field Office, just off Rt. 550, west of Woodbine. - Every Saturday (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Spring Migrants at the Rea Farm" meets in the Beanery parking lot on Bayshore Road. - Every Saturday (6:30-8:30 p.m.) "Twilight at Higbee Beach" meets in the parking lot at the west end of New England Road. - Every Sunday (7-9 a.m.), "Birding at Stone Harbor Point," meets in the Stone Harbor Point Parking Lot. - Every Sunday (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Hidden Valley for Birds & Butterflies" meets in the small clamshell parking lot on the south side of New England Road, 0.3 miles west of the intersection with Bayshore Road. - Every Sunday (1 to 2:30 p.m.), "Birding for First Timers" meets at the North Shelter in the Cape May Point State Park. - Every Monday (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Birding With Pete Dunne" meets at 7:30 a.m. in TNC's parking lot on Sunset Boulevard. - Every Monday (5 to 7 p.m.), "Evening at Jakes Landing" meets at the end of Jakes Landing Road. - Every Tuesday (7:30 to 9:30 a.m.), "Spring at Two Mile Beach" meets in the last parking area on the left in the refuge. - Every Tuesday (6 p.m. to dusk), "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point" meets in the parking lot at the south end of Second Avenue in Stone Harbor. - Every Wednesday (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Birding Cape May Point" meets in the "South Shelter" raised pavilion at the Cape May Point State Park. - Every Wednesday (7:30-10:30 a.m.), "Birds of Peaslee WMA" meets at the Belleplain State Forest Field Office, just off Rt. 550, west of Woodbine to explore this little know fabulous spot! - Every Thursday (7:30 to 10:30 a.m.), "Birds of Belleplain State Forest" meets at the Belleplain State Forest Field Office, just off Rt. 550, west of Woodbine

Special programs and field trips in addition to those already mentioned follow (prices vary: call 609-861-0700 for info and to register): - Introduction to Spring Wildflower ID, Sunday, May 1 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) with Mark Garland - Listening to the Night, Monday, May 9 (9 to 11 p.m.) with Mark Garland and Chris Vogel - Sunset Cruises for Spring Migrants and Heron Rookeries, Wednesdays (May 11 & 18), 3 to 7 p.m.

Many other programs are scheduled for 2005; contact either CMBO Center for a copy of the spring Kestrel Express, which features the schedule, or go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

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 for which advanced registration is required. To receive a copy of the Spring Program Schedule (the Kestrel Express), stop at either CMBO Center, call the office during business hours at 609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's web site at http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.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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