Cape May Natural History Hotline - 4/8/2006

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 Thursday, April 8. New Jersey Audubon's three hotlines can be read in full on our website (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on "Sightings" (at the top of any page).

Please read to the end of this hotline to learn how you can help (1) Halt the Harvest & Save the Red Knot from Extinction and (2) with the Annual Beach Nesting Bird Fencing Days

The NJ Endangered & Nongame Species Program shares that there are at least 55 pairs of information BALD EAGLES in New Jersey this spring. Sadly, 3 nests have failed and those adults are no longer incubating, though often still seen near the nest. One of the failed nests is the Beaver Swamp WMA nest just up Sluice Creek from the CMBO Center in Goshen. The first chicks hatched on March 8th and as of March 31, 19 pairs are feeding newly hatched chicks.

According to http://www.hummingbirds.net the first RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD was seen in New Jersey (and at Cape May) on April 5, in Delaware on April 6, and in Maryland on April 1. They're all over eastern Virginia, North Carolina and south and west of North Carolina. So, it's time to hang your feeders! Remember that hummingbirds are moving north as flowers bloom and insects are available. A cold snap could be disastrous for them. FLOWERING QUINCE is in bloom, a shrub with red tubular flowers. When that blooms, I know hummingbirds aren't far behind! Feeders are the key if you hope to attract breeding hummingbirds, since so little is in bloom in our gardens this time of year. If you do hang feeders, be sure to maintain them: clean thoroughly and refill with fresh solution at least once a week when it's cool, and every 3 or so days once hot weather hits. If you'd like to garden for hummingbirds (and butterflies), NJ Audubon's "World of Backyard Habitat" pages on our website shares TONS of helpful information, including full details on Plant Sales and Swaps for "Wildlife Habitats" and learning opportunities: http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat/Splash.html

TREE SWALLOWS were hunting insects at CMBO's meadow in Goshen on April 6. The first PURPLE MARTINS were seen at Cape May Point on April 2 and at Goshen Landing on April 5. They are all over eastern PA and NJ. Monitor their progress north at: http://purplemartin.org/scoutreport

GREAT HORNED OWLS are the earliest nesting bird, having laid eggs in late January. Right now they are feeding growing chicks. A very visible nest at the John Heinz NWR in the Philadelphia area has been a highlight on organized bird walks.

On April 2, during a warm spring day, visitors to the jetty at Barnegat Light State Park enjoyed the following winter birds: 30+ HARLEQUIN DUCKS, a COMMON EIDER, PURPLE SANDPIPERS, and other goodies.

CMBO's spring walks have begun, a different hotspot every day - sometimes 2-3 walks each day. For details go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html On the April 1, "Birds of Belleplain State Forest" walk (offered every Saturday & Thursday morning, 7:30-10:30 a.m.), E. PHOEBES were singing and working on nests, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLERS were singing, a LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH was seen and heard, OSPREY were calling and circling overhead, a din of PINE WARBLERS were heard, and 2 male WILD TURKEYS were strutting and displaying for a gathering of females. The April 1 Saturday morning, "Spring Migrants at the Rea Farm" walk enjoyed RUSTY BLACKBIRDS, TREE SWALLOWS, E. PHOEBES, WILSON'S SNIPE, and 17 LAUGHING GULLS. WHIP-POOR-WILLS were at Jakes Landing on April 2. The April 2 Sunday morning "Hidden Valley Walk" encountered dozens of BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS. The Tuesday morning April 4 "Spring at Two Mile Beach"

walk enjoyed PURPLE MARTIN, AMERICAN KESTREL (no doubt a migrant), and E. PHOEBES. And today, April 8, a YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO was seen in Goshen a full 10 days ahead of schedule according to Sibley's Birds of Cape May.

On March 31, the Great Egg Harbor River area (including the Corbin City impoundments and the Tuckahoe WMA impoundments) held 15 GREAT EGRETS, 6 SNOWY EGRETS, 1 LITTLE BLUE HERON, 2 GLOSSY IBIS, 700+ GREEN-WINGED TEAL, GADWALL, AM. WIGEON, BLUE-WINGED TEAL, N. SHOVELER, SCAUP, LONG-TAILED DUCKS, 50 OSPREY, 22 LAUGHING GULL, N. ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, and an adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL. OSPREYS are back in force, many have returned to their nests.

The first CATTLE EGRET was seen at the Cape May Point State Park on April 5 and a flock was near Pleasantville on April 6. 10 YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS were in Avalon on April 3 off Dune Drive, between 44th and 46th Streets.

PIPING PLOVERS are back on the beaches. 3 were seen at the Cape May Point State Park on April 7, and 5 at TNC's Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge on April 3. If you'd like to help the NJ Fish and Wildlife's Endangered & Nongame Species Program with their Sat., April 15th, Beach Nesting Bird Fencing Day at Barnegat Light at 10am, contact Christina Kisiel, 609-628-1919 or ckisiel@gtc3.com. Only a few hours of mildly strenuous work are required (pounding posts, placing rope and signage). Fencing will protect nesting habitat for Piping Plovers, Least Terns and Black Skimmers.

Flocks of CEDAR WAXWINGS are exploring woodlands for food. A flock covered the trees at CMBO's Northwood Center on April 6. A flock came to a yard in Rio Grande and feasted on Crab Apples on April 1 and returned on April 2 to feast on American Holly berries.

RED-THROATED LOONS stage / gather at the mouth of the Delaware Bay each spring in the vicinity of the Concrete Ship. That is happening right now! Also, be sure to check out any cormorant perched on the Concrete Ship since it could very well be a GREAT CORMORANT. CMBO's "Cruisin' For Loons" on Saturday, April 22 (1-5:30 p.m.) is timed for a stellar loon adventure, with 7 spaces left. Call 609-861-0700, x-16 to register or for more information.

The recent warm weather was conducive to butterfly watching, since it triggered many to emerge and many to fly. On March 31 in the Great Egg Harbor area, 200 SPRING AZURES were seen, nearly all "Blueberry" Azures (the very early spring flyer) and a few "Holly" Azures. Also seen there were 3 HENRY'S ELFINS (all newly emerged), 17 MOURNING CLOAKS, 6 E. COMMA, 10 QUESTION MARKS, and 2 ORANGE SULPHURS, as well as lots of frogs and turtles, including a chorus of WOOD FROGS, a few SPRING PEEPERS, RED-BELLIED TURTLE, 10 SPOTTED TURTLE, PAINTED TURTLE, MUD TURTLE, and a SNAPPING TURTLE. A JUVENILE'S DUSKYWING was seen March 31 at Tarkiln Pond. By April 1 SPRING PEEPERS were not just giving a solitary peep now and then, but a steady din could be heard. An AMERICAN SNOUT was seen in Port Norris on April 2 laying eggs on the buds of a HACKBERRY tree, as well as 3 Azure species (5 SUMMER AZURES, 10 C. lucia, and 1 C. idella). A GRAY HAIRSTREAK was seen in Heislerville on April 2, and an E. TAILED BLUE in Goshen on April 7. CABBAGE WHITES and SULPHURS are being seen quite a bit. 2 CORPORAL SKIMMERS, the first of our dragonflies, were seen in Port Republic on April 2.

MONARCHS began leaving their overwintering sites in the mountains of Mexico in late February. They arrived on the Gulf Coast and laid eggs on Milkweed. Those eggs hatched and growing caterpillars metamorphosed into chrysalids and will soon become the first generation of Monarchs of the spring, and will journey further north. SWAMP MILKWEED is just beginning to peek through the ground. Believe it or not, northbound Monarchs will be looking for these tiny shoots in your gardens to lay their eggs on. CMBO has TROPICAL MILKWEED seeds for sale at the Center in Goshen. Stop by & get your garden ready for this year's Monarchs.

BRADFORD PEAR trees are in bloom all over yards and city streets with their showy white flowers. Ornamental PLUMS and Japanese CHERRY trees are also in bloom with their showy pink flowers. SALTMARSHES are still winter-brown. PENNSYLVANIA BITTERCRESS, MUSTARD, PURPLE DEAD-NETTLE, CHICKWEED, and DANDELION are all blooming in our yards, and sought after by nectaring butterflies. Wild Mustard is blooming in farm fields.

Halt the Harvest - Save the Red Knot from Extinction Your help is urgently needed to ensure the survival of Red Knot. Please take action by showing your strong support for NJ Department of Environmental Protection's proposed moratorium on the horseshoe crab commercial bait fishery for the calendar years 2006 and 2007. http://ga1.org/njaudubon/home.html

The CMBO Art Gallery's spring show, "Wings and Migration," will run through June 11. Stunning paintings of dragonflies, butterflies, and birds adorn the walls of the classroom. Stop by the CMBO Center in Goshen, open daily 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and be dazzled!

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 requiring advanced registration. All are detailed in the spring program schedule, the Kestrel Express. To get a copy (1) stop by either CMBO Center (open DAILY 9-4:30), (2) call during business hours (609-861-0700) and we'll mail it to you, (3) or go to New Jersey Audubon's web site: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

A few of the upcoming programs are detailed below. ** Call 609-861-0700, x-11, for more information or to register for the following programs.

"Swamp Pinks and Burden Hill" on Wednesday, April 12 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) with Steve Eisenhauer, assistant director of stewardship and land protection with the Natural Lands Trust, and Pat Sutton. Swamp Pink, a wild lily that is an endangered plant in NJ, will be in full bloom. Burden Hill, in Quinton Township, Salem County, is one of the Natural Lands Trust's newest preserves. 7 spaces left. **

"Sunset Cruise for Spring Migrants and Heron Rookeries" on Wednesday, May 10 (3 to 7 p.m.) aboard the Skimmer with Captain Bob & Linda Carlough and CMBO Naturalists.**

"Sunset Cruise for Spring Migrants and Heron Rookeries" on Wednesday, May 17 (3 to 7 p.m.) aboard the Skimmer with Captain Bob & Linda Carlough and CMBO Naturalists. **

"Cape May Century Run Team" on Saturday, May 13 (5 a.m. to 9 p.m.) - Be on one of the World Series of Birding official teams along with a host of excellent leaders, led by Team Captain Pat Sutton. Bird leisurely all day and travel in the comfort of a Comfort Coach! 8 spaces left. **

As part of CMBO's 2006 Cape May Birding Workshops Michael O'Brien will teach a "2-Day Birding by Ear Workshop," Thursday and Friday, May 4-5, 2006. 6 spaces left! Louise Zemaitis & Michael O'Brien will teach a 2nd "2-Day Warbler Workshop," Monday and Tuesday, May 8-9, since the first is FULL. Mark Garland will teach a 2nd "3-Day Spring Migration Workshop," Tuesday through Thursday, May 16-18, since the first is FULL. Both have room! To register, call 609-861-0700, x-11. To learn more about these "2006 Cape May Birding Workshops" go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks06.html

NJ Audubon's "Cape May Spring Weekend" is set for May 19-21, 2006. Brochures have been sent to members. To download a brochure, go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Centers/CMBO/SpringWeekend.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!

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 AT njaudubon.org

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