CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY AND EVENTS HOTLINE, May 12, 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 Thursday, May 12. 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).
This Saturday, May 14, is New Jersey Audubon's 22nd Annual WORLD
SERIES OF BIRDING. A record 96 teams from all over the country are
participating, including 22 Youth Teams! WOW! This event, hosted by
NJ Audubon, enables groups from all over the country to raise $$$ for
their own conservation causes! 60 MINUTES is going to cover the
event, and the Associate Press has picked it up too. Good luck to all
96 teams; drive safe; and enjoy all 24 hours of the natural world on
May 14. The May 12th "Swap Meet" shared the whereabouts of many of
the hard to find birds and some not so hard to find. Bird-by-bird
this info is posted at each center and can be viewed online at the
World Series of Birding Discussion Group at:
The first big wave of nesting HORSESHOE CRABS occurred at high tide
the evening of May 10th, two nights after the New Moon. 100s to 1000s
of crabs were tallied by counters as they came up onto the Delaware
Bay beaches to lay their eggs. The next big wave should occur leading
up to, during, and just after the Full Moon, which will be Monday,
May 23. "Shorebirds & Horseshoe Crabs Galore," will be offered five
afternoons from 3-5 p.m. on May 19 (Thursday), May 25 (Wednesday),
May 26 (Thursday), May 27 (Friday), and May 28 (Saturday). This
program will begin at the CMBO Center in Goshen with a brief indoor
slide show and materials, followed by a visit to a nearby beach to
witness crabs and shorebirds. The slide show is quite historic now
with waning numbers of crabs and birds, since it includes photos of
the massive gatherings of both crabs and shorebirds in the 1980s and
early 1990s. To register call 609-861-0700, x-11.
Shorebirds are arriving and will continue to build. The big influx
often occurs during New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Spring Weekend,
this year on May 20-22. The NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program
flew both sides of the Delaware Bay on May 10 and tallied 11,925
shorebirds, mostly DUNLIN, SANDERLING, and RUDDY TURNSTONE. On May 11
observers at Bivalve in Cumberland County tallied over 11,000
shorebirds at that location alone, so many more arrived overnight.
Nummy's Island at high tide has been a super spot to view shorebirds
that are pushed off many of the surrounding marshes: RED KNOT, SHORT-
BILLED DOWITCHER, BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, DUNLIN, and WHIMBREL. High
tide at Nummy's Island will be 1 p.m. on Friday the 13th and about 1
hour later every following day (so 2 p.m. on Saturday, 3 p.m on
Sunday, etc.). An amazing flight of over 200 WHIMBREL flew over the
CMBO Center in Goshen at 8:30 p.m. on May 12, heading north.
To keep disturbance to a minimum and because RED KNOT numbers on the
wintering grounds were disturbingly low, the NJ Endangered and
Nongame Species Program will again close the Delaware Bay beaches to
foot traffic from May 14 to June 7. They will also be closing the bay
side (or back side) of Stone Harbor Point during this period, since
it is heavily utilized by roosting shorebirds. Viewing opportunities
will still be excellent from each of the road ends along the Delaware
Bay, with roping and signage so that visitors can walk to the waters
edge, but not up or down the beach. Shorebirds will quickly learn
that people remain behind the ropes and are likely to feed quite close!
A Wednesday evening "Sunset Cruise for Spring Migrants and Heron
Rookeries" on May 18 (3 to 7 p.m.) will explore inaccessible back bay
marshes where shorebirds, rails, herons, egrets, hungry raptors and
more can be enjoyed up close and personal. Mark your calendars too
for the special "Cruisin' For Chicks" trips: Thursday, June 16 (3 to
6 p.m.) and Saturday, June 18 (5 to 8 p.m.). These trips are timed to
savor the marsh nesting birds with nests full of young. To register
for the Sunset Cruise or for the Cruisin' for Chicks trips, call
609-861-0700, x11. Another opportunity to cruise through marshes is
the "Back Bay Boat Cruise" (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) every Sunday and
Monday through May. To register for the "Back Bay Boat Cruises" call
"The Skimmer" directly at 609-884-3100.
Female RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS are on nests. They've returned to
their favorite backyard habitats, set up territories, and built
nests. Once the nest is built females visit a male's territory and
mate. Then it's back to the nest to lay the eggs, incubate the eggs,
and keep herself fed and her young fed once they hatch. The male's
role is done; in fact he'll chase his own mate and young away.
Females build their nest near and within view of food. A nest was
found May 9th at the CMBO Center in Goshen within view of one of the
feeders! Be sure to thoroughly clean and refill Hummingbird feeders
at least once a week, even if full at week's end. Visit the "World of
Backyard Habitat" pages on NJ Audubon's website for extensive
information about gardening for hummingbirds (& butterflies):
CMBO's 2005 Cape May Birding Workshops are timed to learn and savor
peak concentrations. The next workshop is the "2-Day Backyard Habitat
Workshop" on Saturday and Sunday, June 25-26. Many of the other
summer workshops are held mid-week to avoid summer traffic. A "1-Day
Tern Workshop" on Wednesday, June 29, is timed when the nesting
colonies are a frenzy of activity and pull in regional rarities. A "1-
Day Butterfly Workshop" on Wednesday, August 10, will study 36
species at one location! A "2-Day Shorebird Workshop" on Tuesday and
Wednesday, August 23-24, will enjoy more than 30 species in many
plumages! To receive the workshop brochure (covering 13 workshops now
through January 05) call 609-861-0700 or go to: http:
Young GREAT HORNED OWLS, born in late January or early February, are
branching now (hopping around on branches, sometimes fairly far from
the nest). Once their flight feathers grow in, they'll fledge (be
able to fly) and be gone! That could be any day! SCREECH OWLS nest
much later and have very young downy chicks now in their hollow tree
nest sites or man-made nest boxes.
BALD EAGLETS are growing. The 2 chicks in the Bald Eagle nest at
Beaver Swamp WMA are now about 4 weeks old and quite visible when
they are awake. There is always an adult in attendance, often busy
tearing up food and feeding the chicks.
BLACK SKIMMERS stage on the Delaware Bay before returning to nesting
beaches; 27 were seen at Bivalve on May 11. GLOSSY IBIS, flock after
flock, can be enjoyed all day long as they fly over the CMBO Center
in Goshen. Many of them feed in the impoundment at Beaver Swamp WMA,
just up Sluice Creek from the Center. A pair of GREEN HERONS take
this route many times through the day as well.
OSPREY are on nests everywhere and seem to be successful catching
fish after fish in Hereford Inlet and elsewhere. 76 were counted the
length of the Maurice River on May 11. This population is entirely
due to the efforts of Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River.
Nearly every nesting platform they have erected is in use!
COMMON TERNS are back. So, no longer is every medium-sized tern a
FORSTER'S TERN. KILLDEER already have chicks.
A great landbird flights occurred the night of May 10 & 11 and the
morning of May 12, when at dawn from the Higbee Dike 350 YELLOW-
RUMPED WARBLERS, 120 BALTIMORE ORIOLES, 80 E. KINGBIRDS, and a nice
mix of other warblers were tallied. CMBO's Northwood Center has
attracted many lingering warblers all week, including today, May 13.
Belleplain State Forest has been a hotbed of activity for breeding
warblers: PROTHONOTARY, OVENBIRD, PRAIRIE, PINE, YELLOW-THROATED,
BLACK-AND-WHITE, BLACKPOLL, WORM-EATING, HOODED, BLUE-WINGED, N.
WATERTHRUSH, and more! BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER nests are being found
there too, looking like large hummingbird nests.
BEACH PLUM bushes have been in bloom for several weeks and are
beginning to fade. The dunes at Higbee Beach (walking straight out
from the parking lot) are a MUST when they're in bloom ... like a
fairyland. HIGHBUSH BLUEBERRY is in bloom. Its bell-shaped flowers
are an important spring nectar source for RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS.
FLOWERING DOGWOOD is blooming. LILACS, VIBURNUMS, and CHOKEBERRIES
are beginning to bloom. CORAL HONEYSUCKLE is in full bloom at the
CMBO Center in Goshen and razzle dazzle to our eyes and to hungry
hummingbirds. TULIP TREES are beginning to bloom and drawing in
hungry ORCHARD ORIOLES.
FALCATE ORANGETIPS are still flying (at Beaver Swamp WMA and along
the railroad tracks at Dennisville) and laying their eggs on a dainty
member of the mustard family, HAIRY BITTERCRESS. Other butterflies
enjoyed this week include: SPRING AZURE, E. TAILED BLUE, BROWN ELFIN,
HENRY'S ELFINS FROSTED ELFIN, HOARY ELFIN (in the Pine Barrens where
Bearberry grows), PINE ELFIN, PEARL CRESCENT, AMERICAN COPPER, E.
COMMA, MOURNING CLOAK, JUVENAL'S DUSKYWING, SLEEPY DUSKYWING (in the
Pine Barrens), COBWEB SKIPPER, and WHITE M HAIRSTREAK (on May 9 in
Salem County). HESSEL'S HAIRSTREAKS are flying now, but very
illusive. One was seen May 5 nectaring on Sand Myrtle along the
Atlantic City Expressway, and another on May 11 at Chatsworth, also
nectaring on Sand Myrtle. AMERICAN LADIES are filtering into the area
and laying their eggs. The first OLIVE' JUNIPER HAIRSTREAKS were
seen May 7 at Reeds Beach, while 8 were nectaring on CHOKEBERRY
blossoms along the Heislerville dike on May 11. The first BLACK
SWALLOWTAIL was seen May 5 at Stone Harbor Point and on May 12 a
female was in CMBO's gardens actively seeking fennel and laying eggs.
The first TIGER SWALLOWTAIL was seen May 12 along the Delaware River
near Petty's Island.
HARLEQUIN DARNERS, MANTLED BASKETTAILS, and BLUE CORPORALS are flying
now along the sand roads of Belleplain, and a male GREEN DARNER
patrolled CMBO's Dragonfly Pond at the Center in Goshen on May 12.
LARGE BEE FLIES are out. A massive BULLFROG has emerged from the
bottom of CMBO's Dragonfly Pond and can be found along the pond edge,
along with Leopard Frogs.
Spring has FLOODED into every nook and cranny of Cape May County. A
din of songsters on territory adds an auditory bonus to any outing!
Belleplain State Forest, hotspots in Cumberland County, and sites
around Cape May abound with singing warblers, vireos, flycatchers,
cuckoos, and other goodies! And the trees have not fully leafed out
yet, so observers are savoring good looks. Attend one or all of
CMBO's 17+ different weekly spring walks, requiring no
preregistration. For details on each walk, go to:
THE ultimate spring experience, NJ Audubon's Cape May Spring Weekend
(May 20-22, 2005) is coming up! Call for the brochure (609-884-2736)
or print the downloadable pdf version from the website:
Once you've read over the brochure, direct any questions to Sheila
Lego or Marleen Murgitroyde at 609-884-2736
Volunteer opportunities follow. SHOREBIRD STEWARDS are NEEDED:
Wintering numbers of Red Knot were even lower than last winter's low
numbers. The NJ Endangered & Nongame Species program is looking for
volunteer SHOREBIRD STEWARDS to cover NJ's Delaware Bay beaches May
14-15 and May 21 to June 5. Contact Larissa Smith (609-628-2103 or
LLSmith@gtc3.com) for more details and to sign up.
Special programs and field trips in addition to those already
mentioned follow (prices vary: call 609-861-0700 for info and to
"Cruisin' For Chicks at Sunset," Th., June 16 (3 to 6 p.m.), and
Sat., June 18 (5 to 8 p.m.).
"Drawing With Nature" (Saturdays: May 28, June 25, July 30, Aug. 27).
"Dragons & Damsels in CMBO's Gardens," Saturday, June 18 (10 a.m. to
Kayak Trips to Wild Areas Great Cedar Swamp (Tu., June 21),
Bidwell's Creek (Th., July 7), East Creek Lake and Pickle Factory
Pond (Tu., July 26, and Tu., Aug. 16).
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. All
are detailed in the Kestrel Express. The summer edition is now
available too. To receive a copy stop at either CMBO Center, call the
office during business hours at 609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey
Audubon's web site:
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!