You have reached the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a
service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This
message was prepared on Thursday, May 15. 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" at the top of any page.
It is the eve of New Jersey Audubon "Cape May Spring Weekend," an
amazing three-day weekend (May 16, 17, & 18) of talks, field trips, boat
rides, and general celebration of nature in spring. Evening keynote
talks by Pete Dunne and Kenn Kaufmann. There may still be room for you
at this grand festival; call the Northwood Center at (609) 884-2736 for
more information or to register. For a rough idea of the weekend
schedule go to:
Friday, May 16, is the FULL MOON in the middle of May, THE time when we
expect the peak of horseshoe crab egg-laying and related shorebird
feeding frenzies during the high tides triggered by the full moon. The
NEW MOON on May 31 and the week leading up to the especially high tide
triggered by the new moon should also be PEEK for horseshoe crab
egg-laying & shorebird concentrations. Numbers of HORSESHOE CRABS on
Delaware Bay beaches have been frighteningly low so far with only 12
counted from Kimbel's Beach, Cook's Beach, and Thompson's Beach on May
14. The water temperatures are still cold; 53 degrees F. on May 14,
when they should be about 60 degrees F, so this may be holding the crabs
up a bit from breeding. But the shorebirds can't wait & are arriving.
On CMBO's first "Shorebirds & Horseshoe Crabs Galore" program on May 15
several hundred RUDDY TURNSTONES, 50 SANDERLING, 20 DUNLIN, and 1 RED
KNOT were feeding on crab eggs at the tideline at Reeds Beach. And
earlier in the day observers reported numbers of RED KNOT. Shorebird
numbers will continue to grow with each tide and with each day.
"Shorebirds & Horseshoe Crabs Galore" will also be offered from 3:00 to
5:00 p.m. on May 22, 23, & 24. "A Close Look at Shorebirds" (2:00 to
5:00 p.m.) on May 21 and "Horseshoe Crabs Up Close and Personal," with
marine biologist Karen Williams, (9:00 a.m. to noon) on May 31 also
still have openings. Call (609) 861-0700 x-11 to register.
Severe conservation measures have been taken this spring because
HORSESHOE CRAB numbers have dropped so drastically and because shorebird
numbers have dropped along with them. There is now access restrictions
to many beaches where crabs & shorebirds are active, but there will
still be great viewing opportunities -- without disturbing the birds.
Viewing areas are roped off at many of the access points along the
Delaware Bayshore and the shorebirds are gathering just beyond (offering
great viewing opportunities). Beach access (walking and other
activities) is being restricted through signage. This spring the
Horseshoe Crab harvest has been closed between May 1 and June 7 and has
been capped at 150,000 (half the number taken in 2002). New Jersey
Audubon's current involvement, needing your help in a letter-writing
campaign, can be found at:
The 20th Annual WORLD SERIES OF BIRDING (May 10th) included a record 73
teams, including 13 enthusiastic youth teams. The day was stellar,
birdy from north to south. Results were incredible:
On the butterfly front, lots of RED ADMIRALS were seen on May 12,
including 50 around Cape May Point (many nectaring on Beach Plum bushes
in full flower and others flitting this way and that) and dozens dashing
across roads by observers traveling on Rt. 47, Rt. 347, and along the
Maurice River. This represents an obvious movement of new arrivals from
the south. Reports have come in daily since of individual Red Admirals
in gardens and natural areas all over the Cape May Peninsula. The
weekly CMBO "Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk" with Pat Sutton along the
Dennisville RR tracks on Wednesday, May 14, enjoyed a number of the
spring specialities, including the spring's first FROSTED ELFINS (2) and
COBWEB SKIPPERS (5), along with TIGER SWALLOWTAILS (all "on the move"),
HENRY'S ELFINS, E. PINE ELFINS, PEARL CRESCENTS, SILVER-SPOTTED SKIPPER,
and lots of JUVENAL'S DUSKYWINGS. FALCATE ORANGETIPS are still flying,
another spring speciality.
On the dragonfly front, lots of BLUE CORPORALS and MANTLED BASKETTAILS
are flying and COMMON GREEN DARNERS have just begun to fly. FRAGILE
FORKTAILS are flying now too. CMBO's dragonfly pond in Goshen has been
an overwintering nursery for many dragonflies; their shed skins are in
evidence. New species should be emerging on every warm and sunny day.
"Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk" with Pat Sutton along the Dennisville RR
tracks is offered every Wednesday in May (10:00 a.m. to Noon). Enjoy
butterflies and all other elements of natural history with Mark Garland
during "The Nature of Cape May," an outing every Thursday at 9:00 a.m.
at the Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area. A "Dragonfly Workshop &
Walk" will be held on Saturday, June 7, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Call (609) 861-0700 x-11 to register.
The Maurice River BALD EAGLE NEST that many observed during CMBO's "Bald
Eagle Cruises on the Maurice River" in late March and early April has
again been successful! On May 12, the NJ Endangered and Nongame Species
Program banded the eaglet from this nest, a 4 week old youngster. 38
pairs of BALD EAGLES were active in New Jersey in March. Sadly a number
of these pairs either did not nest or their nest failed. 23 pairs are
still active with growing young, and some young are almost two months
old now. By mid-June they will be ready to fly. One new nest is deep
within Beaver Swamp WMA, just up Sluice Creek from the Cape May Bird
Observatory's Center in Goshen. Keen observers spot one of the adults
from this nest almost daily as it flies down Sluice Creek and over CMBO
on its way out to the Delaware Bay.
On May 15 immature BALD EAGLES were seen at a number of locations around
the Cape May Peninsula, too early for any of NJ's young to be flying,
but not for young eagles born earlier this spring in Florida. The first
4 years of an eagle's life, they wander, and that's probably just what
we witnessed on May 15.
The first young OSPREY have hatched on one of the Maurice River nests,
but all other pairs on the river were still on eggs on May 11, according
to Jane Galetto.
Mid-May migration is in full steam, plus our nesting birds are very much
in evidence, vocal and actively defending nest sites. Join one of the
"CMBO walks at Belleplain State Forest" for a chance to see the breeding
warblers: YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, PINE WARBLER, PRAIRIE WARBLER,
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER, HOODED WARBLER, WORM-EATING WARBLER, YELLOW
WARBLER, BLUE-WINGED WARBLER, OVENBIRD, LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH, and other
goodies, like SUMMER TANAGER. These walks begin at 7:30 a.m. every
Thursday in May plus some Saturdays (May 24 and 31).
PROTHONOTARY WARBLERS are breeding at the Rea Farm. Be sure to attend
"Spring Migrants at the Rea Farm" Saturday, May 24, (7:30-9:30 a.m.) if
you've struggled to see them.
PIPING PLOVERS are on nests and AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS are paired up
now at the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge and at Stone Harbor Point! A
number of YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS (7 on May 10) continue to be seen
easily in the marshes on the east side of Ocean Drive just south of
Stone Harbor and just before the "free" bridge onto Nummy's Island. And
Nummy's Island is loaded with SHOREBIRDS right now (RED KNOT, DUNLIN,
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, DOWITCHER, and more), especially towards evening,
since many of them roost on these marshes through the night. A great way
to learn the area and see all it holds is to join Mike Fritz and company
for the "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point & Nummy's Island" every
Tuesday through June 10 (6 p.m. to dusk).
At the Cape May Bird Observatory Center in Goshen PURPLE MARTINS and
TREE SWALLOWS are showing interest in nest boxes and RUBY-THROATED
HUMMINGBIRDS are daily at the feeders and in the gardens. In bloom at
CMBO now to lure them in is: CORAL HONEYSUCKLE, CORAL BELLS, WILD
COLUMBINE, and lots of wildflowers (that some mistake as weeds). Male
Ruby-throats arrived first but females are back in force now. Be
looking for the male's display flight, a dramatic "pendulum swing." He
performs it right over the female. Be sure to keep your feeders clean,
by thoroughly washing & refilling at least once a week, even if use is
CLAPPER RAILS continue to be seen easily at places like Jakes Landing.
On the saltmarsh at Jakes Landing OSPREY, WILLETS, FORSTER'S TERNS,
SEASIDE SPARROWS, MEADOWLARKS in full song, and a wandering immature
BALD EAGLE on May 14. Along the wooded portion of Jakes Landing Road
bird songs include GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO,
WHITE-EYED VIREO, WOOD THRUSH, PINE WARBLER, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER.
It's a great place to learn songs, and you can learn them under the
tutelage of Pat Sutton on her "Birding by Ear Walk" each Wednesday in
May from 7:30-9:30 a.m.
"Back Bay Birding By Boat" cruises, every Sunday and Monday (10 a.m. to
1 p.m.), offer comfortable and close looks at shorebirds, herons,
egrets, Ospreys, and maybe even a rail or two as the boat travels
through the saltmarsh and back bays (call Wildlife Unlimited, call
609-884-3100 to register for these CMBO-sponsored trips). A special
"Cruisin' for Chicks" trip is scheduled Saturday, June 14, from 5 to 8
p.m. -- peak time to see newly hatched FORSTER'S TERNS, AMERICAN
OYSTERCATCHERS, CLAPPER RAILS, LAUGHING GULLS, OSPREY, and more! Sign
up by calling (609) 861-0700, x-11.
Trees are fully leafed out now. VIBURNUMS, HIGHBUSH BLUEBERRY, and
HUCKLEBERRY are blooming now. WILD CHERRY trees are just beginning and
will steal the show in another week. BEACH PLUM is waning, but can
still be enjoyed in the dunes at Higbee Beach. Keep an eye out on the
Beach Plum blossoms for JUNIPER HAIRSTREAKS and other nectaring
butterflies. Learn how to identify wildflowers at the CMBO
"Introduction to Wildflower Identification" program on Saturday, June
14. Call (609) 861-0700, x-11, to register. PINE POLLEN, a dense
yellow dusting, is covering everything every day now. Flocks of GLOSSY
IBIS, GREAT EGRETS, and SNOWY EGRETS are regular now passing back and
forth over the Cape May Peninsula. CATTLE EGRETS are strutting around
in unmowed fields eating bugs and even along the weedy edges of the
Garden State Parkway..
If you'd like to learn as you help CMBO maintain its gardens in Goshen,
join Karen Williams Friday, May 23 (9:30 a.m.-Noon) for a "Garden
Maintenance Workshop." Plant divisions are often delightful payment for
your labor and having a chance to learn so much from Karen as you work.
Additional regularly scheduled walks that require no preregistration and
will help you witness spring unfolding include: "Higbee Beach Bird Walk"
Friday, May 23, (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Raptors and Songbirds of Delaware
Bayshore" Sunday, May 25 (8-10 a.m.), "Birding for First Timers" Sunday,
May 25 (1-3 p.m.), "Mondays at the Meadows" every Monday (7:30-9:30
a.m.), "Leader's Choice Bird Walk" every Tuesday (7:30-9:30 a.m.),
"Birding Cape May Point" every Wednesday (7:30-9:30 a.m.). Full
details about cost & meeting place can be found at NJ Audubon's web
http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html -- LOOK for the link to
SPRING 2003 for details on these spring programs.
CMBO's full listing of SUMMER 2003 PROGAMS (June-August) is now posted
on New Jersey Audubon's web site at
http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html If you are not a member
and would like to receive a copy of the Cape May Bird Observatory's
program schedule, call (609) 861-0700.
The Cape May Bird Observatory offers an extensive series of regular bird
and butterfly walks that require no pre-registration and many special
field trips and programs for which advanced registration is required.
To receive a copy of our Program Schedule, stop at one of our centers,
call the office during business hours at 609-861-0700, or go to New
Jersey Audubon's web site mentioned above.
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 around Cape May County, and also
include reports from Cumberland and Atlantic Counties. Updates are
typically made on Thursdays. Natural history sightings can be written
on sighting sheets at either CMBO center or called in to 609-861-0700.
Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!
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)