Cape May Natural History Hotline - 5/16/2002
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, May 16. The Cape May Birding Hotline has moved to 609-898-BIRD (sorry for any inconvenience). NJ Audubon's three hotlines can be read in full on NJ Audubon's web site (http://www.njaudubon.org) by clicking on "Sightings" at the top of any page. Now on with the hotline!

NJ Audubon's 19th Annual World Series of Birding on May 11 had a record number of teams and incredible weather with an astounding fallout of birds ... the best in 10 years, some say. Many teams beat their old records. The trees literally dripped with warblers, vireos, thrushes, and more! The fallout was widespread, so perhaps many of you enjoyed it no matter where you were. 266 species were seen by all 67 teams. Five teams had over 200 species, 5 teams had over 190, and many teams had a stellar, stellar day outdoors. The winning team was the Swarovski sponsored Cornell Lab team with 224 species, next came the Nikon sponsored DVOC team with 222 species, next was the Zeiss sponsored Sherman-Hoffman/CMBO Team (with Pete Dunne, et. al.) with 215 species, next came the Questar sponsored "Roadrunners" team with 204 species, next came the Swift sponsored Lloyd Center Team with 201 species.

HORSESHOE CRAB news: Much earlier than most years (April 16) thousands of Horseshoe Crabs came ashore to mate & lay their eggs along the Delaware Bay beaches. The next day hundreds were found on the beach at Fortescue in Cumberland County & thousands at Highs Beach in Cape May County. With the New Moon on May 16 Horseshoe Crabs have begun mating in earnest again and will continue to do so through all of June, so it is something that can be witnessed for quite a long stretch. Peak activity usually occurs from the middle of May through early June, especially during the high tides around the new moon (May 12) and the full moon (May 26). Red Knot, Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderling, and Dunlin are all in thick & might be found feeding on Horseshoe Crab eggs in the tideline along the Delaware Bay shoreline. Thousands of LAUGHING GULLS cover the tideline along the Delaware Bay shoreline these days, all feeding on Horseshoe Crab eggs. The Laughing Gulls are so thick on some beaches that one wonders if shorebirds can also feed. In addition to our Cape May Spring Weekend (http://www.njaudubon.org/centers/cmbo/springweekend.html), CMBO has many special programs scheduled to witness this incredible happening: "Shorebirds & Horseshoe Crabs Galore" on May 23 (also on May 24 & 25), "Horseshoe Crabs Up Close" on May 20, "A Close Look at Shorebirds" on May 22 (and again on May 26). Call CMBO at 609-861-0700, x-11, to register.

Nummy's Island has been stellar at high tide to enjoy shorebirds: Whimbrel, Red Knot, Dunlin, Black-bellied Plover, Short-billed Dowitcher were all there thick at 5 p.m. on May 11. And a hungry Merlin delighted in putting them all up.

Beaver Swamp WMA, just north of the CMBO center in Goshen (and on CMBO's Birding Map) on May 11 had the usual goodies: Gull-billed Terns and Wood Ducks, plus an adult Bald Eagle at 7 p.m. Prothonotary Warblers breed there too.

The Concrete Ship still held Purple Sandpipers on May 11.

The SWAINSON'S WARBLER, discovered May 1 during CMBO'S "Birding by Ear Walk" continues at Jakes Landing Road in the Mountain Laurel thicket just before the first pine stand on the left. The bird frequents both sides of the road & his distinctive song helps one know where to look. The Sibley Guide describes the song well: "song of strong, clear, slurred notes ?seew seew seee SISTerville' (downslurred notes at beginning with emphatic ending)." It has been brought to CMBO's attention that some observers are using tapes to draw in the Swainson's Warbler. Please DO NOT use tapes on the Swainson's Warbler -- tapes are inappropriate, since their use may drive the bird away and make it unavailable to other birders. The bird has been and can be heard easily without tapes and with a little patience. First discovered on May 1, it has been heard daily since. We ask all birders to help us police this situation and speak up if you should see someone using tapes on this bird. Thank you!

CMBO's popular 5-day Spring Migration Workshop (Monday, May 20, through Friday, May 24), led by Pete Dunne, Louise Zemaitis, and Clay Sutton, begins Monday & still has room. Call CMBO at 609-861-0700, x-16, to register or to get a copy of the 2002 "Birding (and Butterfly & Natural History) Workshops for Beginners, Intermediates, and Experts Alike" brochure. This year's selection includes 6 Classic 4- & 5-Day Workshops and 4 Bullet 2-Day Workshops.

Migration is in full swing PLUS many of the breeding birds are on territory or building nests or already feeding young. And MANY birds that wintered here are still being enjoyed. What a terrific mix of seasons. CMBO's many walks and field trips are in experiencing the spring to the fullest and triggering some excellent sightings. What follows is a snapshot of some of the goodies seen on CMBO's various walks or field trips.

CMBO's "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point & Nummy's Island Walk," offered EVERY Tuesday, now through June 11, from 6 p.m. to dusk, meets in the Stone Harbor Point parking lot. On May 11 this site enjoyed Black Skimmers, Seaside Sparrow, Royal Terns, Purple Sandpipers, Whimbrel, Bonapart's Gull, Piping Plover, Gannets, Red Knot, Oystercatcher on nests, Merlin, Yellow-crowned Night heron, dozens of Black-crowneds Night Herons, Tricolored Heron, Brant, 12 species of shorebirds, and had great fun.

If you are struggling to sort out bird song, join CMBO's "Birding by Ear Walk" EVERY Wednesday, now through May 29 (7:30-9:30 a.m.) meeting at the end of Jakes Landing Road. On May 15 this walk enjoyed lots of fun listens & some looks at Brown Thrasher, Wood Thrush, Yellow-throated & Prairie Warbler, Swainson's Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Seaside Sparrow, Willet, N. Harrier, Osprey, Clapper Rail, and more! This year at Jakes Landing there are 2 pairs of nesting Ospreys, both building their nests right now -- one out towards the Delaware Bay and the second pair can't decide and is building a nest in both platforms next to Jakes Landing Road.

The Belleplain State Forest walks are enjoying all the speciality breeding birds: YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, PINE WARBLER, PRAIRIE, BLACK-AND-WHITE, BLUE-WINGED WARBLERS, WORM-EATING, HOODED WARBLERS, PROTHONOTARY, and YELLOW WARBLERS, COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, OVENBIRDS, LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH, ACADIAN FLYCATCHERS, SUMMER TANAGERS, SCARLET TANAGERS, E. PHOEBES, WHITE-EYED VIREOS, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS, and GREAT-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS. Explore this forest with CMBO naturalists (who know it intimately) EVERY Thursday (thru May 30) and Saturday May 4 & May 25 on CMBO's "Birds of the Deep South in Belleplain State Forest" (7:30-10:30 a.m.). Walk meets at Belleplain State Forest Field Office, just off Rt. 550, west of Woodbine.

CMBO's next "Hidden Valley for Birds and Butterflies" walk will be offered Sunday, May 26, 7-9 a.m. meeting in the small clamshell parking lot on New England Road. On May 11, this walk enjoyed Blue Grosbeak, Bobolink, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Buntings, and more!

CMBO's "Birds of Higbee Beach," EVERY Friday, now through May 31 (except May 17), from 7:30-9:30 a.m., meets at Higbee Beach WMA parking lot at the west end of New England Road. Many of the fun breeders are back here too:YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, INDIGO BUNTING, BLUE GROSBEAK, and more!

PROTHONOTARY and YELLOW WARBLERS, WHITE-EYED VIREOS, RUSTY BLACKBIRDS and more have been enjoyed during CMBO's "Spring Migrants of the Rea Farm walk," offered EVERY Saturday, now thru June 8 (except May 11 & 18), from 7:30-9:30 a.m., meeting in the "The Beanery / Rea Farm" parking lot on Bayshore Road (not the produce stand on Stevens Street).

The Nature Conservancy's Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge (also known as the South Cape May Meadows) is always a hotspot. Some of this week's highlights include: American & Least Bittern, American Wigeon, Blue-winged Teal, Ruddy Duck, American Coot, Sora & Virginia Rail, Royal and Gull-billed Tern, Piping Plover. Join Pete Dunne or CMBO Associate Naturalists when Pete is traveling, EVERY Monday (thru June 24) for CMBO's "Birding with Pete Dunne walk," from 7:30-9:30 a.m., meeting at The Nature Conservancy's refuge parking lot on Sunset Boulevard to enjoy this area.

SEASIDE SPARROWS, often hard to see, are in full song now at places like Goshen Landing, Jakes Landing, and on up the Delaware Bayshore. Learn their call, and put some time in trying to see the singing male. CLAPPER RAILS, WILLETS, and FORSTER'S TERNS are also thick in these bayshore habitats and might be enjoyed along with YELLOW-THROATED WARBLERS, N. HARRIER on territory, breeding E. BLUEBIRDS, and more on CMBO's "Raptors & Songbirds of the Delaware Bayshore walk, offered EVERY Sunday, now thru May 26 (except May 12 & 19), from 8-10 a.m., meeting at the CMBO Center for Research & Education, 600 Route 47 North, in Goshen.

BALD EAGLES, our second earliest nesting bird, have nearly full grown young right now! In New Jersey, 23 pairs are busy with young. One of the most easily viewed nests in the state is at Stow Creek, in northwestern Cumberland County on the border of Salem County. This pair began incubating February 23 and their young hatched on April 4. Be sure to visit this nest now through June when the young begin to test their wings. A viewing platform on Route 623, just north of Stow Creek, offers an excellent view.

CMBO's center in Goshen has E. Bluebirds on eggs (behind the building), Tree Swallows building a nest (to the left of the building), Barn Swallows building a nest (over the plant sale area), Purple Martins in the gourds behind the building, and lots of Ruby-throated Hummingbird activity at the feeders, the blooming Coral Honeysuckle, Coral Bells, and Wild Columbine in the gardens! Males have been seen displaying (doing the "pendulum swing") over females at CMBO and elsewhere this week!

Hopefully your hummingbird feeders are hung, since breeders are already back & males have been vigorously defending territories for some time. Our gardens are not in bloom yet, so feeders are the key now in early spring if you hope to attract nesting hummingbirds. Stop by CMBO to see our full selection of easy-to-maintain feeders and to get CMBO's handout on hummingbird feeder directions and maintenance -- be sure to clean your feeders out thoroughly at least once each week, even if they are still full. Coupling a feeder with habitat and gardens is the key. If you are new to gardening for hummingbirds & butterflies, be sure to read "How to Create a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden," by Pat Sutton, posted on NJ Audubon's web site at: http://www.njaudubon.org/NatureNotes/Garden.html If you are new to gardening for wildlife in general, be sure to read Karen Williams excellent article "A Dozen ?Must Have' Plants for Backyard Habitats" by going to NJ Audubon's web site at: http://www.njaudubon.org/NatureNotes/dozen.html

On the butterfly front, each day's warmth is increasing the diversity. Some of the speciality spring butterflies (like the elfins and Cobweb Skippers) are thinning out. 2 Pine Elfins that were seen on May 15 on Old Robbins Trail (off Jakes Landing) were quite worn. Brown and Hoary Elfins were still flying in the Pine Barrens at Warren Grove on May 10. And Henry's & Pine Elfin were seen May 11 on the upper Maurice River. Swallowtails "on the fly" have been enjoyed this week ... dashing down sandy roads: Black, Spicebush, and Tiger Swallowtail. And Black Swallowtail eggs are all over Bronze Fennel in CMBO's gardens in Goshen. A SLEEPY ORANGE was discovered on May 11 on Old Robbins Trail (off Jakes Landing Road). This is the 2nd Sleepy Orange this spring, a rare southern vagrant in Cape May County. Brushfoots this week include; Variegated Fritillary, Pearl Crescent, Question Mark, Mourning Cloak, American Lady, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Common Buckeye, and Red-spotted Purple. A small butterfly migration was noticed May 8 involving several ladies, anglewings, and a Red Admiral. And on the skipper front, Silver-spotted Skipper, duskywings, Common Sootywing, Cobweb, Sachem, and Zabulon were all enjoyed this week. Be looking too for the hummingbird moths. Snowberry Clearwings were reported this week. Reports came in from the gardens at CMBO's center in Goshen, Jakes Landing & Old Robbins Trail, Hidden Valley, the Rea Farm, Higbee Beach, backyards . . . just about anywhere that is good for birds can also be good for butterflies.

A small dragonfly migration was witnessed on May 10 at Thompsons Beach on the Delaware Bay in Cumberland County, involving Spot-winged Gliders and Carolina Saddlebags. Black & Carolina Saddlebags hunted over farmfields at the Rea Farm on May 11. The sand roads in Belleplain & off Jakes Landing Road had numbers of Mantled Baskettail, some BLUE CORPORAL SKIMMER, and PAINTED SKIMMER on May 15.

Check Garden Fennel and Bronze Fennel in your gardens now for fresh Black Swallowtail eggs. CMBO's gardens in Goshen have many eggs now. Red Admirals came through earlier and laid on patches of Stinging Nettle ... their growing caterpillars are now hiding in webbed together leaves.

Black Cherry trees have come into full bloom this week. This native tree bears fruits in the early fall that over 52 species of birds feed on. When in bloom it rivals any ornamental! Black Locust trees are also in bloom and seriously fragrant! American Holly trees are about to bloom. When they do, treat yourself to their delicious smelling blooms, all too often overlooked. Tulip Trees are about to bloom and already drawing in numbers of bees, wasps, and orioles. Female Red Cedar trees are gauzy blue now as their load of blue berries develop.

CMBO's Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North) has WILDLIFE GARDEN PLANTS FOR SALE now through October, EVERY DAY (9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.), including many trees, shrubs, vines, and perennials that are hard to find elsewhere. Stop by to see the selection, which changes weekly. A few of this week's sale items include: COMMON MILKWEED (Monarchs need for egg-laying!!!), CORAL BELLS (hummers), ANISE HYSSOP, NEW ENGLAND ASTER, NEW YORK IRONWEED, BOLTONIA, CARDINAL FLOWER & WILD COLUMBINE (hummers), HOPS (Question Marks lay their eggs on this), CATMINT, STINGING NETTLE (Red Admirals lay their eggs on this), GARDEN PHLOX, EASTERN RED CEDAR (30+ birds feed on the berries and Juniper Hairstreaks lay their eggs on this), various VIBURNUMS, SOUR GUM, BLACK CHOKEBERRY, and SHADBUSH. If you'd like to be e-mailed as wildlife garden plants "for sale" are delivered to CMBO, send CMBO (600 Route 47 North, CMCH, NJ 08210) your e-mail address and ask to be added to this outgoing e-mail message list.

TICKS are out in force. Explore with caution & be sure to do a thorough tick check of your person and your clothing after outings in South Jersey. CMBO's two bookstores carry excellent books on ticks and Lyme Disease. If you enjoy the outdoors, it is wise to be as educated as possible.

CMBO's SPRING PROGRAMS "in full" (April through June 2002) are posted on New Jersey Audubon's web site: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html These programs include 13 different weekly walks for birds, butterflies and gardens ("hitting" each of the spring hotspots) that require no preregistration; JUST COME! There is a charge ($6 CMBO/ NJ Audubon member; $10 nonmember). Many specially arranged preregistration programs are also offered, including "Horseshoe Crabs Up Close" on May 20, "A Close Look at Shorebirds" on May 22 (and again on May 26), "Shorebirds & Horseshoe Crabs Galore" on May 23 (also offered on May 24 & 25), a "Dragonfly Workshop & Walk" on June 8, "Introduction to Wildflower ID" on June 15, "Cruisin' For Chicks at Sunset" on June 22 (when marshes rich in nesting birds are in full bloom: nest full of young terns, Laughing Gulls, American Oystercatchers, Ospreys, Clapper Rails, and more), and much, much more! To receive a copy of the spring schedule 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 hotline. For more information call 609-861-0700 or send a request for information to CMBO, 600 Route 47 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210. 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.

The Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline is a service of New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory and details sightings from Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties and near shore waters. Updates are made on Thursday evenings. Please report natural history sightings to CMBO at 609-861-0700 or 609-884-2736. For the Cape May Birding Hotline call 609-898-BIRD. 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@njaudubon.org

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