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
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
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
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
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
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
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:
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:
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
CMBO's SPRING PROGRAMS "in full" (April through June 2002) are posted on
New Jersey Audubon's web site:
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)