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 2. 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!
April 16, thousands of HORSESHOE CRABS came ashore to mate & lay their
eggs along the Delaware Bay beaches. Hundreds were found on the beach
at Fortescue in Cumberland County & thousands at Highs Beach in Cape May
County. Since then the temperatures went back down & the Delaware Bay
water temperatures must have dropped because horseshoe crab egg laying
has not been reported in the last few weeks. But in the meantime
thousands of LAUGHING GULLS and hundreds of shorebirds (mostly
SANDERLINGS with a few RED KNOT) have been taking advantage of some of
the horseshoe crab eggs in the tide line from this laying. The peak
time for Horseshoe Crab mating will probably still occur at the usual
time, the middle of May through early June, with peak egg laying
occurring during the high tides around the new moon (May 12) and the
full moon (May 26). CMBO has many special program scheduled to witness
this incredible happening: "Shorebirds & Horseshoe Crabs Galore" on May
16 (also offered on May 23, 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.
Butterfly and dragonfly reports this week have come in from the sand
roads throughout Belleplain State Forest, Jakes Landing (and Old Robbins
Trail off Jakes Ldn), Peach Orchard Road in the Great Cedar Swamp
Division of the Cape May NWR, and Higbee Beach. Dragonflies enjoyed: #s
of MANTLED BASKETTAIL and BLUE CORPORAL SKIMMERS, SPRINGTIME DARNERS (on
Old Robbins Trail), a GREEN DARNER, and a SPOT-WINGED GLIDER. The
elfins are still flying, despite some very heavy rains recently (which
might have done in some of the tiny butterflies). BROWN ELFINS & HENRY'S
ELFINS were enjoyed in Great Cedar Swamp on April 27. On May 1, BROWN ELFINS &
PINE ELFINS and good numbers of duskywings were seen on Old Robbins
Trail. The Pine Elfins were nectaring on Huckleberry flowers and could
have been easily missed. A CHECKERED SKIPPER was seen May 1 in West
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 the thick of it all
and triggering some excellent sightings. What follows is a snapshot of
some of the goodies seen on CMBO's various walks or field trips.
The Belleplain State Forest walks are enjoying lots of breeders:
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, PINE WARBLERS, PRAIRIE WARBLER, 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. Saturday's walk on April
27 had close-to-the-road looks at Prothonotary, Hooded, & Worm-eating
Warbler and Scarlet Tanager ... one leader thought the birds seemed to
be showing off as if to say, "Aren't you glad I'm back and aren't I
beautiful!" 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 "Birding by Ear Walk" on May 1 discovered the SWAINSON'S WARBLER
at Jakes Landing Road in the Mountain Laurel thicket just before the
first pine stand on the left. It's loud, striking song caught the
group's attention. Appropriate, huh! It was heard singing as late as
6:30 p.m. on May 1 & has been heard through the day today, May 2. The
dawn chorus on May 1 was an incredible din. We zeroed in on Red-bellied
Woodpecker, Great Crested Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Ruby-crowned
Kinglet, Wood Thrush, Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, N. Parula, Yellow,
Nashville, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Green, Yellow-throated,
Prairie, Black-and-white, and of course SWAINSON'S Warbler, Ovenbird,
Seaside Sparrow, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and more. If you are
struggling to sort out bird song, join CMBO for our "Birding by Ear
Walk" (7:30-9:30 a.m.) led by Pat Sutton (or CMBO Associate Naturalists
when Pat is traveling) and meeting at the end of Jakes Landing Road
EVERY Wednesday, now through May 29.
CLAPPER RAILS are back & thick as ever. CMBO's "Clapper Rail Madness"
trip on April 26 enjoyed lengthy fun looks at 6 rails and heard 100+
others. An added bonus was the resident pair of OSPREY mating. 2 other
rail trips are scheduled: May 3 (9-10:30 a.m.) and May 10 (2-3:30
p.m.). The May 3 trip still has room. Join the group at the end of
Jakes Landing Road promptly at 9 a.m. For the May 10 trip call CMBO to
register: 609-861-0700, x-11.
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 April 23 this walk enjoyed 14
species of shorebirds including 2 PIPING PLOVER, 30 AMERICAN
OYSTERCATCHER (including 1 pair on a nest already!), WHIMBREL, PURPLE
SANDPIPER, 20 RED KNOT, and a DOWITCHER in breeding plumage, as well as
numbers of N. GANNET and COMMON LOONS, singing & well seen SEASIDE
SPARROWS, OSPREY on a nest, BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS, GLOSSY IBIS, and
many BRANT. On April 30 this walk discovered a breeding plumaged EARED
GREBE, GREAT CORMORANT, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 6 SURF SCOTER, RED-THROATED
LOON, WHIMBREL, PEREGRINE, PURPLE SANDPIPER, AM. OYSTERCATCHER, CLAPPER
RAIL, TRICOLORED HERON, 4 ROYAL TERN, still good numbers of BRANT, and
the normal shorebirds.
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. Some of the fun breeders are back &
being enjoyed: YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT (4/30), INDIGO BUNTING (4/29), and
an amazing BARRED OWL was seen 30 feet from the group on April 26 (no
doubt one of the resident adults with young somewhere nearby in a hollow
tree). Migrants enjoyed there this week include: ROSE-BREASTED
GROSBEAK, ORCHARD & BALTIMORE ORIOLE, RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, SUMMER
TANAGER, WARBLING VIREO, and many warblers.
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. This week early
morning visitors (5-6 a.m.) and late evening visitors (on CMBO's "Full
Moon over the Meadows" on April 27 (7:30-10 p.m.) enjoyed calling SORAS,
SNIPE, & VIRGINIA RAILS, squawking BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS, and
displaying AMERICAN WOODCOCK. Other treats using this freshwater area
include: BLUE-WINGED TEAL, (pair of) GADWALL, AMERICAN WIGEON, 8 ROYAL
TERN, 6 WHIMBREL, 30 LEAST SANDPIPER, 2 SOLITARY SANDPIPER, and 1
BONAPARTE'S GULL and 30 N. GANNETS from the beachfront. 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.
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT continue to migrate over in big numbers. Look
for the long, wavy lines or large dark birds. Flocks of GLOSSY IBIS and
flocks of GREAT EGRETS and SNOWY EGRETS cross back and forth across the Cape
May peninsula. Recent rains and soaked farm fields have drawn in
feeding flocks of GLOSSY IBIS and scattered CATTLE EGRETS to wet farm
fields in Goshen.
RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD activity decidedly increased on April 30.
CMBO's feeders in Goshen already have wars underway with several males
chasing each other about and performing the pendulum swing over feeding
females. Many others are reporting similar activity. Be sure to hang
your hummingbird feeders ASAP, if you haven't already, otherwise the
hummingbirds moving through will not settle in but continue to wander
looking for a sure source of food. 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:
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.
Our love affair with the nesting GREAT HORNED OWLS in Avalon has come to
an end. The lone, fluffy youngster has fledged! On April 26 it was
very active, walking the nest rim and stretching its wings. By April 27
it was gone, no doubt having fledged the night before & now quite
comfortable in hiding where owls like to be, probably in the nearby Red
Cedar island of trees. No word has come in on the 2nd nest we've been
monitoring at the end of Turkey Point Road in Cumberland County. CMBO
would appreciate any news about this nest, whether or not the two young
are still in it or if they too have fledged.
AMERICAN KESTREL has been regular on the Cape May NWR property along
Kimbel's Beach Road, seen there on April 27.
BALD EAGLES, our second earliest nesting bird, are also now feeding
young. 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.
WHIP-POOR-WILLS are calling at night now in the Tuckahoe WMA. And
CHUCK-WILLS-WIDOWS are being heard at night in Goshen.
Since April 10, a pair of E. BLUEBIRDS has been nesting at the CMBO
Center in Goshen in the right-hand bluebird house in the meadow behind
the building. They feed in the grassy meadow behind the building and
often perch on the railings on the back deck.
The forest is almost fully leafed out. The dazzling SHOW of Beach Plum
bushes in bloom is winding down, but it still might be worthwhile to
visit Higbee Beach WMA. The trail straight out to the beach cuts
through a forest of Beach Plum bushes and is a fairyland of dainty white
flowers when they are all in bloom. Look for spring butterflies on the
blossoms, Juniper Hairstreaks especially love Beach Plum blossoms.
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 is taking registrations for our very popular, annual CAPE MAY
SPRING WEEKEND (May 17-19), a 3-day event with walks beginning as early
as Friday morning at 7:30 a.m. and running straight through Sunday at 5
p.m. An incredible opportunity to savor spring to the fullest with
bird, butterfly, dragonfly, and botany walks running all weekend long at
a variety of famous hotspots, back bay boat trips, special programs and
workshops, book signings by local authors, special evening programs
(Friday's program is by Clay & Pat Sutton on the Galapagos and
Saturday's program is by Pete Dunne) and more. And the entire weekend
has multiple opportunities for the full range of expertise: beginners,
intermediates, and experts alike. Call CMBO to get a brochure
(609-861-0700 or 609-884-2736). NJ Audubon's web site has some details
about the weekend:
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 a field trip to witness "Clapper
Rail Madness" on May 3 (and another on May 10), a "Warbler ID
Mini-Workshop with Louise Zemaitis on May 4, a "Hessel's Hairstreak in
the Jersey Pine Barrens" field trip on May 4 with Pat Sutton, a "Sunset
Cruise for Spring Migrants & Heron Rookeries" on May 4, a full-day field
trip exploring "Cape May Top to Bottom" with Mark Garland on May 5, the
"Cape May Century Run Team" (an official team in NJ Audubon's World
Series of Birding -- with ONLY 2 places left) with Pat Sutton on May 11,
"Shorebirds & Horseshoe Crabs Galore" on May 16 (also offered on May 23,
24, & 25), "Horseshoe Crabs Up Close" on May 20, "A Close Look at
Shorebirds" on May 22 (and again on May 26), 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
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)