Cape May Natural History Hotline - 5/2/2002
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 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 Cape May.

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: 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

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 possible.

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: http://www.njaudubon.org/centers/cmbo/springweekend.html

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 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 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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