Cape May Natural History Hotline - 5/20/2005

This is Pat Sutton with the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This hotline was prepared on Thursday, May 20. 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 website (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on "Sightings" (top of any page).

During New Jersey Audubons 22nd WORLD SERIES OF BIRDING (May 14) 262 species were tallied in NJ by all teams in the 24-hour period. 96 teams from all over the country participated, including 22 Youth Teams! The event, hosted by NJ Audubon, enabled groups from all over the country to raise $$$ for their own conservation causes! To view results of the 2005 WSB (Final Standings, Winners, Youth Teams) go to: http://www.njaudubon.org

The day after the World Series and the few days following lots of migrants dropped in, including many warbler species! MISSISSIPPI KITES also arrived; 3 were seen at the Rea Farm on May 16. A SWALLOW-TAILED KITE, moving south, passed over Reeds Beach at 10 a.m. on May 17.

FLOWERING DOGWOOD, LILACS, VIBURNUMS, and CHOKEBERRIES are all in full bloom in CMBOs gardens in Goshen and elsewhere. CORAL HONEYSUCKLE is raging red with loads of blossoms at the CMBO Center in Goshen and attracting hungry hummingbirds. TULIP TREE blossoms are drawing in hungry ORCHARD ORIOLES.

HORSESHOE CRABS have been laying eggs since May 10th, when 100s to 1000s were tallied by counters as they came up onto the Delaware Bay beaches to lay their eggs. As the Full Moon approaches (Monday, May 23) numbers of mating crabs are again building at each high tide. The bulk of the crabs are using the evening high tide as opposed to the day time high tide. Evening high tides at Reeds Beach over the next week follow: 7:12 p.m. (May 20), 8 p.m. (May 21), 8:42 p.m. (May 22), 9:30 (May 23), 10 p.m. (May 24), 11 p.m. (May 25), Midnight (May 26), 1 a.m. (May 28). Shorebirds & Horseshoe Crabs Galore, will be offered four afternoons from 3-5 p.m. on May 25 (Wednesday), May 26 (Thursday), May 27 (Friday), and May 28 (Saturday). This program will begin at the CMBO Center in Goshen with a brief indoor slide show and materials, followed by a visit to a nearby beach to witness crabs and shorebirds. The slide show is quite historic now with waning numbers of crabs and birds, since it includes photos of the massive gatherings of both crabs and shorebirds in the 1980s and early 1990s. To register call 609-861-0700, x-11.

Shorebirds are arriving and will continue to build. The NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program flew both sides of the Delaware Bay on May 18 and tallied 48,500 shorebirds including 4,500 RED KNOT, 15,500 RUDDY TURNSTONES, 3,700 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER, 8,200 SANDERLING, 3,700 DOWITCHER, and 13,000 DUNLIN. The 3rd weekend in May is traditionally when shorebirds flood into the area, so numbers may swell after the rains.

To keep disturbance to a minimum and because RED KNOT numbers on the wintering grounds were disturbingly low, the NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program has again closed Delaware Bay beaches to foot traffic from May 14 to June 7, as well as the bay side (or back side) of Stone Harbor Point. Viewing opportunities are still excellent from each of the road ends along the Delaware Bay, with roping and signage so that visitors can walk to the waters edge, but not up or down the beach. Shorebirds will quickly learn that people remain behind the ropes and are likely to feed quite close!

A RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD nest was discovered May 9th at the CMBO Center in Goshen within view of one of the feeders! Incubation is 11-14 days, so the young could hatch any day! Once hatched it takes the young 14-28 days before they can fly. Be sure to thoroughly clean and refill hummingbird feeders at least once a week, even if full at weeks end. Visit the World of Backyard Habitat pages on NJ Audubons website for extensive information about gardening for hummingbirds (& butterflies): http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat

On the other end of the spectrum Bald Eagles take 78-90 days before they can fly. New Jerseys 53 pairs of BALD EAGLES began laying eggs back in early February through mid-March. Young began hatching mid-March to mid-April. Some are nearly ready to fledge or fly. The Bald Eagle nest at Beaver Swamp WMA (5 minutes from the CMBO Center in Goshen) has 2 growing young that are now 5 weeks old and quite visible when awake. There is always an adult in attendance, often busy tearing up food and feeding the chicks.

Nummys Island at high tide has been a super spot to view shorebirds that are pushed off many of the surrounding marshes: RED KNOT, SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER, BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, DUNLIN, WHIMBREL, and peeps. High tide at Nummys Island over the next week follows: 6:30 p.m. (May 20), 7 p.m (May 21), 7:30 a.m. & 7:45 p.m. (May 22), 8 a.m. (May 23), 9 a.m. (May 24), 9:45 (May 25), 10:30 (May 26), 11:30 (May 27), 12:30 (May 28), 1:30 (May 29), 2:30 (May 30), 3:30 (May 31). Another opportunity to surround yourself with shorebirds is to take one of the Back Bay Boat Cruises (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) every Sunday and Monday through May. To register for the Back Bay Boat Cruises call The Skimmer directly at 609-884-3100.

The May 18, the Nummys Island evening walk enjoyed excellent looks at 40 BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS (all adults and all feeding on pond edges), 100s of BLACK SKIMMERS perched and flying about on the back side of Stone Harbor Point (they just came in!), pairs of noisy AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS, GREAT and SNOWY EGRETS in full breeding plumage, CLAPPER RAILS (dozens calling and about 10 flying or running through the marsh), dazzling SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, DUNLINS, and BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER in full breeding plumage, 30 WHIMBREL, an adult PEREGRINE, OSPREY on nests incubating eggs, only 1 BRANT (theyve finally headed north), numbers of LEAST TERNS (just back), mating LAUGHING GULLS, COMMON TERNS carrying fish back to their mates at Stone Harbor Point to firm up pair bonding, and a gorgeous rusty CURLEW SANDPIPER.

Mark your calendars for the special Cruisin For Chicks trips: Thursday, June 16 (3 to 6 p.m.) and Saturday, June 18 (5 to 8 p.m.). These trips are timed to savor the marsh nesting birds with nests full of young. To register call 609-861-0700, x11.

By May 17, a pair of PIPING PLOVER had laid 4 eggs at The Meadows, at the north end of that beach (near Cape May Citys Mt. Vernon Avenue).

CMBOs 2005 Cape May Birding Workshops are timed to learn and savor peak concentrations. The next workshop is the 2-Day Backyard Habitat Workshop on Saturday and Sunday, June 25-26. Many of the other summer workshops are held mid-week to avoid summer traffic. A 1-Day Tern Workshop on Wednesday, June 29, is timed when the nesting colonies are a frenzy of activity and pull in regional rarities. A 1-Day Butterfly Workshop on Wednesday, August 10, will study 36 species at one location! A 2-Day Shorebird Workshop on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 23-24, will enjoy more than 30 species in many plumages! To receive the workshop brochure (covering 13 workshops now through January 05) call 609-861-0700 or go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks05.html

Spring has FLOODED into every nook and cranny of Cape May County. A din of songsters on territory adds an auditory bonus to any outing! Belleplain State Forest, hotspots in Cumberland County, and sites around Cape May abound with singing warblers, vireos, flycatchers, cuckoos, and other goodies! And the trees have not fully leafed out yet, so observers are savoring good looks. Attend one or all of CMBOs 17+ different weekly spring walks, requiring no preregistration. For details on each walk, go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

Special programs and field trips in addition to those already mentioned follow (prices vary: call 609-861-0700 for info and to register):

Cruisin For Chicks at Sunset, Th., June 16 (3 to 6 p.m.), and Sat., June 18 (5 to 8 p.m.).

Drawing With Nature (Saturdays: May 28, June 25, July 30, Aug. 27).

Dragons & Damsels in CMBOs Gardens, Saturday, June 18 (10 a.m. to Noon)

Kayak Trips to Wild Areas Great Cedar Swamp (Tu., June 21), Bidwells Creek (Th., July 7), East Creek Lake and Pickle Factory Pond (Tu., July 26, and Tu., Aug. 16).

The Cape May Bird Observatory offers an extensive series of regular bird walks that require no pre-registration and many special field trips and programs for which advanced registration is required. All are detailed in the Kestrel Express. The summer edition is now available too. To receive a copy stop at either CMBO Center, call the office during business hours at 609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's web site: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

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 Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties. Updates are typically made on Thursdays. Please report your natural history sightings to CMBO's Center in Goshen at 609-861-0700. Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!

<< 5/13/2005   6/2/2005 >>