Cape May Natural History Hotline - 5/3/2003
You have reached the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Societys Cape May Bird Observatory. This message was prepared on Saturday, May 3. For bird news call the Cape May Birding Hotline at (609) 898-2473. NJ Audubons three hotlines can be read in full on our web site (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on "Sightings."

BIRDERS from all over are descending on Cape May for the 20th World Series of Birding. You can be part of this event by sponsoring one of the home teams raising funds for CMBO. A record high of 73 teams are now registered for this great event, including 13 youth teams. The date for this years competition is Saturday, May 10th, 2003. To learn more go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/wsb), or call the Northwood Center at (609) 884-2736 for more information. Theres an online discussion area on the web site, worth checking (whether or not youre competing) to learn where top birders are finding special birds all over the state.

HORSESHOE CRABS are moving onto Delaware Bay beaches as their spawning season has begun. Shorebirds, including RED KNOTS and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS are arriving too, hoping for an ample supply of horseshoe crab eggs to fuel their northward journeys. There is great news from the states of New Jersey and Delaware this week for horseshoe crabs, shorebirds, naturalists and conservationists. A complete ban on the harvest of horseshoe crabs has been enacted in both states for all of May and early June, and the annual harvest quota has been cut in half. Hopefully these restrictions will allow populations of horseshoe crabs to rebound, and with it the shorebird numbers, which have been in rapid decline, may stabilize. Its a good time to send a note of thanks to the Governors of both states! There will also be access restrictions to many beaches where the crabs and shorebirds are active, but there will still be great opportunities to view this phenomenon -- without disturbing the birds.

The peak of horseshoe crab egg-laying and related shorebird feeding frenzies should accompany the next full moon May 16. This is also the first day of the big Cape May Spring Weekend, an amazingly full three-day weekend of talks, field trips, boat rides, and general celebration of nature in spring. Evening keynote talks this year will be by Pete Dunne and Kenn Kaufmann. There may still be room for you at this grand festival call the Northwood Center at (609) 884-2736 for more information.

You can enjoy the phenomenal congregations of shorebirds and horseshoe crabs along the Delaware Bay shore on a number of upcoming programs. Shorebirds & Horseshoe Crabs Galore is offered from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. on May 15, 22, 23, & 24. A Close Look at Shorebirds runs from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. on May 21. Horseshoe Crabs Up Close and Personal will be held from 9:00 a.m. to noon on May 31.

GREAT HORNED OWLS are our earliest nesting bird and their young will be the first to fledge. Some have already been reported as having fledged. BALD EAGLES are the second earliest nesting bird. Their young are over a month old now and becoming visible in some nests. There are 38 pairs in New Jersey this spring, though not all have been successful. One new nest is deep within Beaver Swamp WMA, just up Sluice Creek from the Cape May Bird Observatorys Center in Goshen and one of the adults is seen almost daily from the center as it hunts Sluice Creek or follows the creek out to the Delaware Bay.

Migrant songbirds are back in force. Almost all of our nesting species are back, and many of the birds that head further north to nest are beginning to arrive. Tag along on one of the CMBO walks at Belleplain State Forest for a chance to see these nesting warblers: Yellow-throated, Pine, Prairie, Hooded, Worm-eating, Yellow, Ovenbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, and others. These walks begin at 7:30 a.m. every Thursday in May plus Saturdays May 24 and 31. If you know the regular places in Belleplain but want to walk some lesser known trails, try Back Trails of Belleplain on Monday mornings through May 12 at 7:30 a.m.

PURPLE MARTINS, TREE SWALLOWS, and E. BLUEBIRDS are all showing interest in nest boxes at the Cape May Bird Observatory Center in Goshen.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS are daily now at the CMBO Center in Goshen and at many other locations around Cape May County. Be sure to get your feeders up, especially if you would like them to nest in your yard. Clean feeders at least once a week, even if use is minimal. And of course be sure to also provide a lush butterfly & hummingbird garden.

At Jakes Landing a din of CLAPPER RAILS, WILLETS, FORSTERS TERNS, and SEASIDE SPARROWS are regularly calling from the marshes, and along the road you can hear the songs of many other birds, including Great Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Red-eyed Vireo, and many more. Its a great place to learn songs, and you can learn them under the tutelage of Pat Sutton on her Birding by Ear Walk each Wednesday from 7:30-9:30 a.m.

Back Bay Birding By Boat cruises, every Sunday and Monday (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.), offer comfortable and close looks at birds of the saltmarsh and back bays (call Wildlife Unlimited, call 609-884-3100 to register for these CMBO-sponsored trips). A special Sunset Cruise is scheduled for Saturday, June 14, from 5 to 8 p.m.; sign up by calling (609) 861-0700, x-11.

Stretches of cold and rain in early spring delayed the emergence of many adult butterflies and dragonflies. Late April did bring many new emergences. These butterflies have emerged this year: FALCATE ORANGETIP, E. TAILED BLUE, JUVENALS DUSKYWING, PINE ELFIN, HENRYS ELFIN, BROWN ELFIN, FROSTED ELFIN, EASTERN TIGER SWALLOWTAIL, ORANGE SULPHUR, CABBAGE WHITE, AMERICAN LADY, and SPRING AZURE. New species should be emerging on every warm and sunny day. A Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk with Pat Sutton meets at the Dennisville RR tracks every Wednesday from 10 a.m.-Noon. Butterflies and all other elements of natural history are part of The Nature of Cape May, which is the title of a program offered every Thursday at 9:00 a.m. at the Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area. A Dragonfly Workshop & Walk will be held on Saturday, June 7, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Call (609) 861-0700 x11 to register.

Sunny warms days also bring out the reptiles. PAINTED TURTLES, SNAPPING TURTLES, BOX TURTLES, RED-BELLIED TURTLES, BLACK RAT SNAKES, and NORTHERN WATER SNAKES have been reported during the last week. Amphibians have been active for some time now, and FROGS are extremely vocal on May nights. These species are calling around Cape May County: Spring peeper, northern gray treefrog, southern gray treefrog, Fowlers toad, northern cricket frog, New Jersey chorus frog, carpenter frog, green frog, and southern leopard frog.

BLUEBERRY bushes are in bud and some have begun to bloom. Many oaks and other trees are budding or blooming and giving a gauzy look to the forests. In some areas the new green leaves are bursting out. The leaves are further along in upcounty areas Cape May and Cape May Point are still chilled by breezes blowing off the cold ocean and bay many days and those waters are still in the low 50s. The new green shoots of Spartina are peeking through last years brown stalks on the south Jersey salt marshes. SASSAFRAS buds are bursting, and their big yellow flower clusters are obvious and forest edges. SHADBUSH is also in bloom in many patches of Cape May County forest. This small native tree has dainty white flowers, blooms when the Shad are running up the Delaware Bay, and fruits in June, hence one of its other name, JUNEBERRY. PIXIE MOSS (a Pine Barrens speciality at the northern limit of its range), SWAMP PINK (an Endangered Plant in New Jersey), and TRAILING ARBUTUS (found along the sandy woods trails of Belleplain State Forest) are all in bloom right now. Savor these spring specialities! Learn how to identify wildflowers at the CMBO Introduction to Wildflower Identification program on Saturday, June 14. Call (609) 861-0700, x11, to register.

If youd like to learn as you help CMBO maintain its gardens in Goshen, join Karen Williams on Fridays (9:30 a.m.-Noon) for Garden Maintenance Workshops. Plant divisions are often delightful payment for your labor and having a chance to learn so much from Karen as you work.

Additional regularly scheduled walks that require no preregistration and will help you witness spring unfolding include: Higbee Beach Bird Walk every Friday (7:30-9:30 a.m.), Spring Migrants at the Rea Farm every Saturday (7:30-9:30 a.m.), Hidden Valley for Birds & Butterflies every Sunday (7-9 a.m.), Raptors and Songbirds of Delaware Bayshore every Sunday (8-10 a.m.), Birding for First Timers every Sunday (1-3 p.m.), Mondays at the Meadows every Monday (7:30-9:30 a.m.), Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point & Nummys Island every Tuesday (6 p.m. to dusk), and Birding Cape May Point every Wednesday (7:30-9:30 a.m.). Full details about cost & meeting place can be found at NJ Audubons web site: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

CMBOs full listing of spring programs (April - June) is posted on New Jersey Audubons web site at http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html CMBOs spring program schedule, the Kestrel Express, is now available. If you are not a member and would like to receive a copy, stop by either CMBO Center or call (609) 861-0700.

The Cape May Bird Observatory offers an extensive series of regular bird and butterfly walks that require no pre registration and many special field trips and programs for which advanced registration is required. To receive a copy of our Program Schedule, stop at one of our centers, call the office during business hours at 609 861 0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's WEB SITE at http://www.njaudubon.org

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 around Cape May County, and also include reports from Cumberland and Atlantic Counties. Updates are typically made on Thursdays. Natural history sightings can be written on sighting sheets at either CMBO center or called in to 609-861-0700. Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!

Mark S. Garland
Senior Naturalist
New Jersey Audubon Society
Cape May Bird Observatory
Northwood Center
701 E. Lake Dr.
PO Box 3
Cape May Point, NJ 08212
(609) 884-2736

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