Cape May Natural History Hotline - 5/6/2005

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 Friday, May 6. 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).

The first MONARCH was seen April 29 at Higbee Beach. This butterfly is part of the first generation of Monarchs born from eggs laid by Monarchs that wintered in Mexico and migrated north to the Gulf States where they laid eggs and died. Migrant Monarchs will repopulate this area and further north if they can find Milkweed to lay their eggs on before they die. COMMON MILKWEED and BUTTERFLY WEED (the orange milkweed) are just peeking through the ground. Amazingly, Monarchs can find it! If you have no milkweed in your garden, the CMBO Center in Goshen (600 Rt. 47 North) is selling seed packets of TROPICAL MILKWEED. Plant it and Monarchs will benefit!

Beaver Swamp WMA is a fun place in the spring, especially this spring with the active BALD EAGLE nest. Just this past week 2 eaglets were confirmed in this nest. If awake, they are easy to see now as they lift their heads on wobbly necks and look out on their new world. Often one or both of the adults are in attendance, tearing up food for the kids. CARPENTER FROGS are thick there, hard to see, but easy to hear (a hammering call). Look for GULL-BILLED TERNS (2 on April 29) hunting over the lily pads (these terns specialize in frogs). It is a good year for FALCATE ORANGETIPS, and Beaver Swamp WMA has been one of the better sites. Also seen there: PEARL CRESCENTS, E. TAILED BLUES (5/1), SPRING AZURES, JUVENILES DUSKYWINGS, HENRYS ELFINS, and100s of BLUE CORPORALS (dragonflies).

FROSTED ELFINS are flying now and it is looking like a good spring for them, thanks to last summers rains and lush stands of WILD INDIGO. A HESSELS HAIRSTREAKS was seen May 5 in the Pine Barrens. Pat Sutton & Rick Radis Hessels Hairstreaks, Elfins, and Pigmy Pines trip has been rescheduled to Sunday, May 8 (10 a.m. to 3 pm., based at Warren Grove). There are still spaces; call 609-861-0700 to register (or just meet the group at Lucilles Diner on Rt. 539 in Warren Grove at 10 a.m.). The din of bird and frog song now, day and night, is the ultimate spring experience. Learn just what youre listening to by joining Mark Garland and Chris Vogel for Listening to the Night on Mon., May 9 (9 to 11 p.m., based at Jakes Landing). To register call 609-861-0700, x11.

HIGHBUSH BLUEBERRY is in bloom. Its bell-shaped flowers are an important spring nectar source for RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS. FLOWERING DOGWOOD is in bloom. RED MAPLE trees are glowing maroon now since they are covered in seeds. Trees continue to leaf out, but not fully yet. Just about everyones backyard feeder this past week was adorned with one or several hungry ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS (migrants passing through). WOOD THRUSH are back and singing their flute-like song. GREAT-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS returned May 1 and have been noisy since with their rolling call. GRAY CATBIRDS and HOUSE WRENS just returned to backyards and can be heard calling.

100s, if not 1000s of GLOSSY IBIS are flying over the CMBO Center in Goshen daily as they commute between good feeding sites at Beaver Swamp WMA and along the Delaware Bay.

BOTTLE-NOSED DOLPHIN are back in force; 50 were seen in the waters around the Concrete Ship on May 5. Many N. GANNETS were migrating north at the Concrete Ship on May 1.

Shorebirds are flooding in and just this week coming into full breeding plumage! The May 4th Nummys Island Bird Walk (held every Wednesday evening) enjoyed RED KNOT, RUDDY TURNSTONES, 100s DUNLIN (all in high plumage), 50+ BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, 70 WHIMBREL, noisy AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS, lots of LITTLE BLUE HERONS, TRI-COLORED HERONS, BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS, visible CLAPPER RAILS, and COMMON LOONS in the waterways. High tides push shorebirds to places like Nummys Island where the marsh is higher, so if you visit on one tide and do not see too much, be sure to head back at a different tide.

ATTENTION: The NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program will be closing Delaware Bay beaches between May 14 and June 7, as they did last spring in an effort to curtail disturbance to feeding shorebirds (RED KNOT, etc.). As in 2004, road ends along the Delaware Bay will be set up for wonderful viewing opportunities. This spring the bay side (or back side) of Stone Harbor Point will also be closed between May 14 and June 7 because this site is heavily utilized by roosting shorebirds. The ocean side of the Point will remain open.

Two Wednesday evening Sunset Cruises for Spring Migrants and Heron Rookeries on May 11 and May 18 (3 to 7 p.m.) explore inaccessible back bay marshes where all these goodies can be enjoyed up close and personal. To register call 609-861-0700, x11. Another opportunity to cruise through marshes is the Back Bay Boat Cruise (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) every Sunday and Monday. To register for the Back Bay Boat Cruises call The Skimmer directly at 609-884-3100.

A din of SEASIDE SPARROWS (electric-like buzzing), CLAPPER RAILS (clapping), and WILLETS (wee-will-it, wee-will-it), along with the faint calls of E. MEADOWLARKS (spring of the year) can be enjoyed at Jakes Landing while watching the resident OSPREY incubating on the roadside nest platform. CLAPPER RAILS bathing in creeks at low tide are being seen during the Clapper Rail Madness trips which meet at the end of Jakes Landing Road: May 13 (8-9:30 a.m.). No preregistration needed; just come!

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

Fun sightings from CMBO walks this week follow:


A new spring walk, Exploring Cumberland, visits South Jerseys best kept secrets in Cumberland County, the next county north of Cape May County. Every Wednesday morning (7:30 to 10:30 a.m.) this walk on May 4 enjoyed: BALD EAGLE, YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, ACADIAN FLYCATCHER, WARBLING VIREO, BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER, KENTUCKY WARBLER, SUMMER TANAGER, SCARLET TANAGER, BLUE GROSBEAK, ORCHARD ORIOLE, and NORTHERN ORIOLE.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS are back at habitats complimented by feeders, including both CMBO Centers. Look for males performing their pendulum swing flight over females. 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

Fledgling Masters are on display in the Gallery at the CMBO Center in Goshen (600 Rt. 47 North), including young artists from around the country (ages 13 to 22): Jesse Barry, Evan Obercian, and Cape Mays own Doyle Dowdell (age 13) are some of the many artists. Dont miss it: 9-4:30 daily. Stop by and be awed by this assemblage of young talent.

Breeding warblers are back! A 2-Day Warbler Workshop, May 9 & 10 (Monday & Tuesday), with Louise Zemaitis and Michael OBrien still has spaces. To register call 609-861-0700, x-11. CMBOs 2005 Cape May Birding Workshops (15 different offerings) all timed to learn and savor peak concentrations. To receive the workshop brochure call 609-861-0700 or go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks05.html

THE ultimate spring experience, NJ Audubons Cape May Spring Weekend (May 20-22, 2005) is coming up! Call for the brochure (609-884-2736) or print the downloadable pdf version from the website: http://www.njaudubon.org/Centers/CMBO/SpringWeekend.html Once youve read over the brochure, direct any questions to Sheila Lego or Marleen Murgitroyde at 609-884-2736

A number of volunteer opportunities follow: SHOREBIRD STEWARDS NEEDED: Red Knot need all the help they can get. Wintering numbers were even lower than last winters low numbers. The NJ Endangered & Nongame Species program is looking for volunteer SHOREBIRD STEWARDS to cover NJs Delaware Bay beaches May 14-15 and May 21 to June 5. Contact Larissa Smith (609-628-2103 or LLSmith@gtc3.com) for more details and to sign up.

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

Shorebird & Horseshoe Crabs Galore, Th., May 19 (3 to 5 p.m.), Wed., May 25 (3 to 5 p.m.), Th., May 26 (3 to 5 p.m.), Fri., May 27 (3 to 5 p.m.), and Sat., May 28 (3 to 5 p.m.).

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. 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!

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