You have reached the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a
service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This
message was prepared on Thursday, May 8. 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 web site (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on
"Sightings" at the top of any page.
It is the eve of New Jersey Audubon's 20th Annual World Series of
Birding, to be held on Saturday, May 10th. Fallouts are occurring (16
species of warblers at Higbees on May 7!), teams are finding birds right
& left, spirits are high. 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. To
learn more go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/wsb) or call the Northwood Center at
(609) 884-2736 for more information. Enjoy the online discussion at the
World Series web site, 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. It's 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 crabs & shorebirds are active, but there will still
be great viewing opportunities -- without disturbing the birds.
The peak of horseshoe crab egg-laying and related shorebird feeding
frenzies should accompany the high tides triggered by the full moon
(May 16) and the new moon (May 31). May 16 is also the first day of the
big "Cape May Spring Weekend," an amazing 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," with
marine biologist Karen Williams, will be held from 9:00 a.m. to noon on
May 31. Call (609) 861-0700 x11 to register.
On the butterfly front, lots of AMERICAN LADIES were seen around the
Cape May Peninsula on May 7th, undoubtedly immigrants from the south
where they winter, arriving to repopulate the area. SNOWBERRY
CLEARWINGS (one of the hummingbird moths) are flying now & being drawn
to Lilac blossoms. The spring's first HESSEL'S HAIRSTREAKS were
discovered April 29 in Atlantic County in a White Cedar Swamp, where
SLEEPY DUSKYWINGS were also flying. Swallowtails "popped" finally after
all the cold & wet weather we've had. The first TIGER SWALLOWTAIL was
seen April 27 and many since, and the first SPICEBUSH SWALLOWTAIL and
BLACK SWALLOWTAILS on April 30 and since. A MONARCH was seen April 29
in Avalon and thankfully COMMON MILKWEED, BUTTERFLYWEED, and SWAMP
MILKWEED are all up, so early Monarchs will have plants to lay their
eggs on. The spring ethereal butterflies are still flying: PINE ELFIN,
HENRY'S ELFIN, BROWN ELFIN, FALCATE ORANGETIP. The sandy roads of
Belleplain State Forest are ideal for elfin watching, though you'll have
to look beyond the hoards of JUVENAL'S DUSKYWINGS. An amazing 24
OLIVE' JUNIPER HAIRSTREAKS and 34 FALCATE ORANGETIPS (29 males and 5
females) were seen on April 27 south of Millville.
On the dragonfly front, BLUE CORPORALS (tenerals & some already "BLUE")
and MANTLED BASKETTAILS (1st seen April 30) are flying. And a
TWIN-SPOTTED SPIKETAIL was seen April 27 in the NJ Pine Barrens at
Harrisville. CMBO's dragonfly pond in Goshen has been an overwintering
nursery for many dragonflies and we're finding shed skins from Blue
Corporals and damselflies. 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 savored with
Mark Garland during "The Nature of Cape May," an outing 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.
BALD EAGLES are the second earliest nesting bird. 38 pairs were active
in New Jersey by February and March. Sadly a number of these pairs
either did not nest or their nest failed. As of late April @ 23 pairs
are still active with growing young, and some young are almost two
months old now. By mid-June they will be ready to fly. One new nest is
deep within Beaver Swamp WMA, just up Sluice Creek from the Cape May
Bird Observatory's Center in Goshen. Keen observers spot one of the
adults from this nest almost daily as it flys down Sluice Creek and over
CMBO on its way out to the Delaware Bay. On May 3rd an adult with
sizable prey flew over the center.
As the calendar page turned to May, migrant songbirds really began to
flood in. Almost all of our nesting birds are back, some already
building nests (like the Blue-gray Gnatchatchers on Sunset Road in
Belleplain). Tag along on one of the "CMBO walks at Belleplain State
Forest" for a chance to see these nesting warblers: YELLOW-THROATED
WARBLER, PINE WARBLER, PRAIRIE WARBLER, PROTHONOTARY WARBLER, HOODED
WARBLER, WORM-EATING WARBLER, YELLOW WARBLER, BLUE-WINGED WARBLER,
OVENBIRD, LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH, and others. These walks begin at 7:30
a.m. every Thursday in May plus some 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, 7:30-9:30 a.m.
PIPING PLOVERS were on eggs as/of May 7 at the Cape May Migratory Bird
Refuge! Many OSPREY are sitting low on the nest, probably on eggs by
At the Cape May Bird Observatory Center in Goshen PURPLE MARTINS and
TREE SWALLOWS are showing interest in nest boxes, ORCHARD ORIOLES are
back in the large trees, and RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS are daily. Male
Ruby-throats arrived first but females are back now in force too. Be
looking for the male's display flight, a dramatic "pendulum swing." He
performs it right over the female. 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.
This past winter's snowfall (unusual for South Jersey) flattened the
winter stand of marsh grasses. The result . . . CLAPPER RAILS have been
EASY to see at places like Jakes Landing. One pair mated right next to
the parking lot in full view during CMBO's final "Clapper Rail Madness"
walk on May 2. On the saltmarsh at Jakes Landing WILLETS, FORSTER'S
TERNS, SEASIDE SPARROWS, and MEADOWLARKS have been in full song and also
easy to see. Along the wooded portion of Jakes Landing Road bird songs
include GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, WHITE-EYED
VIREO, WOOD THRUSH, and many more. The field on Jakes Landing Road now
has calling BLUE GROSBEAK, PRAIRIE WARBLER, and more. It's 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 shorebirds, herons,
egrets, Ospreys, and maybe even a rail or two as the boat travels
through the saltmarsh and back bays (call Wildlife Unlimited, call
609-884-3100 to register for these CMBO-sponsored trips). A special
"Cruisin' for Chicks" trip is scheduled Saturday, June 14, from 5 to 8
p.m. -- peak time to see newly hatched FORSTER'S TERNS, AMERICAN
OYSTERCATCHERS, CLAPPER RAILS, LAUGHING GULLS, OSPREY, and more! Sign
up by calling (609) 861-0700, x-11.
Many trees are fully leafed out, others still look gauzy. LILACS and
VIBURNUMS are blooming. BLUEBERRY bell-shaped blossoms are pulling in
hungry hummingbirds. BEACH PLUM is waning, but was dazzling just a
short time ago & might still be enjoyed in the dunes at Higbee Beach.
Keep an eye out on the Beach Plum blossoms for JUNIPER HAIRSTREAKS and
other nectaring butterflies. Learn how to identify wildflowers at the
CMBO "Introduction to Wildflower Identification" program on Saturday,
June 14. Call (609) 861-0700, x11, to register. PINE POLLEN, a dense
yellow dusting, is covering everything every day now. Many ornamental
fruit trees are in full bloom. Marsh grasses (SPARTINA ALTERNIFLORA) are
greening up. BEES are suddenly all over lawns enjoying DANDELIONS and
other spring blooms. Flocks of GLOSSY IBIS, GREAT EGRETS, and SNOWY
EGRETS are regular now passing back and forth over the Cape May
Peninsula. CATTLE EGRETS are strutting around in unmowed fields eating
Sunny warms days bring out the reptiles. PAINTED TURTLES, SNAPPING
TURTLES, BOX TURTLES, RED-BELLIED TURTLES, BLACK RAT SNAKES, and
NORTHERN WATER SNAKES are all being seen now. Amphibians have been
active for some time now, and FROGS are extremely vocal on May nights.
Listen for SPRING PEEPER, S. GRAY TREE FROGS, FOWLER'S TOADS, N. CRICKET
FROGS, NEW JERSEY CHORUS FROGS, CARPENTER FROGS, GREEN FROGS, and
SOUTHERN LEOPARD FROGS. CMBO's dragonfly pond is full of growing
FOWLER'S TOAD tadpoles.
If you'd like to learn as you help CMBO maintain its gardens in Goshen,
join Karen Williams Friday, May 23 (9:30 a.m.-Noon) for a "Garden
Maintenance Workshop." 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"
Friday, May 9, (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Spring Migrants at the Rea Farm"
Saturday, May 24, (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Raptors and Songbirds of Delaware
Bayshore" Sunday, May 25 (8-10 a.m.), "Birding for First Timers" Sunday,
May 25 (1-3 p.m.), "Mondays at the Meadows" every Monday (7:30-9:30
a.m.), "Leader's Choice Bird Walk" every Tuesday (7:30-9:30 a.m.),
"Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point & Nummy's Island" every Tuesday (6
p.m. to dusk), "Birding Cape May Point" every Wednesday (7:30-9:30
a.m.). Full details about cost & meeting place can be found at NJ
Audubon's web site:
CMBO's full listing of spring programs (April - June) is posted on New
Jersey Audubon's web site at
http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html CMBO's 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:
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!
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)