Cape May Natural History Hotline - 6/13/2003
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 Friday, June 13. 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.

Thousands of shorebirds were still gathered on the Delaware Bay beaches feeding on Horseshoe Crab eggs on Friday, June 6. By Saturday, June 7, they were gone . . . having left in the night; one observer at Fortescue counted only 13 Sanderlings on June 7. NJ Audubon has launched a grass roots campaign asking for the Governor of NJ to enact an immediate moratorium on harvest of horseshoe crabs. Details on how you can help can be found at: http://www.njaudubon.org/Conservation/HScrabalert.html

The few HOT days we've had have really activated turtles (mostly MUD TURTLE & BOX TURTLE) and snakes. Sadly dozens have been hit by cars. One RAT SNAKE was zig-zagged across a road taking a sun bath on the warm asphalt when a keen naturalist popped on his car's flashers, pulled to the side, & dashed out to rescue it. A ROUGH GREEN SNAKE was found at Higbee Beach on June 6.

MOUNTAIN LAUREL is in full bloom in Belleplain State Forest, at Jakes Landing Road, and elsewhere. The lovely white blossoms on ARROWWOOD (VIBURNUM DENTATUM) adorn roadsides now. The Cape May Bird Observatory's gardens are coming into their own, lush with color. If you'd like to learn as you help CMBO maintain these gardens in Goshen, join Karen Williams every Friday (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. Another terrific opportunity to learn, includes CMBO's "Introduction to Wildflower Identification" with Mark Garland on Saturday, June 14. Call (609) 861-0700, x-11, to register. Enjoy all elements of the natural world with Mark Garland during "The Nature of Cape May," on June 19 (9:00 to 11:00 a.m.) at the Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area.

A special "Cruisin' for Chicks" trip still has room (Saturday, June 14: 5-8 p.m.). OSPREY and LAUGHING GULL chicks are hatching now. Herons and egrets are on their hidden nests with newly hatched young. Many of the other marsh nesting birds lost their nests to flooding during super high tides and northeasters in May, but many of these birds are resilient and have already renested, so the activity is still at a peak for FORSTER'S TERNS, AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS, CLAPPER RAILS, and more! Sign up by calling (609) 861-0700, x-11. "Back Bay Birding By Boat" cruises, every Sunday and Monday (10:00 a.m. to Noon), offer comfortable and close looks at shorebirds, herons, egrets, Ospreys feeding their young, and maybe even a Clapper 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).

The Stone Harbor Point colony of nesting terns is dazzling this year! To fully drink it in, join CMBO Associate Naturalists Gail Dwyer & Dick Turner for CMBO's "Stone Harbor Point Bird Walk," every Sunday (7:30-9:30 a.m.). There are 5-6 pairs of PIPING PLOVER, @ 200-300 BLACK SKIMMERS, 60+ pairs of LEAST TERNS, 70-80+ pairs of COMMON TERNS, 2 pairs of GULL-BILLED TERNS, and 6 pairs of AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (& 4 growing chicks).

PURPLE MARTINS that survived this wet, cold spring began laying eggs on June 6 at the Cape May Point State Park colony, almost two weeks later than normal. The colony at the Cape May Bird Observatory Center in Goshen has 9 nests being built, but no eggs yet. Any day! Learn all about Purple Martins, how to attract them, what their habitat needs are, proper housing, precautions, and maintenance needed to ensure a successful colony by joining Pat Sutton during the "Purple Martin Nest Check" every Friday (thru August 1) from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. (weather permitting: canceled on rainy days) at the CMBO Center in Goshen.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS are now on nests at the CMBO Center in Goshen. The CORAL HONEYSUCKLE (a beautiful native honeysuckle) and RED HOT POKER are in full bloom and attracting them as well as CMBO's well-maintained hummingbird feeders. Be sure to keep your feeders clean, by thoroughly washing & refilling at least once a week, even if use is minimal. CMBO carries HummZinger feeders, which are one of the easiest feeders to clean and very well-thought out. Stop by & check them out.

Sunny, warm days are needed to see butterflies and dragonflies, since they are solar powered. Enjoyed this week in CMBO's gardens in Goshen and elsewhere were: TIGER SWALLOWTAIL, BLACK SWALLOWTAIL (and their caterpillars on Bronze Fennel), CABBAGE WHITE, OLIVE' JUNIPER HAIRSTREAK, E. TAILED BLUE, PEARL CRESCENT, QUESTION MARK (laying eggs on hops vine), AMERICAN LADY caterpillars on Sweet Everlasting, MOURNING CLOAK, RED ADMIRAL (& their caterpillars on Stinging Nettle) , SILVER-SPOTTED SKIPPER, LEAST SKIPPER, and ZABULON SKIPPER. Dragons and damsels enjoyed this week include: COMMON GREEN DARNER, SEASIDE DRAGONLET, and FRAGILE FORKTAIL. Their season has been held up by all the cold and rain. Join Pat Sutton at the Cape May Bird Observatory Center in Goshen (600 Rt. 47 North) each Wednesday (10:00 a.m. to Noon) for a "Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk in CMBO's Gardens." CMBO's dragonfly pond in Goshen has been an overwintering nursery for many dragonflies; we're finding shed skins for individuals that have emerged as winged adults.

Two opportunities to bird and learn the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge (also fondly called, "The Meadows") include: (1) "Mondays at the Meadows" walk, every Monday (7:30-9:30 a.m.) and (2) "Sunset Birding at the Meadows," every Friday (6:30-8:30 p.m.). These walks are now enjoying the nesting birds that will be here all summer. The PIPING PLOVER nest here is one of the few that was not lost to flooding this spring and 3 chicks can now be enjoyed. WILSON'S STORM PETREL are being seen regularly on walks here by scanning offshore. A VIRGINIA RAIL was enjoyed here on June 9.

Additional regularly scheduled walks that require no preregistration and will help you enjoy birding and summer's nesting birds include: "Birding for First Timers" every Sunday (1-3 p.m.) and "Birding Cape May Point" every Wednesday (7:30-9:30 a.m.). CMBO's full listing of SUMMER 2003 PROGRAMS (June-August) is posted on New Jersey Audubon's web site at http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html If you are not a member and would like to receive a copy of the Cape May Bird Observatory's program schedule, 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 mentioned above.

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!

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)

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