Cape May Natural History Hotline - 6/18/2004

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 update was made on Friday, June 18. 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.

CMBO's June 12 "Cruisin' for Chicks" trip aboard the Skimmer discovered a CLAPPER RAIL nest on the edge of a creek with a newly hatched itsy, bitsy, black Clapper Rail chick and 2 eggs. Many marsh-nesting birds did survive the Full Moon high tides of June 3 and the trip enjoyed lots of tiny LAUGHING GULL chicks tucked in under the wings of the adults, WILLET chicks, COMMON TERN chicks at saltmarsh nests (an oddity since most nest at places like Stone Harbor Point), a few FORSTER'S TERN chicks, OSPREY chicks (the first to hatch was May 28), and PEREGRINES that are probably nesting again at a structure on the marsh! Sunday and Monday "Back Bay Birding By Boat" trips (10:00 a.m. till Noon) aboard the Skimmer are sponsored by CMBO and will be enjoying this watery world that is often inaccessible.

A "Kayak Trip to Pickle Factory Pond and East Creek Lake" on Tuesday, June 22 (7 a.m.-Noon), still has room -- savor breeding birds of freshwater swamps (Prothonotary Warblers, Wood Ducks), dragonflies, hunting Bald Eagles, and kayak like a pro even if you've never done it before with the expert help of Jeff Martin and Aqua Trails (training session part of trip). "Pinelands Explorations" with Mark Garland on Sunday, June 26 (9 a.m.-4 p.m.) promises wildflowers, butterflies, nesting birds, and wild country from Webb's Mill Bog west to Atsion in the heart of the NJ Pine Barrens! To register for either, call 609-861-0700 (x-11). Spaces are limited!

The Stone Harbor Point beach nesting bird colony is spectacular and, despite super high tides that flooded the point leading up to and during the June 3 Full Moon, nests on the higher grassy areas seemed to have survived (COMMON TERNS and BLACK SKIMMERS). Many birds that lost nests are already renesting. Two pairs of GULL-BILLED TERNS will probably nest there again this summer. Several dozen pairs of LEAST TERNS have settled down and begun to nest in two different areas at the point. And there are still lots of PIPING PLOVERS (there were 9 pairs there before the Full Moon). Those that lost nests have settled down and appear to be renesting. To savor Stone Harbor Point don't miss "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point," every Tuesday (6:00 p.m. till dusk), meeting in the Stone Harbor Point parking lot at the south end of Stone Harbor.

The noisy, active tern colony at Stone Harbor Point continues to attract non-nesting rarities: ARCTIC (12th), ROSEATE (12th & 15th), ROYAL (12th, 13th & 15th). At the peak time to study terns CMBO is offering it's next Cape May Birding Workshop: on "Terns" July 28 (last year 10 species were studied side-by-side in late July). Additional "Cape May Birding Workshops" include: "Butterflies" August 11, "Shorebirds" August 24-25, "Fall Warblers, Empid Flycatchers, Vireos, and other landbirds" September 1-2, "Fall Migration" September 18-22, "Raptors" September 25-26, 27-28, "Raptor Migration" October 24-28, "Sparrows" October 23-24, "Waterfowl" November 20-21, and "Wintering Owls, Hawks, & Eagles" January 21-24. To learn more & download a registration form for the Cape May Birding Workshops, go to NJ Audubon's web site at: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks04.html The "2004 Cape May Birding Workshop" brochure is available at either CMBO Center or call 609-861-0700, x-11, to have a copy sent to you.

June 8, the NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program conducted the final weekly aerial survey (of 6) along the Delaware Bayshore. This bay-wide shorebird survey (NJ & DE) clearly showed they had largely left: 540 RED KNOT, 550 RUDDY TURNSTONES, 4,200 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER, 750 SANDERLING, -0- DOWITCHER and DUNLIN. This year's shorebird numbers were frighteningly low! To learn more about the efforts of NJ Audubon Society and other conservation groups to secure the conservation of shorebirds and Horseshoe Crabs and to learn what YOU can do, go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Conservation/HScrabalert.html

On June 11 at The Nature Conservancy's Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge, also known a "The Meadows," WILLOW FLYCATCHERS were busily feeding noisy young in a nest in Groundsel-tree along the East Path near the split rail fence. Amazing how this bird was absent May 15 for the World Series of Birding ... they hadn't yet arrived. And by June 11 they already have noisy young. It all happens so fast! Also on the East Path near the beach a male LEAST BITTERN is consistently feeding on the back side of the pond east of the path. He feeds, scoots back into the deep marsh, and reappears soon after to resume hunting. One can only wonder if the nest isn't nearby! It's summer and time to scan for WILSON'S STORM PETREL dancing over the waters off Cape May and Cape May Point's beaches as they hunt for bits of food on the water surface. 6-8 were seen from the Concrete Ship on June 11. BROWN PELICANS (small numbers seen each summer for a number of years now) are back and also being seen feeding in the waters off the beachfront or flying by (12 were seen June 10). On June 16, Cape May Point State Park's beach (which has really built up) was full of PIPING PLOVER families: 7 adults and 7 young (3 newly hatched that day, 1 chick 2 weeks old, and 3 chicks 2 weeks old). The PURPLE MARTIN colony at Cape May Point State Park, maintained by CMBO volunteer and Purple Martin landlord, Dave Thomas, had 101 young and 35 eggs yet to hatch on June 16! Every compartment is filled in two houses complimented with 4 gourds each! Enjoy summer birds by joining one of CMBO scheduled walks with the local experts: (1) every Monday, "Mondays at The Meadows" meets at 7:30 a.m. at TNC's refuge parking lot on Sunset Boulevard, (2) every Wednesday, " Birding Cape May Point" meets at 7:30 a.m. in the "South Shelter" raised pavilion at the Cape May Point State Park, (3) every Friday, "Sunset Birding at the Meadows" meets at 6:30 p.m. at TNC's refuge parking lot on Sunset Boulevard, and (4) every Sunday through June 27, "Welcome to Cape May" with Senior Naturalist Mark Garland meets at 2:00 p.m. at the CMBO Northwood Center. If you're a beginner, join Judy Lukens Sunday, June 27, for "Birding for First Timers" (1-3 p.m.), meeting on the Wildlife Viewing Platform in Cape May Point State Park.

The saltmarshes at Goshen Landing and Jakes Landing are alive with breeding marsh birds: dozens of SEASIDE SPARROWS buzzing and MARSH WRENS burbling, a few E. KINGBIRDS hunting insects (probably Seaside Dragonlets), CLAPPER RAILS clapping and squawking, and all while flock after flock of GLOSSY IBIS, GREAT EGRET, and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON fly overhead as they trade back and forth between their nesting colonies on the ocean side of the peninsula and their favored feeding sites along the Delaware Bayshore. GREEN HEADS and MOSQUITOES are out in force too!

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD activity increased dramatically in the last week! Feeders are emptying every 3 days! Be sure to maintain your feeders, especially when it's hot, by cleaning them thoroughly every 3-5 days and refilling with fresh solution. Also compliment feeders with a wildlife garden. CMBO has a number of workshops coming up on the nest two Saturdays to cover all the bases: (1) Saturday, June 19 (11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), "Dragons & Damsels in CMBO's Gardens" (creating a dragonfly pond will be covered), (2) June 19 (1-3 p.m.), "Create a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife," (3) Saturday, June 26 (11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) "Gardening for Butterfly Caterpillars," and (4) June 26 (2-4 p.m.) "Create a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden." These and other opportunities are featured on NJ Audubon's web site at: http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat/Index.html

A terrific selection of hard to find wildlife plants is on sale at CMBO's center in Goshen. Selection changes weekly, so stop by often! The current selection is posted on the "Backyard Habitat" pages on NJ Audubon's website. CMBO invites gardeners (no experience necessary) to help maintain CMBO's wildlife gardens at the Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North). Join Karen Williams each Friday, 9:30 a.m. to noon, for a weekly "Garden Maintenance Workshop," where you work in the CMBO gardens while learning from Karen about gardening for wildlife.

TRUMPET CREEPER is just beginning to bloom. This native vine with orange/red trumpet-shaped flowers is a favorite with hummingbirds. ELDERBERRY, VIBURNUM, PRIVET, DAY LILIES, COMMON MILKWEED (extremely fragrant & a magnet for butterflies), and PICKERELWEED (also a magnet for butterflies) are all blooming this week.

An OWLFLY was seen in the meadow at the CMBO Center in Goshen on June 15. This large insect resembles a dragonfly but with butterfly-like antennae. Tiny (" long) young PREYING MANTIS are being seen in CMBO's gardens and elsewhere this week.

Butterflies reported this week: BANDED HAIRSTREAK (6/14 in Peaslee WMA), PIPEVINE SWALLOWTAIL (30 in Heislervile on 6/6 and their caterpillars on pipevine), SALTMARSH SKIPPERS (6/13). Dragonflies reported this week: a RIVER CRUISER (6/14 in Peaslee WMA), 100s of SEASIDE DRAGONLETS on and near saltmarshes, many CALICO PENNANT and dozens of emerging dragonflies (6/9 near pond in back field at Higbee Beach). The evening of June 8 and the morning of June 9 a major dragonfly happening was witnessed at Sandy Hook by NJ Audubon naturalist Scott Barnes, involving several thousand individuals ... hundreds in sight at all times the entire 5 miles from the entrance to the K-field, involving Common Green Darner, Comet Darner, Painted Skimmer, Blue Dasher (by far the most abundant), Black Saddlebags, and Carolina Saddlebags.

Dozens to hundreds of DIAMONDBACK TERRAPIN are still being seen coming out of the Delaware Bay waters and journeying into the dunes to lay their eggs. Many were seen on June 16 at Fortescue in Cumberland County.

The Cape May Bird Observatory offers hundreds of programs ... many more than those briefly mentioned here. CMBO's SUMMER (June-August 2004) Program Schedule is posted on NJ Audubon's web site (and available at either center or request a copy by calling 609-861-0700): http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

A NEW exhibit of Prominent North American Bird Artists has just opened at CMBO's Center in Goshen (open daily: 9-4:30). Stop by and be dazzled.

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!

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