Cape May Natural History Hotline - 6/27/2003

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 27 (and will next be updated on July 10). 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.

Finally some SUN and with it some heat! And with the sun and the heat, butterflies and dragonflies at last . . . just in time for CMBO's 3 back-to-back Butterfly Counts: Belleplain on June 24, Cumberland County on June 25, and Cape May on June 26. Still with a few parties sightings outstanding, @ 42-43 species were seen on each of these three counts. Highlights include: the first ever PINE ELFIN (on June 24, a month later than expected), 18 BOG COPPER (all fresh!) on the Tuckahoe River, 1 NORTHERN' OAK HAIRSTREAK (Dix WMA), RARE SKIPPER (Dix WMA and CMBO Center Gardens in Goshen ), 4 HOARY EDGE (1 in Woodbine, 4 at Beaver Dam in Cumberland Co.), seeing THE day some butterflies emerged (NO HACKBERRY EMPERORS on June 24, 1 on June 25 near Millville, and lots by June 27), APPALACHIAN BROWNS at fruit late in the evening on June 25, HAYHURST'S SCALLOPWING (in the CMBO gardens in Goshen and in Port Norris in Cumberland County). Low spots include: few hairstreaks & low numbers of those (CORAL HAIRSTREAK, BANDED HAIRSTREAK, STRIPED HAIRSTREAK, GRAY HAIRSTREAK, RED-BANDED HAIRSTREAK), no COMMON WOOD NYMPH (yet), low numbers of the skippers that we normally have the national high for (no doubt because they haven't emerged yet). There was a good showing of: BLACK, E. TIGER, and SPICEBUSH SWALLOWTAIL, CABBAGE WHITE, CLOUDED & ORANGE SULPHUR, AMERICAN COPPER, E. TAILED BLUE, SUMMER AZURE, VARIEGATED FRITILLARY, QUESTION MARK, AMERICAN LADY, PAINTED LADY (a few), COMMON BUCKEYE (a few), RED-SPOTTED PURPLE, MONARCH (a few), LITTLE WOOD SATYR, SILVER-SPOTTED SKIPPER, S. CLOUDYWING (a few), N. CLOUDYWING, SWARTHY SKIPPER, EUROPEAN SKIPPER (many more than usual), DELAWARE SKIPPER, AARON'S SKIPPER (100s), BROAD-WINGED SKIPPER, DUN SKIPPER, SALTMARSH SKIPPER.

A dish of gooey fruit right now can pull in QUESTION MARK (lots), RED ADMIRAL, HACKBERRY EMPEROR, LITTLE WOOD SATYR, and APPALACHIAN BROWN. One such dish in Goshen attracted a NESSUS SPHINX during the day, a beautiful moth with two bold yellow bands on the abdomen.

A major DRAGONFLY MIGRATION occurred after 6:30 p.m. on June 23rd involving 1,000s of COMMON GREEN DARNERS and a few BLACK SADDLEBAGS heading north up the peninsula. On June 22 a fair movement of dragonflies was also observed at the Rea Farm, involving mostly SPOT-WINGED GLIDERS and some BLUE DASHERS and COMMON GREEN DARNERS. WIDOW SKIMMER was seen off Rt. 618 in Cape May Co., mating BANDED PENNANT at Shaw's Mill Pond in Cumberland County, and at a number of sites: SPANGLED SKIMMER, SLATY SKIMMER, 12-SPOTTED SKIMMER, COMMON WHITETAIL, BLUE DASHER, CALICO PENNANT, CAROLINA SADDLEBAG, BLACK SADDLEBAG, and WANDERING GLIDER. 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 and many adult dragonflies patrolling the pond, mating, and laying eggs. Join Pat Sutton at the Cape May Bird Observatory Center in Goshen (600 Rt. 47 North) each Wednesday, July 9 through mid-October (10:00 a.m. to Noon) for a "Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk in CMBO's Gardens."

Up to 20 FINBACK WHALES have been seen 13-18 miles off Cape May, since about June 22. Whale Watching boat trips for whales are also encountering GREATER SHEARWATERS and 100s of WILSON'S STORM PETREL. A mother and calf HUMPBACK WHALE were seen 18 miles off Lewes, Delaware on June 22. It's the peak of the egg-laying season for DIAMONDBACK TERRAPIN. Look for their pointy snouts as they swim along the shoreline of the Delaware Bay and look towards the beach for likely nesting sites. Be alert for them as you're driving coastal areas since many cross roads.

The first PURPLE MARTINS eggs hatched @ June 25, while other pairs just finished laying their full clutch. If all goes well one Purple Martin house at Cape May Point State Park could fledge 54 young according to Martin Mentor, Dave Thomas. And at CMBO's Martin houses at the Center in Goshen 26 young could fledge. 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, July 11 thru August 1, from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. (weather permitting: canceled on rainy days) at the CMBO Center in Goshen. The house will be lowered, nests checked, eggs counted, hatching dates predicted, and fledging dates predicted. With so many nests at different stages it will be a terrific learning opportunity.

As soon as the rains @ June 21 and temperatures soared, RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS were back at CMBO's feeders in force, so the JAPANESE HONEYSUCKLE blooms must be waning. Treat yourself to good looks and lots of learning bout hummingbirds by attending one of CMBO's "The Buzz About Hummingbirds," every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday beginning July 9th at CMBO's Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North). Remember to thoroughly wash & refill your feeders at least once a week, and more frequently in the extreme heat. CMBO carries HummZinger feeders, which are one of the easiest feeders to clean and very well-thought out. Stop by & check them out.

Many sightings of hen WILD TURKEYS with their young came in June 24-26 from all over Cape May and Cumberland County. The OSPREY NEST on Jakes Landing Road is successful with 2 small youngsters. As we've learned of so many Osprey nests that failed, this sight is heartening. Go to http://www.cumauriceriver.org to view one of the successful nests on the Maurice River.

The HORSESHOE CRAB harvest is underway and trucks are so full that live crabs are being found on road shoulders as they tumble off trucks. Join NJ Audubon's 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 SALTMARSH is a glowing green. COMMON MILKWEED is beginning to bloom and draw in bees and butterflies & egg-laying MONARCHS. Savor it's sweet fragrance. SWEETBAY MAGNOLIA is in bloom and deliciously fragrant along wet corridors all over South Jersey right now. MOUNTAIN LAUREL is nearly done blooming. The lovely white blossoms on ARROWWOOD (VIBURNUM DENTATUM) can still be enjoyed along roadsides. The Cape May Bird Observatory's gardens are dazzling and becoming more so day-by-day. 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. A special "Summer Wildflowers" field trip still has room on Saturday, July 19 (9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700 to register.

Natural areas look like lush green jungles with all the rain we've had this spring. The CMBO Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North) has plants for sale for butterfly & hummingbird gardens and wildlife gardens. The center is open daily 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and selection changes weekly as different plants are ready. This week's selection includes the following. For butterflies (perennials): New England Aster, Boltonia, Nodding Onion, Sedum, Blazing Star (Liatris), Bee Balm, and Perennial Sunflower. For hummingbirds (perennials): Hummingbird Mint, Eastern Columbine, Bee Balm, and Cardinal Flower. For butterfly caterpillars: Sweet Everlasting (a perennial, American Lady), Elderberry (a shrub, Cecropia Moth), Viburnum (a shrub, Snowberry Clearwing, one of the Hummingbird Moths), Red Cedar (a tree, for Olive' Juniper Hairstreak), Spicebush (a shrub, for Spicebush Swallowtail), and Tulip Tree (a tree, for Tiger Swallowtail). Trees, Shrubs, & Vines for bird food (berries, fruits): Crabapple, various Viburnums, Red Cedar, Black Chokeberry, Elderberry, Sour Gum (a tree), Virginia Creeper (a vine). In addition SEEDS are available for sale for Brazilian Verbena (irresistible to butterflies summer through frost), Tropical or Texas Salvia (hummingbirds can't resist), and Cardinal Climber (another hummingbird magnet, great for arbors, trellises, fences!).

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," Sunday, June 29 (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, 6 pairs of AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (& 4 growing chicks), and visitors like BLACK & ROYAL TERN being seen too. To see the nesting marsh birds, treat yourself to one of the "Back Bay Birding By Boat" cruises, every Sunday and Monday (10:00 a.m. to Noon) as the boat travels through the saltmarsh and back bays (call Wildlife Unlimited, call 609-884-3100 to register for these CMBO-sponsored trips).

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 earlier this spring and 3 chicks can still be enjoyed. LEAST TERNS and a pair of AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER can also be enjoyed, as well as WILSON'S STORM PETREL by scanning offshore. Additional regularly scheduled walks that require no preregistration and will help you enjoy birding and summer's nesting birds include: Birding Cape May Point" every Wednesday and Saturday (7:30-9:30 a.m.) and "Start Birding Today!" every Thursday (10-11 a.m.). To savor the peak time when adult shorebirds return consider joining Mark Garland for a special "Shorebird Roundup at Forsythe (Brigantine) NWR" on Friday, July 25 (10 a.m.-3 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700 to register. 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 CMBO's Program Schedule, stop at one of the two centers, call the office during business hours at 609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's web site where a full listing of SUMMER 2003 PROGRAMS (June-August) is posted 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!

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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