CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY AND EVENTS HOTLINE, June 5, 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 Saturday, June 5, and will be updated next on
Thursday, June 17. 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.
The warm spring has resulted in butterflies emerging 3 weeks ahead of
schedule according to Dale Schweitzer. 30 species were enjoyed in late May
in Cumberland County in Buckshutem WMA. On June 3, 26 species were tallied
on the Maurice River, including: AMERICAN COPPER (100), RED-BANDED
HAIRSTREAK, PEARL CRESCENT, QUESTION MARK, MOURNING CLOAK, AMERICAN LADY,
COMMON BUCKEYE, RED-SPOTTED PURPLE, SILVER-SPOTTED SKIPPER, S. CLOUDYWING,
SWARTHY (6), LEAST, EUROPEAN, TAWNY-EDGED, DELAWARE (8), ZABULON (6),
AARON'S (150), and DUN SKIPPER. A HAYHURST'S SCALLOWPWING was seen May 27
at Bivalve and one on June 4 in CMBO's gardens in Goshen. PICKERELWEED is
in full bloom in CMBO's dragonfly pond at the center in Goshen and full of
(24+) and SWARTHY SKIPPERS (3) on June 2. AMERICAN SNOUT are active where
HACKBERRY TREES grow. BLACK SWALLOWTAILS are laying eggs on the Bronze
Fennel in CMBO's gardens in Goshen, and sizable caterpillars can be seen now
as a result of eggs laid a week or two ago. PIPEVINE SWALLOWTAILS (3
different individuals) have been frequenting a garden in Villas since May 30
and have been laying eggs on Pipevine.
CALICO PENNANTS were thick at Hibee Beach on June 4. A TWELVE-SPOTTED
SKIMMER patrolled CMBO's dragonfly pond on June 4. CAROLINA and BLACK
SADDLEBAGS were also enjoyed this week. Lots of dragonflies are emerging
from CMBO's dragonfly pond in Goshen and their exuviae can be found clinging
to upright emergent pond vegetation. Pat Sutton will lead a dragonfly walk
around CMBO's wildlife pond and share what makes a pond successful for tham
during "Dragons & Damsels in CMBO's Gardens (in Goshen)" on Saturday, June
19 (11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.). No need to preregister, just come!
The native pink wild roses are in bloom now and very fragrant, PASTURE or
CAROLINA ROSE with its straight thorns and SWAMP ROSE with its curved
thorns. Don't miss Mark Garland's "Introduction to Wildflower
Identification" on Saturday, June 12, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. A special
driving tour of 40 of Cape May County's Giant Trees on Friday, June 18 (10
a.m. to 3 p.m.) still has room. Three different Tuesday morning Kayak trips
are scheduled to explore Pickle Factory Pond & East Creek Lake (June 22 and
July 27) and Bidwell's Creek (August 17). For more information or to
register, call 609-861-0700, x-11.
The first BALD EAGLETS fledged (flew from their nests) on June 3 at three
different nest sites in New Jersey. Other young are quite huge, busy
flapping their wings from the nest edge, and will soon follow.
OSPREY are everywhere this spring and seem to be having a very good nesting
season, always overhead with a fish flying back to a nest.
HORSESHOE CRABS came up in good numbers during the evening high tide to
lay their eggs on the Delaware Bay beaches leading up to and since the Full
Moon on June 3rd. The tideline at Gandy's Beach in Cumberland County was
awash in green crab eggs. June 3 the tideline at Kimbel's Beach was full of
two-week old eggs: swollen and transparent, where the young crabs could be
seen swimming around inside the egg! They're about the size of a pin head.
A number of shed shells (@ 7/8" across) from recently molted Horseshoe Crabs
were also in the tideline. These treasures might still be found and studied
at various beaches along the Delaware Bay. Horseshoe Crabs will continue to
journey up onto the sandy beaches along the Delaware Bay to mate & lay eggs
through June (each female comes ashore 20 times to lay a nest of eggs in the
two-month period). DIAMONDBACK TERRAPIN are still coming out of the
Delaware Bay waters and up onto the beaches and heading into the high ground
in the dunes to lay their eggs.
Fair numbers of shorebirds were still on the beaches feeding the morning
of June 3 and may linger a few more days, but then they'll be gone as if a
switch was thrown. State biologist, Kathy Clark, reports that many RED KNOT
have left, but @ 7,000 were still here on June 1 during the bay-wide (NJ &
DE) aerial survey. Last week's peak count (13,300 Red Knot) is an all-time
low for the Bayshore survey.
Turnstone numbers declined also from last week's peak count of 45,400 (which
was below average too). The June 1 survey also tallied: 31,700 RUDDY
TURNSTONES, 68,200 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER, 4,000 SANDERLING, and
5 DUNLIN. The last aerial survey of the spring will be conducted on June 8.
Biologists from the NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program and other
concerned agencies have made annual expeditions to the Canadian Arctic in
search of breeding Red Knot since 2000 and are gearing up for this year's
trip. To learn of information gathered during past trips and to follow this
year's trip go to:
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:
The same high tides that triggered another excellent egg laying for
Horseshoe Crabs also "hit" many of the coastal beach nesting bird colonies
and flooded nests with eggs on June 1, including Stone Harbor Point. Young
shorebirds are precocious and can run around as soon as they're born, so
those that had already hatched survived, including some PIPING PLOVER chicks
and AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER chicks that have been seen since the high tides.
Many beach-nesting birds that lost their eggs to the tides will renest. As
of May 26 the Stone Harbor Point nesting colony contained 400-800 BLACK
SKIMMERS (this is the largest skimmer colony in NJ), 1,000 COMMON TERNS, 2
pairs of GULL-BILLED TERNS, 40 pairs of LEAST TERNS, 6 pairs of AMERICAN
OYSTERCATCHER (several of which are already on their second nesting attempt
after having lost nests during an earlier high tide), and 9 pairs of PIPING
PLOVER (with the first young due to hatch May 28). To see first hand the
power to survive, be sure to accompany CMBO naturalists during the "Sunset
Birding at Stone Harbor Point" walks every Tuesday (6:00 p.m. till dusk),
meeting in the Stone Harbor Point parking lot at the south end of Stone
Two very special "Cruisin' for Chicks" trips aboard the Skimmer are
scheduled for Saturday, June 12 (3-6 p.m.), and Thursday, June 17 (5-8
p.m.). With the recent high tides, it will be a real education to see how
many (if any) nests survived in the colonies of Forster's and Common Terns,
Laughing Gulls, American Oystercatcher, Osprey, and Clapper Rails! Heron
rookeries are well along and will be a highlight of these trips! Make a day
of it on June 12, and also consider signing up for the "Tidal Marsh
Exploration" with marine biologist Karen Williams (8:30 a.m. till Noon).
Spaces are limited on each (call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register).
The intense gull and tern activity pulls in rarities like those mentioned
above. 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:
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.
Female RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS are busy feeding young now. If you have
one regularly coming to your feeders and gardens, consider sitting quietly
and watching to see the direction she flies off to. Chances are her nest is
within sight of your feeder and gardens. Be apprised that the female raises
the young all on her own. If you have feeders hung, be sure to maintain
them properly especially when it's hot, by cleaning them thoroughly every
3-5 days and refilling with fresh solution. Be sure to compliment feeders
with a wildlife garden. Learn how by going to:
Pat Sutton will teach an indoor / outdoor "Backyard Habitat for
Wildlife: The Basics" workshop on Saturday, June 19 (1-3 p.m.) at the CMBO
Center in Goshen. No need to preregister, just come! 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! Each week's 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 (except May 21), 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.
One CMBO regular garden volunteer writes:
I am a very enthusiastic gardener. Since 2001, after taking CMBO
courses with Karen Williams and Pat Sutton about gardening for butterflies,
hummingbirds and birds, I have created 5 new garden beds for wildlife. I
thought I had more than enough to do in my own gardens, but found I had many
questions and no one to ask so I regularly volunteer at the CMBO gardens in
Goshen. A friend and an active garden volunteer shared that while
volunteering I would get my questions answered and learn tons of important
stuff about gardening.
And I have. I now recognize some weeds as they emerge instead of having to
let them grow 2 feet tall before deciding to pull them. I know when and how
to prune shrubs to encourage strong growth. Our front, back, and side yards
are alive with birds and butterflies thanks to what I have learned at the
CMBO Gardens. The socializing and friendships garnered during these times
is a superb extra bonus!
The first PURPLE MARTIN chick hatched on June 2 at the Cape May Point
State Park. Purple Martin landlord, Dave Thomas, maintains this colony and
also counted 148 eggs in the two houses.
Breeding birds at Higbee Beach on May 29 were very active and
included: BLUE GROSBEAK, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, INDIGO BUNTING, PRAIRIE
WARBLER, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, FIELD SPARROW, RED-EYED and WHITE-EYED VIREO,
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, and E. WOOD PEWEE. Enjoy summer birds by joining one
of CMBO weekly walks with local experts. Walks in the vicinity of Cape May
include: (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, "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 13 & 27, for "Birding for First
Timers" (2-4 p.m.), meeting on the Wildlife Viewing Platform in Cape May
Point State Park. Sunday and Monday "Back Bay Birding By Boat" trips (10:00
til Noon) aboard the Skimmer are sponsored by CMBO.
The Cape May Bird Observatory offers many, many other programs than those
briefly mentioned here. CMBO's SUMMER (June-August 2004) Program Schedule
is posted on NJ Audubon's web site:
http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html . The Summer program
schedule is available at either center (or request a copy be sent; call
"FINE FEATHERS: Selected Works of Prominent North American Bird Artists"
will be on display at CMBO's Center in Goshen (open daily:
9-4:30) through mid-June featuring works by John Sill, Sophie Webb, Julie
Zickefoose, Keith Hansen, Jonathan Alderfer, Mimi Hoppe Wolf, and Cynthia
House to name a few!
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!