Cape May Natural History Hotline - 7/10/2003
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 Thursday, 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.

It's baby bird time, both big baby birds & tiny baby birds! New Jersey's 38 pairs of BALD EAGLES raised 40 young this spring in 24 nests. 10 nests failed and several pairs did not nest this year. On June 3 the first young eagle fledged (left the nest) in the vicinity of the Cohansey River. 16 other young eagles fledged between mid and late June. Many others are due to fledge this week and next.

OSPREY have not had a very good breeding year. Of 18 regularly-used nest platforms on the back bay marshes between Cape May and Stone Harbor Point, 16 were used this spring. Of those 16, 10 failed! Some think that the cold, wet spring was responsible. Cold water kept the fish deep & forced the adults to be out hunting longer and hence away from the nest & their vulnerable young during lengthy rainy & cold stretches. The 6 remaining nests have 11 growing young in them. On Jakes Landing Road a successful Osprey nest can easily be seen using your car as a blind by stopping on the road out to the parking lot (stop ONLY if there is no traffic on the road; thank you for this "good birding etiquette"). From the parking lot or from the forest edge a scope offers an excellent look at this nest. Treat yourself! Go to http://www.cumauriceriver.org to view one of the successful nests on the Maurice River.

The Cape May Bird Observatory's gardens & feeders in Goshen exploded with RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD activity on July 9, including newly fledged young from the first nesting that are feeding side-by-side at feeders. TRUMPET CREEPER, a native vine, is beginning to bloom all over Cape May County. This hummingbird favorite is sure to concentrate them! 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 (2:00 - 3:30 PM) in July and much of August 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. Be sure to set aside Saturday, August 2, 10:00 to 4:00 and join CMBO staff and volunteers at CMBO's Center in Goshen for our annual "Hummingbird Celebration," a day of free activities for families and for adults!

PURPLE MARTIN young began hatching this past week at the Purple Martin nesting colony at CMBO's Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North). As of July 9, one nest still had eggs, the other 5 nests had young ranging from 1-day old to 6-days old. 26 days after hatching the young will fledge. In the meantime the adults are busy chortling and catching flying insects to feed their young, including some lovely dragonflies! 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. The house will be lowered, nests checked, eggs counted or chicks counted & aged, and fledging dates predicted. With so many nests at different stages it will be a terrific learning opportunity.

Some AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER have sizable young and others, that lost their nests during super high tides in June, are still on nests. Several families can be enjoyed at Stone Harbor Point & another at the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse.

The Stone Harbor Point colony of hundreds of nesting LEAST & COMMON TERNS and BLACK SKIMMERS is dazzling this summer and includes 2 pairs of nesting GULL-BILLED TERNS. Nesting PIPING PLOVER can also be found here. On July 2nd adult Black Skimmers were seen carrying fish back to the colony, telling observers that the young had just hatched! This same site is attracting an amazing number of unusual terns as well: ARCTIC TERN, ROSEATE TERN, BLACK TERN, ROYAL TERN. To round out your tern study be sure to visit Beaver Swamp WMA, just north of the CMBO Center in Goshen, where GULL-BILLED TERNS can be watched as they hover over this freshwater impoundment hunting frogs perched on lily pads.

Many birds nest on the tidal saltmarsh and were hit hard this spring by super high tides which flooded their nests. Some were resilient enough to renest several times. To see the nesting marsh birds and feeding terns and skimmers, 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).

The Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge (also fondly called, "The Meadows") has a wonderful assortment of nesting birds (GREEN-WINGED TEAL, GADWALL, PIED-BILLED GREBE, COMMON MOORHEN, PIPING PLOVER, AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER) & is a great place to witness migration too. Join CMBO for two special walks there: (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.).

Certainly nesting birds steal the show right now, but July marks the beginning of fall migration. YES, FALL MIGRATION IN JULY! On July 2 some of the first southbound shorebirds were seen from one of the "Back Bay Birding By Boat" cruises: 1 LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 2 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 1 WHIMBREL, and several SPOTTED SANDPIPERS. Flip your field guide open and see where these birds nest and where they've just come from. Each day in July & August will mark the return of more and more shorebirds, our earliest fall migrants!

Several FINBACK WHALES are still being seen 9-18 miles off Cape May (first reported June 22), though some days they have been impossible to find. Whale Watching boat trips for whales may also encounter SHEARWATERS and WILSON'S STORM PETREL. Large SEA TURTLES are being seen from the Cape May Lewes Ferry while crossing the Delaware Bay. A family of RIVER OTTERS (adult and 2 pups) was seen this week in Avalon's back bay waters near 42nd Street. [was Sea Otters in error]

Sunny, hot days trigger butterfly and dragonfly activity. A dish of ripe bananas in Goshen on July 8 pulled in many different QUESTION MARKS, an EASTERN COMMA, and a MOURNING CLOAK. CMBO's gardens in Goshen (600 Route 47 North) are blooming profusely with Common Milkweed, Butterflyweed, Verbena bonariensis, Anise Hyssop, and Blazing Star . . . and attracting a profusion of butterflies. On July 9 these gardens held SPICEBUSH SWALLOWTAILS (and their caterpillars on Spicebush & Sassafras), BLACK SWALLOWTAIL caterpillars on Bronze Fennel, E. TAILED BLUES, PEARL CRESCENTS, 8 AMERICAN LADIES (and their caterpillars on Sweet Everlasting), a MONARCH (inspecting the Common Milkweed to lay eggs), SILVER-SPOTTED SKIPPERS, 50 BROAD-WINGED SKIPPERS, and 60 SALTMARSH SKIPPERS. An AMERICAN SNOUT was seen at Reed's Beach on July 8. CMBO's dragonfly pond at the Center in Goshen was hopping on July 9 with mating & egg laying COMMON GREEN DARNERS and CAROLINA SADDLEBAGS, as well as patrolling TWELVE-SPOTTED SKIMMER, SLATY SKIMMER, BLUE DASHER, and EASTERN AMBERWING. During dragonfly walks naturalists are finding shed skins from newly emerged dragonflies that have left to pond to become winged adults. Join Pat Sutton at the Cape May Bird Observatory Center in Goshen (600 Rt. 47 North) each Wednesday, through mid-October (10:00 a.m. to Noon), for a "Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk in CMBO's Gardens." There is still room on CMBO's "3-Day Bullet Workshop: Butterflies, Dragonflies, and Wildlife Gardens" Friday through Sunday, September 5-7, with Pat Sutton and Jim Dowdell. Call 609-861-0700 to register.

ARROWWOOD (VIBURNUM DENTATUM) is now heavy with green fruit that will turn dark and ripen in the fall. QUEEN ANNE'S LACE and COMMON MILKWEED is in full bloom along road shoulders and in fields. 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.

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 (perfect for newcomers to birding) "Start Birding Today!" every Thursday (10-11 a.m.).

Some special programs that do require preregistration because spaces are limited follow. Join Mark Garland when adult shorebirds are here in force for a special "Shorebird Roundup at Forsythe (Brigantine) NWR" on Friday, July 25 (10 a.m.-3 p.m.). Attend a hands-on "Optics Workshop" at CMBO Center in Goshen on July 27 (1-3 p.m.). "Circumnavigating Delaware Bay" with Mark Garland, August 6-7 (Wednesday & Thursday) for birds and other natural treats still has room! To learn all about terns consider signing up for CMBO's "1-Day Bullet Workshop for Terns" with Michael O'Brien and Louise Zemaitis on Thursday, August 14. "Ghost Crabs: The Good, Bad, & Ugly" with Marine Biologist Karen Williams on Wednesday, August 20 (7:30-9:30 p.m.) has a few places left. To learn in-depth shorebird ID sign up for CMBO's "2-Day Bullet Workshop for (Those $#!%) SHOREBIRDS," scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, August 26 & 27, with Michael O'Brien and Richard Crossley. To learn more about any of these programs or to register, 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 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: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

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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