Cape May Natural History Hotline - 7/24/2003
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 24. 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 Stone Harbor Point beach nesting colony is remaining one of the most spectacular beach nesting colonies in all of New Jersey this season! On July 18, Chris Kisiel, a field assistant with the NJ Endangered & Nongame Species Program shared the following update. There are at least 1,500 adult COMMON TERNS, and probably closer to 2000 since dense vegetation makes it hard to find everybody! Around 400 adults are on nests and so far about 170 chicks (some small and others already flying) are on site. There are at least 900 BLACK SKIMMERS; about 460 adults are on nests. They only started laying en masse around July 4th, so there are no chicks yet. The LEAST TERNS are having a tough year, due to predation and flooding. In late June there were about 200 adults on nests, but sadly on July 12 there were only 45 adults on nests and not enough chicks and fledges to make up the difference. Sadly, Least Tern colonies all over the state have had similar problems with predation and flooding. There is at least one fledged GULL-BILLED TERN youngster so far this season from one of the 2 nests in the tern colony. 2 broods of AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS have 2 fully grown chicks each, and a third brood has two chicks. 2 broods of PIPING PLOVER have produced 3 chicks, all due to fledge this week! So, if you haven't treated yourself, be dazzled and visit Stone Harbor Point!

An evening stroll at Corson's Inlet (south end of Ocean City) on July 17, enjoyed thumb-nail sized baby FOWLER'S TOADS, a tideline carpeted with Coquinas shells, many BLACK SKIMMERS and LEAST TERNS feeding in the surf line, a few WILSON'S STORM PETREL "tapping" on the water way out, a PIPING PLOVER, a FOX digging in the sand (possibly digging for Ghost Crabs?), PURPLE MARTINS, TREE SWALLOWS, and BARN SWALLOWS flying and feeding over the dunes, 6 BROWN PELICANS flying by and hunting, and 2 WHIMBREL flying south over the ocean.

To explore a remote and beautiful part of Cape May County consider signing up for the "Kayak Trip #2 at Great Cedar Swamp" on Tuesday, August 12, from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. We'll be exploring the Cape May NWR's Great Cedar Swamp in northern Cape May County, via Cedar Swamp Creek. Close encounters with nesting birds, dragonflies, and wildflowers (including the orchid Rose Pagonia and Cardinal Flower). Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD activity is non-stop at the Cape May Bird Observatory's gardens & feeders in Goshen. The first batch of young recently fledged and can now be found at feeders and in the garden. And females are beginning to nest again. For two weeks now we've seen males perform their incredible "pendulum swing" courtship flight over females, confirming this. In CMBO's gardens CORAL HONEYSUCKLE and BUTTERFLY BUSH are pulling them in. TRUMPET CREEPER, a native vine, is now in full bloom all over Cape May County. These hummingbird favorites are 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). With summer's recent heat you'll want to thoroughly wash & refill your feeders at least every 2-3 days. As activity increases you'll find that they're being emptied every day. CMBO carries HummZinger feeders, which are one of the easiest feeders to clean, very well-thought out, and even educational (including directions for the correct feeding solution). 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 & Butterfly Celebration," a day of free activities for families and for adults!

30 growing young and a mess of adult PURPLE MARTINS entertain at the Purple Martin nesting colony at CMBO's Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North). The young are due to begin fledging on July 29 through August 4, and soon after they'll be gone! Learn all about Purple Martins and how you too can have a successful colony while you're entertained by them. Join 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, chicks counted & aged, and fledging dates confirmed. With so many nests at different stages it will be a terrific learning opportunity.

The CMBO sponsored "Back Bay Birding By Boat" cruises aboard "The Skimmer," every Sunday and Monday (10:00 a.m. to Noon) right now are witnessing good numbers of feeding Least Terns and Black Skimmers from the nearby Stone Harbor colony and shorebirds, like: WHIMBREL, GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, and DOWITCHERS (call Wildlife Unlimited, call 609-884-3100 to register for these CMBO-sponsored trips).

CMBO's gardens in Goshen (600 Route 47 North) are blooming profusely. Butterflies are all over Butterfly Bush, Brazilian Verbena (Verbena bonariensis), Anise Hyssop, Marjoram (an herb), Swamp Milkweed, Butterfly Weed, Catmint, Blazing Star, Pickerelweed in the pond, Mountain Mint, Spotted Knapweed in the meadow, and more! SNOWBERRY CLEARWINGS (one of the hummingbird moths) are nectaring in the gardens too and a dozen or more might be seen. RARE SKIPPERS continue in CMBO's gardens, favoring the Pickerelweed in the pond and the Butterfly Bush, but also found on some of the other flowers. 12-15 were counted on July 21, and others have been found in nearby gardens, further south on Rt. 47 and at Reeds Beach. True to their name they are rare, but CMBO's Center in Goshen is a hotspot since part of the property is tidal saltmarsh where their caterpillar food plant, Tall Cordgrass or Spartina cynosuroides, grows. Seen in the CMBO garden this week were: BLACK SWALLOWTAIL, E. TIGER SWALLOWTAIL, SPICEBUSH SWALLOWTAIL, 100 CABBAGE WHITE, OLIVE' JUNIPER HAIRSTEAK (on Boneset), E. TAILED BLUE, AMERICAN SNOUT, PEARL CRESCENT, QUESTION MARK (on our dish of gooey fruit), many AMERICAN LADY, COMMON BUCKEYE, RED-SPOTTED PURPLE (on the fruit dish), LITTLE WOOD SATYR, COMMON WOOD NYMPH, MONARCH, SILVER-SPOTTED SKIPPER, SWARTHY SKIPPER, SACHEM, and 70 BROAD-WINGED SKIPPERS. Caterpillars are plentiful too if you know how and where to look, including American Lady on Sweet Everlasting, Black Swallowtail on Fennel, and Spicebush Swallowtail on Spicebush and Sassafras. Nearby gardens and wild areas this past week also held: EDWARD'S HAIRSTREAK, E. COMMA, RED ADMIRAL, HACKBERRY EMPEROR, HORACE'S DUSKYWING, LEAST SKIPPER, N. BROKEN DASH, MULBERRY WING, and DUN SKIPPER. CMBO's dragonfly pond at the Center in Goshen is buzzing with activity as they feast on greenheads, mosquitoes, and other nasty, biting insects. It's a whirlwind of activity with perching and hunting dragonflies, dragonflies in tandem laying eggs, and nymphs emerging from the pond as winged adult dragonflies. COMMON GREEN DARNER, CAROLINA SADDLEBAGS, TWELVE-SPOTTED SKIMMER, dozens of BLUE DASHERS, and SEASIDE DRAGONLETS entertain. The large, brightly-colored, bristle-y caterpillars on the Pickerelweed plants are SMARTWEED CATERPILLARS, which will become SMEARED DAGGER MOTHS. 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. If you'd like to learn about wildlife gardening, one more great way is by joining 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.

Additional regularly scheduled walks that require no preregistration and will help you enjoy Cape May, general birding, and summer's nesting birds include: Birding Cape May Point" every Wednesday and Saturday (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Mondays at the Meadows" every Monday (7:30-9:30 a.m.), "Sunset Birding at the Meadows" every Friday (6:30-8:30 p.m. in July and 5:30-dusk in August), and (perfect for newcomers to birding and nature) "Start Birding Today!" with Judy Lukens every Thursday (10-11 a.m.), and "Welcome to Cape May" with Mark Garland every Sunday (2-3 p.m.). both

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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