Cape May Natural History Hotline - 7/31/2003

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 31. 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 "Kayak Trip at Great Cedar Swamp" on July 29 savored a rich outing into a true wilderness area right here in South Jersey. The din of traffic noise drifted away and not another soul was seen or sound was heard. CARDINAL FLOWER was in bud, a din of Marsh Wrens filled the air, Sweet Pepperbush was beginning to bloom, bushes full of ripe Huckleberries and Blueberries hung over the kayaks, River Otter swam through the creek, colorful dragonflies and damselflies dotted the vegetation, and a young BALD EAGLE (recently fledged from a nearby nest) sailed overhead. At the peak of the summer this adventure was able to enjoy a peaceful remote outing into a true wild area. The trip was so successful that CMBO has scheduled (a 2nd) Kayak Trip at Great Cedar Swamp for Tuesday, August 12, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. A few spaces are left. Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register.

At least 30 RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS can be enjoyed at the Cape May Bird Observatory's gardens & feeders in Goshen. A mix of adult males, adult females, and young that fledged within the last few weeks from the first nest tangle for nectar and feeder space. In CMBO's gardens CORAL HONEYSUCKLE, BUTTERFLY BUSH, and TROPICAL SALVIA / SAGE are pulling them in. TRUMPET CREEPER, a native vine, is now in full bloom all over Cape May County. These hummingbird favorites are concentrating hummingbirds!

CMBO's 2nd Annual "Hummingbird & Butterfly Celebration" will be held this Saturday, August 2, 10:00 to 4:00. There will be activities for families and for adults, and admission is FREE. Drop in any time for walks and talks led by Pat Sutton, Karen Williams, Mark Garland, and others. There will be a drop-in hummingbird observation station, where you can watch hummingbirds and learn about their life histories from a naturalist. There will also be strolls through the Center's magnificent wildlife gardens, the "Model Backyard Habitat Gardens." Some strolls will focus on how to garden in a wildlife-friendly manner, while others will focus on butterflies and hummingbird moths, which sparkle throughout the gardens at this season.

Treat yourself to good looks and lots of learning about hummingbirds by attending one of CMBO's "The Buzz About Hummingbirds," every Wednesday and Friday (through August 29), and every Saturday (through August 16) from 2:00-3:30 PM at CMBO's Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North). With summer's recent heat be sure to thoroughly wash & refill your feeders every 2-3 days. As activity increases you'll find that your feeders will be emptied every other day or so. 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.

CMBO's gardens in Goshen (600 Route 47 North) are blooming profusely and successfully pulling in a rich assortment of butterflies and moths. 26 species were counted in the gardens on July 27, with highlights including AMERICAN COPPER, 10 OLIVE' JUNIPER HAIRSTREAK, GRAY HAIRSTREAK, PEARL CRESCENT, QUESTION MARK, AMERICAN LADY, COMMON BUCKEYE, COMMON WOOD NYMPH, MONARCH, LEAST SKIPPER, N. BROKEN DASH, SACHEM, DELAWARE SKIPPER, RARE SKIPPER, AARON'S SKIPPER, BROAD-WINGED SKIPPER, AND DUN SKIPPER. Earlier in the week on July 25 a PAINTED LADY was on Spotted Knapweed in CMBO's meadow. At nearby Reed's Beach on July 28 backyard gardens attracted 4 OLIVE' JUNIPER HAIRSTREAK, AMERICAN SNOUT, MONARCH, SACHEM, and TAWNY-EDGED SKIPPER. A HAYHURST'S SCALLOPWING was in CMBO's gardens in Goshen on July 30. AMERICAN SNOUTS have been reported from many spots in the County where Hackberry trees grow, from Higbee Beach to Goshen. A TAWNY EMPEROR was at the CMBO Northwood Center on July 25, where Hackberry trees grow in front of the building. Hummingbird Moths have been flying for some time, but they've all been SNOWBERRY CLEARWINGS, the one that resembles a bumblebee. Just this week numbers of HUMMINGBIRD CLEARWINGS have been seen also in the gardens. The gardens at CMBO's center in Goshen are in bloom with the following butterfly magnets: 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! CMBO's dragonfly pond at the Center in Goshen is buzzing with activity as they feast on green heads, 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. 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.

Keen on wildflowers? Join Mark Garland on Saturday, August 9, for "Summer Wildflower" (9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), an outdoor learning experience in the Cape May area. Call 609-861-0700 to register. On Saturday, August 23, Pat Sutton will lead an in-the-field "Wildlife Food Plants Workshop" at the CMBO Center in Goshen and nearby areas to teach how to recognize important native trees, shrubs, and vines that are early survival foods for our warblers and other migrants moving through in late August. Call 609-861-0700 to register. Two very special "Tours of Private Butterfly Gardens" are scheduled for Friday, September 12 (gardens from Villas to Woodbine), and Saturday, September 13 (in and near Cape May and Cape May Point), from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Participants will pick up many design ideas while entertained by Monarchs and other butterflies and lingering hummingbirds. Probably the best part of the tours is meeting kindred spirits! Call 609-861-0700 to register. If you'd like to learn about wildlife gardening, join Karen Williams every Friday (9:30 a.m.-Noon) for a "Garden Maintenance Workshop" at the CMBO center in Goshen. Plant divisions are often delightful payment for your labor and having a chance to learn so much from Karen as you work.

CMBO's selection of special hummingbird and butterfly garden plants FOR SALE this week includes the following perennials: New England Aster, Boltonia, Pinelands Blazing Star or Gayfeather, Cardinal Flower, Wild Columbine, Nodding Onion, Hummingbird Mint, Mountain Mint, Catmint, Joe-pye-weed, Common Milkweed, Sweet Everlasting; the following vines: Coral Honeysuckle, Virginia Creeper; the following shrubs: Buttonbush, Elderberry, Arrowwood Viburnum, Spicebush, Black Chokeberry; and the following trees: Sour Gum, Red Cedar, Tulip Tree.

Some of the 30 young PURPLE MARTINS at the Purple Martin nesting colony at CMBO's Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North) fledged this week and the rest are due to fledge by August 4. At the moment dozens are whirling around, snatching biting insects out of the air, feeding their young, some young are testing their wings. Very soon they'll all be gone, staging by the thousands at places like the Maurice River before heading to their wintering grounds in South America. Learn all about Purple Martins and what you can do between now and next spring to attract them when they return by joining Pat Sutton for the season's final "Purple Martin Nest Check" Friday, 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. It is a terrific learning opportunity. Be sure to save Saturday, August 23, when Cumberland County will host its 2nd Annual Purple Martin Festival. Call 856-453-2180 for additional information. CMBO naturalists will be volunteering on boat trips and at the evening viewing site during this event!

The Stone Harbor Point beach nesting colony continues to dazzle! On July 27, Chris Kisiel, a field assistant with the NJ Endangered & Nongame Species Program shared the following update. There are at least 1,686 adult COMMON TERNS with 228 adults still sitting on nests, 44 hatch chicks, and 265 fledged young. There are at least 1,068 BLACK SKIMMERS with 453 adults sitting on nests, and the first little chick seen. Many have probably hatched but are still small and staying low and out of sight. The LEAST TERNS continue to struggle, due to predation and flooding. Only 19 adults were counted on July 27, down from 255 a month ago. Only a handful of fledged young have made it. PIPING PLOVER are beginning to migrate and one pair at Stone Harbor Point fledged 2 chicks (one more than were fledge there last year)! One pair of AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER still has 2 chicks. So, if you haven't treated yourself, be dazzled and visit Stone Harbor Point!

On July 26 Dave Githens reported a great show of 4 FINBACK WHALES, about 20 miles south of Cape May...the trip took an extra hour but was worth it. These are probably the same group of whales that have been sighted since June. Finbacks generally move northward as far as arctic waters in summer, so this lingering group is a bonus.

Monday, August 4, marine biologist Karen Williams will lead CMBO's first "Life on the Beach" walk, meeting on the Wildlife Viewing Platform ("Hawkwatch") at 5:00 p.m. and exploring the tidal strand at the Cape May Point State Park until 7:00 p.m. Wear a swim suit if you'd like to help with the net!

Shorebirds are migrating through in big numbers now, they being our earliest migrants. A great way to savor them is to join Captain Bob Carlough on one of the CMBO sponsored "Back Bay Birding By Boat" cruises aboard "The Skimmer," every Sunday and Monday (10:00 a.m. to Noon). Their July 27 trip enjoyed WHIMBREL, WESTERN WILLET, LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, LEAST and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER, OSPREY on nests, nesting gulls, BLACK SKIMMERS feeding, and more! Call Wildlife Unlimited (609-884-3100) to register for these CMBO-sponsored trips.

Some songbirds are beginning to migrate, YES in late July. On the 29th Higbee Beach held the following migrants: 1 LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH, 2 WORM-EATING WARBLERS, 1 AMERICAN REDSTART, 35 YELLOW WARBLERS (including 13 in one tree), and 1 TRAIL'S FLYCATCHER. Each coldfront, no matter how subtle, will bring new and bigger waves.

As we get into August CMBO's regularly scheduled walks that require no preregistration expand to offer more and more learning opportunities as migration builds. In addition to the previously mentioned walks, others offered follow. EVERY FRIDAY -- "Sunset Birding at the Meadows," 6:30-8:30 p.m. in July and 5:30-dusk in August. EVERY SATURDAY -- "Birding Cape May Point," 7:30-9:30 a.m. (through August 9), "Fall Migrants at the Rea Farm," 7:30-9:30 a.m. (beginning August 16). EVERY SUNDAY -- "Welcome to Cape May" with Mark Garland, 2-3 p.m.. EVERY MONDAY -- "Mondays at the Meadows," 7:30-9:30 a.m. EVERY WEDNESDAY -- " Birding Cape May Point," 7:30-9:30 a.m. EVERY THURSDAY -- perfect for newcomers to birding and nature "Start Birding Today!" with Judy Lukens, 10-11 a.m.

Some special programs that do require preregistration because spaces are limited follow: CMBO's "1-Day Bullet Workshop for Terns" with Michael O'Brien and Louise Zemaitis on Thursday, August 14; "Optics Workshop" at the Northwood Center with Scott Edwards on August 16; "Ghost Crabs: The Good, Bad, & Ugly" with Marine Biologist Karen Williams on Wednesday, August 20 (7:30-9:30 p.m.); "2-Day Bullet Workshop for (Those $#!%) SHOREBIRDS" with Michael O'Brien and Richard Crossley will be taught Tuesday and Wednesday, August 26 & 27. 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)

<< 7/24/2003   8/8/2003 >>