Cape May Natural History Hotline - 7/8/2005
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 hotline was prepared on Friday, July 8. The Cape May Birding Hotline is temporarily being included in this hotline in an abbreviated fashion. NJ Audubon's hotlines can be read in full on our website (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on "Sightings" (top of any page).

Due to a bookstore staff opening, CMBOs Northwood Center in Cape May Point will be closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but open otherwise (Thursday thru Monday), 9-4:30.

SHEARWATERS are the big story this week! They are being seen from shore at Cape May Point during changing tides (not slack tide). This past week the best times were early in the morning. CORYS SHEARWATERS (the most common with 35 on July 5 and 30 on July 7), GREATER SHEARWATERS (3 on July 5, 1 on July 6 & 7), and MANX SHEARWATER (1 on July 5 & 7). Shearwater watchers at the St. Marys Jetty in Cape May Point have also been seeing N. GANNETS (8 on July 5), a dark (probably 1st summer) PARASITIC JAEGER (July 5 & 6), WILSONS STORM PETREL, and a feeding frenzy of LAUGHING GULLS. Large schools of bait fish close to shore are drawing them in from offshore. Several GREATER SHEARWATERS were even in the Cape May Harbor on July 5. An observer on the July 4 afternoon trip on one of the Cape May Whale Watch boats had rafts of CORYS SHEARWATERS (totaling a record-setting 460), 6-7 GREATER SHEARWATERS, 1 SOOTY,1 MANX SHEARWATER, 25-30 WILSONS STORM PETREL, 7 N. GANNETS, and 15 BROWN PELICANS 6 miles off Wildwood .

The Atlantic City Press has carried several stories about a family of SANDHILL CRANES living in Galloway Township, Atlantic County (on Aloe Avenue near Absecon Mills). They were seen with 2 chicks on July 2.

Captain Bob Carlough saw a WHIMBREL (a Eurasian subspecies with a white rump and lower back) in the northeast corner of Jarvis Sound on July 3 & 5 from The Skimmer on one of his Back Bay Boat Cruises. During Back Bay Boat Cruises marsh nesting birds can be easily observed: FORSTER TERN chicks are getting larger; COMMON TERNS are doing very well with many young; LAUGHING GULLS have many chicks; GREAT BLACK BACKED GULLS and HERRING GULLS have very few chicks. Back Bay Boat Cruises every Sunday and Monday (10 a.m. to Noon) are sponsored by CMBO and benefit CMBO. To register call The Skimmer directly at 609-884-3100.

A SURF SCOTER was feeding around the pilings at Poverty Beach on July 3 & 4, with a BROWN PELICAN on one of the pilings on July 4. Shorebirds are migrating back through now. LEAST SANDPIPERS were heard going over through the night on July 6. The morning of July 7 GREATER & LESSER YELLOWLEGS, LEAST SANDPIPERS, and small flocks of DOWITCHERS migrated south over Cape May.`

The 2 young BALD EAGLES at the Beaver Swamp WMA nest have fledged. Both eaglets were seen flying on July 6. One struggled to avoid an annoying RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD that repeatedly dove on it as it flew awkwardly to nearby trees and made a less than graceful landing. The adults are still taking food back to the nest for the young. One adult carried large prey up Sluice Creek over CMBO on July 7. And another on July 8. The OSPREY population on the Maurice River has produced 40-41 young this year. The OSPREY nest at Jakes Landing has 1 growing youngster.

LEAST BITTERN and a VIRGINIA RAIL are being seen daily at The Meadows, as well as 7 WOOD DUCKS, 3 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, and a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL on July 3. A singing PARULA WARBLER continues at HIGBEE BEACH in the tall trees on the west side of the 2nd field. On July 2, the Birding Cape May Point walk (offered every Saturday and every Wednesday, 7:30-9:30 a.m.) enjoyed a BLACK TERN and flyover shorebirds including 2 RED KNOT, a SPOTTED SANDPIPER, and a SOLITARY SANDPIPER.

It is a bird-eat-bird world out there. The beachnesting colony at Stone Harbor Point continues to struggle with super high tides and aggressive, hungry gulls. Visitors on July 7 observed it first hand. One PIPING PLOVER nest, outside a protective nest exclosure, was preyed upon by a Laughing Gull who ate 3 of the 4 eggs (the 4th egg was placed in a nest exclosure and will hopefully hatch and survive). A COMMON TERN chick was eaten by another Laughing Gull. On the bright side, there are 4 PIPING PLOVER chicks at Stone Harbor Point from 2 different nests and BLACK SKIMMERS are on nests. The beachnesting colonies of LEAST TERNS in Avalon failed this summer, as well as all Piping Plover nests (harassed by crows and / or sand has covered eggs due to high winds). Every Tuesday evening Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point with Gail Dwyer and Jim Armstrong meets at 6 p.m. in the Stone Harbor Point parking lot. Join them and witness the struggle to survive first hand!

This summer CMBO offers 6 different Tours of Private Butterfly Gardens. The first tour will be Friday, July 15, of gardens in and near Cape May Point, followed by a tour on Saturday, July 16, of gardens from the Villas north to Dennisville. These tours will also be offered August 12 & 13 and September 9 & 10. Some gardens will be on all 3 tours; since gardens evolve over the summer, repeat gardens will look entirely different each month. These tours are a great way to get ideas for your own garden and to meet kindred spirits! Call 609-861-0700, x-11, for more information or to register.

CMBOs June 29 Kayak Trip up Bidwells Creek enjoyed a din of singing SEASIDE SPARROWS, hunting OSPREY and BLACK SKIMMERS and an absence of SALTMARSH GREENHEADS. Two additional Kayak Trips to Wild Areas : East Creek Lake and Pickle Factory Pond are scheduled and still have room: (Tuesdays: July 26, August 16). Call 609-861-0700, x-11, for more information or to register.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD activity has exploded at CMBOs Center in Goshen and in nearby backyard gardens, now that the first batch of young have fledged. CARDINAL FLOWER is beginning to bloom and luring them in. CMBOs 1 hour Ruby-throated Hummingbird Walks are offered every Saturday and Wednesday through August (except July 23) at 9:30 a.m. at the CMBO Center in Goshen (600 Rt. 47 North). Mark your calendar for CMBOs Annual Hummingbird Celebration on Saturday, July 23 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Learn about wildlife gardening by getting your hands dirty with Pat Sutton each Friday morning (9 a.m. till Noon) at Garden Maintenance Workshops.

Be sure to clean and maintain Hummingbird feeders at least once each week, and more frequently in hot weather. CMBOs feeders are emptying every 3-4 days. For extensive information about gardening for hummingbirds & butterflies and wildlife in general, visit the World of Backyard Habitat pages on NJ Audubons website: http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat

MONARCHS have been seen in gardens all over NJ this week (North Jersey, Mount Holly, CMBOs Goshen Gardens on July 1 & 6, Cape May Point on July 7). So, be sure to have lots of Milkweed for them. CMBOs Center in Goshen has seed packets of Tropical Milkweed available for sale, and its not too late to plant. Numbers of AMERICAN SNOUT are being seen at Higbee Beach. CECROPIA MOTHS are flying. The first HUMMINGBIRD MOTH report came in June 30.

SLATY SKIMMERS (dragonfly) are flying at Beaver Swamp WMA. 1000s of mating SEASIDE DRAGONLETS can be enjoyed at places like Jakes Landing as they perch atop each stalk of Spartina. SPARKLING JEWELWINGS are thick in bogs and freshwater streams in the northern part of Cape May County. SWAMP DARNERS are thick and especially noticeable at dusk as they swarm over backyards snatching up Mosquitoes.

The FIREFLY or LIGHTNING BUG show continues. 100s can be seen over fields at dark each night. Treat yourself! SALTMARSH GREENHEADS are flying now and thick this July! This fly feeds by day and is long-lived, so quite noticeable. The female needs a blood meal to lay eggs after her first egg laying and she lives 3-4 weeks. So beware! Recent rains have resulted in healthy mosquito populations. DIAMONDBACKED TERRAPIN are laying their eggs and being seen everywhere as they cross high speed roads to get to a more favorable sandy roadshoulder, so drive with caution. COYOTES continue to be heard and seen; 2 young were playing in a field near the Rea Farm Market on July 7. HORSESHOE CRABS are still mating and laying eggs. Look for newly hatched and tailess Horseshoe Crabs (slightly bigger than the size of a pin head) in the tideline, along with the shed skeletons of young crabs that have molted.

TRUMPET CREEPER is in full bloom and luring in hungry hummingbirds. SWAMP AZALEA is in full bloom and intoxicatingly sweet smelling. All the milkweeds are blooming now (SWAMP, COMMON, ORANGE, and TROPICAL) and drawing in nectaring butterflies. PICKERELWEED is in full bloom in freshwater ponds, including CMBOs Dragonfly Pond, and pulling in nectaring butterflies.

CMBOs 2005 Workshops cover hot (and fun) topics; many of the summer workshops are held mid-week to avoid summer traffic. A 1-Day Butterfly Workshop on Wednesday, August 10, is held when 36 species can be studied in CMBOs gardens in Goshen alone. A 2-Day Shorebird Workshop on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 23-24, will enjoy more than 30 species in many plumages! A 2-Day Fall Warblers, Flycatchers, and Vireos Workshop on Wednesday and Thursday, August 31 and September 1, is scheduled for THE peak time for these migrant songbirds. Learn to Identify Birds on the Wing with Pete Dunne during this 2-day workshop, held Wednesday and Thursday, September 14-15, scheduled back-to-back with a 3-Day Fall Migration Workshop, Friday through Sunday, September 16-18, also with Pete Dunne and Louise Zemaitis. A 2-Day Raptor Workshop, focusing on Falcons, Accipiters, and Osprey, will be taught by Pete Dunne and Pat Sutton on Saturday and Sunday, September 24-25. To receive the workshop brochure (covering 11 workshops now through January 05) call 609-861-0700 or go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks05.html

Witness breeding birds at the peak of their nesting season by attending one or all of CMBOs weekly July walks, requiring no preregistration. For details on each walk as well as CMBOs many preregistration programs go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

The Cape May Bird Observatory offers an extensive series of regular bird walks that require no pre-registration and many special field trips and programs for which advanced registration is required. All are detailed in the Kestrel Express. The summer edition is now available too. To receive a copy stop at either CMBO Center, call the office during business hours at 609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's web site: 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 Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties. Updates are typically made on Thursdays. Please report your natural history sightings to CMBO's Center in Goshen at 609-861-0700. Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!

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