Cape May Natural History Hotline - 8/15/2003

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 Friday, August 14. 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.

If you are keen on learning how to attract wildlife to your own backyard, consider these three special preregistration programs. On Saturday, August 23, Pat Sutton will lead an in-the-field "Wildlife Food Plants Workshop," from 1:00-4:00 p.m., 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. TWO very special "Tours of Private Butterfly Gardens" are scheduled: (1) a tour on Friday, September 12, will visit gardens in Cape May County from Villas to Woodbine, and (2) a tour on Saturday, September 13, will visit gardens in and near Cape May and Cape May Point. Each tour is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Expect to learn of new plants, savor great garden designs, and meet kindred spirits who are generously welcoming us into their private gardens. Call 609-861-0700 to register. Another way to learn (and HELP at the same time) is by joining 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 gardens in Goshen (600 Route 47 North) just keep getting better and better. Expect a blizzard of butterflies, hoards of hovering hummingbirds, and dazzling dragonflies darting about! An amazing 36 species of butterflies were tallied in the gardens on August 9, the highest number ever in these gardens! And since then observers have easily seen 30 species daily. Highlights include: lots of BLACK, E. TIGER, and SPICEBUSH SWALLOWTAILS (including Black Swallowtail caterpillars on fennel and Queen Anne's Lace and Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars on Spicebush and Sassafras), dozens of CABBAGE WHITES, the season's first CLOUDLESS SULPHUR on August 13, 5 AMERICAN COPPER, 6 OLIVE' JUNIPER HAIRSTREAKS (mostly on Boneset and Mountain Mint), 3 WHITE M HAIRSTREAKS (on Boneset and newly emerged August 14), GRAY HAIRSTREAK, 6 RED-BANDED HAIRSTREAK, E. TAILED BLUE, 15 SUMMER AZURE, 5 AMERICAN SNOUT, 20 PEARL CRESCENT, 4 QUESTION MARK (including numbers laying eggs on Hops vine and Hackberry trees), 25 AMERICAN LADY (and their caterpillars on Sweet Everlasting), RED ADMIRALS, 5 COMMON BUCKEYE, 3 RED-SPOTTED PURPLE (coming to rotten fruit), HACKBERRY EMPEROR, COMMON WOOD NYMPHS in the meadow, 6 MONARCHS on August 14 (and eggs on our Common Milkweed), 15 SILVER-SPOTTED SKIPPERS, 6 HAYHURST'S SCALLOPWING (darting low through the gardens next to the path), COMMON SOOTYWING, SWARTHY SKIPPER, LEAST SKIPPER, the season's first FIERY SKIPPER on August 13, 5 N. BROKEN DASH (on Aug. 9), SACHEM, DELAWARE SKIPPER, RARE SKIPPERS (12 on August 8 and 2 on August 14 on the Pickerelweed in our pond), ZABULON SKIPPER (since August 9), AARON'S SKIPPER, 50-80 BROAD-WINGED SKIPPER, DUN SKIPPER, and 10 SALTMARSH SKIPPERS.

Moths too are being drawn to the gardens. Two different Hummingbird Moths can be easily seen, the SNOWBERRY CLEARWINGS (the one that resembles a bumblebee) and the HUMMINGBIRD CLEARWING. On August 13 a beautiful female IMPERIAL MOTH clung to the CMBO Center in Goshen after being drawn to the night lights the night before. This silkmoth is huge and yellow with pink markings. Be alert for BLACK WITCH moths too. One of these normally tropical moths was seen August 10 in Columbia, Maryland, and during a recent hurricane hundreds were seen in Port O'Connor, Texas, which is on the Gulf of Mexico just north of Corpus Christie. In a good year keen observers might see 3-4 on the Texas Coast in that area, not hundreds!

Higbee Beach WMA this week hosted HACKBERRY EMPEROR, HAYHURST'S SCALLOPWING, and COMMON SOOTYWING. On August 14 in Cape May Point, the Pavilion Circle Gardens and backyard garden butterfly bushes held 14 QUESTION MARKS and 4 AMERICAN SNOUTS. On August 14, numbers of MONARCHS were seen in CMBO's gardens in Goshen, in backyard gardens, and crossing roads . . . probably the first wave of Monarchs from New England and southern Canada moving south already. YES, it's not too early. Also on August 14, a massive flight of dragonflies (millions) was reported, coming in off the ocean in Strathmere.

Join Pat Sutton each Wednesday, through mid-October (10:00 a.m. to Noon), at the Cape May Bird Observatory Center in Goshen (600 Rt. 47 North) for a "Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk in CMBO's Gardens" and each Thursday, through mid-October (10:00 a.m. to Noon), at Pavilion Circle Gardens in Cape May Point for a "Butterfly Walk at Cape May Point." 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.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD activity continues to increase at the Cape May Bird Observatory's gardens & feeders in Goshen. Each feeder seems to have at least 3 birds competing to feed from it. Our 6 feeders are being emptied daily and the birds are busy at flowers too: CORAL HONEYSUCKLE, CARDINAL CLIMBER, TRUMPET CREEPER, BUTTERFLY BUSH, TROPICAL SALVIA / SAGE, BLUE & BLACK SALVIA, and ROSE OF SHARON. August migrants from the north are arriving in waves and added to the mix of resident adult males, adult females, and young that fledged from the first nest. 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). Be sure to thoroughly wash & refill your hummingbird feeders every 2-3 days during this hot stretch of summer. 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.

Gardeners, be sure to check out CMBO's selection of special hummingbird and butterfly garden plants FOR SALE this week at the CMBO Center in Goshen. The selection includes the following perennials: New England Aster, Boltonia, Pine Barrens Blazing Star or Gayfeather, Cardinal Flower, Wild Columbine, Nodding Onion, Catmint, Joe-pye-weed, Common Milkweed (while supply lasts!!! -- Monarchs readily lay their eggs on this plant), Sweet Everlasting; vines: Coral Honeysuckle (a hummingbird magnet!); the following shrubs: Buttonbush, Elderberry, Arrowwood Viburnum, and Spicebush, and the following trees: Red Cedar, Tulip Tree.

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, BLACK SADDLEBAGS, dozens of BLUE DASHERS, and SEASIDE DRAGONLETS entertain.

CMBO's PURPLE MARTINS at Goshen all fledged by August 4 and were gone the very next day from the Martin Houses and the area all day long. At 7:00 p.m., though, family groups returned to their respective nest cavities for the night and adults were still busy feeding fledged young right up until dark. Soon Purple Martins will stage by the thousands at the Maurice River before heading to their wintering grounds in South America. 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!

Young OSPREY have been fledging since August 4 with some still on the nest and due to fledge any day.

AMERICAN REDSTARTS are migrating through in force now. Owners of backyard habitats all over Cape May County were delighted this week when one or two or more came to birdbaths, flitted around trees and shrubs, and entertained with their colorful flared yellow spotted tails. In Goshen one twitching Am. Redstart upset a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird enough that the hummingbird did a mini pendulum swing flight back and forth over the redstart escorting it away from the area. Each coldfront, no matter how subtle, will bring new and bigger waves of migrant songbirds.

The Stone Harbor Point beach nesting colony continues to dazzle and includes thousands of COMMON TERNS and BLACK SKIMMERS, a handful of LEAST TERNS (due to predation and flooding), PIPING PLOVER (including some migrants), and AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS and their growing chicks. So, if you haven't treated yourself, be dazzled and visit Stone Harbor Point!

Every Monday, marine biologist Karen Williams will lead CMBO's 2-hour (no preregistration required) "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 to examine the great variety of life found there, from crustaceans and fishes to birds overhead. There will be some seining; wear a swim suit if you want to help with the net! A very special pre-registration program still has room: "Ghost Crabs: The Good, Bad, & Ugly" with Marine Biologist Karen Williams on Wednesday, August 20 (7:30-9:30 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700 to register.

Astronomers have alerted us that this month and next Earth is catching up with Mars, an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. The encounter will culminate on August 27th. At the beginning of August Mars rose in the east at 10 p.m. But by the end of August when the two planets are closest, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky at 12:30 a.m. Mars will grow progressively brighter and brighter throughout the month. Apparently no one alive today will ever see this again.

Shorebirds are migrating through in big numbers now, they being our earliest migrants. And heron and egret colonies are still busy places. A great way to savor the normally inaccessible back bay marshes 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). Call Wildlife Unlimited (609-884-3100) to register for these CMBO-sponsored trips.

CMBO's regularly scheduled walks that require no preregistration are terrific opportunities to witness migration unfolding. In addition to the previously mentioned walks, others follow. EVERY FRIDAY -- "Sunset Birding at the Meadows," 5:30-dusk, and (beginning August 22) "Higbee Beach Bird Walk," 7-9 a.m. EVERY SATURDAY -- "Fall Migrants at the Rea Farm," 7:30-9:30 a.m. 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 -- "Hidden Valley Bird Walk," 7:30-9:30 a.m. and "Start Birding Today!" with Judy Lukens, 10-11 a.m., perfect for newcomers to birding and nature. .

Some special programs that do require preregistration because spaces are limited follow: (1) CMBO's "Optics Workshop" at the Northwood Center with Scott Edwards on August 16. (2) "2-Day Bullet Workshop for (Those $#!%) SHOREBIRDS" with Michael O'Brien and Richard Crossley will be taught Tuesday and Wednesday, August 26 & 27. (3) "Late Summer Birding in Cape May" with Mark Garland on Saturday, August 30, 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. will introduce participants to Cape May's top birding sites and visit those that have drawn in recent migrants! 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 the remainder of our SUMMER 2003 PROGRAMS (through August) and our FALL 2003 PROGRAMS (September - November) 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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