Cape May Natural History Hotline - 8/19/2004

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 updated on Thursday, August 19. For bird news call the Cape May Birding Hotline at (609) 898-2473. NJ Audubon's three hotline 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 been a very good year for BEACH PLUM fruits. Bushes in the shrub islands in CMBO's parking lot at the Center in Goshen are thick with frosty purple fruits. They'll all be ripe around Labor Day. WINGED SUMAC bushes are full of clusters of yellow flowers. A few WILD BLACK CHERRIES still hang from trees, but most have fallen to the ground. CORAL HONEYSUCKLE is in full bloom again and pulling in hungry hummingbirds. CRIMSON-EYED ROSE MALLOW, a wild hibiscus, is a show stopper at the Cape May Point State Park, "The Meadows," and in CMBO's gardens in Goshen. On Sunday, August 22, Mark Garland will teach "Summer Wildflowers" (8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) outdoors while exploring 2-3 habitats near Cape May. Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS are thick as thieves at CMBO's Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North). The gorgeous hummingbird and butterfly gardens at this site have attracted 30-40 birds. Many are migrants now from the north and individuals change day-to-day as some migrants move on and others arrive. Young males from the first nests are showing flecks of red in the throat. Join Pat Sutton for a 1 hour (2-3:30 p.m.) "Buzz About Hummingbirds" outdoor program every Wednesday and Saturday through August 28 at CMBO's Center in Goshen, where you'll be buzzed by hummingbirds as you learn all about them, including getting to see and touch a hummingbird nest.

Be sure to maintain your hummingbird feeders; clean thoroughly every few days. CMBO's feeders are emptying every day with all the activity! Also compliment feeders with a wildlife garden. CMBO's Gardens in Goshen offer many ideas. Lots of shared knowledge and advice about creating a "Backyard Habitat" is featured on NJ Audubon's web site at: http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat/Index.html

Swallows and PURPLE MARTINS are gathering on wires. 60,000-70,000 Purple Martins stage (gather) on the Maurice River and roost in the riverside marshes at dusk. Cumberland County's "Purple Martin Festival" on Saturday, August 21, is a great way to observe this spectacle! Registration opens at 2:30 p.m. Indoor programs by martin experts and the author of the Cumberland Birding Guide begin at 2:45 p.m. At 6:00 p.m. a boat tour and an observation site on the top of the Maurice River Bridge will be manned by CMBO naturalists to showcase this spectacle. Call 856-453-2177 to receive Cumberland County's information flyer w/details!

Neotropical songbirds are migrating through now. Each coldfront (drop in temperature) brings a new wave! For four hours, beginning at sunrise, they can be seen heading north over Higbee Beach. Having migrated through the night, those that reach land's end in the early morning, round the tip of the peninsula and turn north, following the Delaware Bayshore, settling in good habitat further up the bayshore. Identifying these flyovers is a true challenge, but you can learn from the experts every Saturday and Sunday (beginning September 4) by joining Chris Vogel on the viewing tower near the Higbee Beach dike from 8:00 to 8:30 a.m. for the "Morning Flight." Migrants enjoyed on August 15 at Higbee Beach included: CERULEAN WARBLER (1), PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (1), WORM-EATING WARBLER (2), BLACK AND WHITE WARBLER, PRAIRIE WARBLER, N. WATERTHRUSH (1), BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO, and lots of AMERICAN REDSTARTS. Migrants enjoyed there on August 18 include: YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO and LARK SPARROW. And on August 19: WORM-EATING WARBLER (2), RED-EYED VIREO (2), PRAIRIE WARBLERS (2), N. WATERTHRUSH (2), OVENBIRD (1), and numbers of BALTIMORE ORIOLES, E. KINGBIRDS, YELLOW WARBLERS, and AMERICAN REDSTARTS.

Another great opportunity to savor these migrants and learn challenging ID points is to join Pete Dunne and Louise Zemaitis for the next Cape May Birding Workshop on "Songbird Migrants (Fall Warblers, Empid Flycatchers, Vireos, and others)," September 1-2 -- at THE peak time to study Neotropical migrants! Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register while spaces remain. To download a registration form for any of CMBO's upcoming Cape May Birding Workshop, go to NJ Audubon's web site at: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks04.html

GREAT HORNED OWLS were calling on August 15 and again on the 18th near the Rea Farm. Great Horned Owls are our earliest nesting bird and a year round resident. Adults could already be calling to let others know the territory where they intend to nest in January.

1000s of shorebirds are here now. Brigantine NWR impoundments are filled with them, including highlights like AMERICAN AVOCET, HUDSONIAN GODWIT, RED-NECKED PHALAROPE, MARBLED GODWIT, and numbers of STILT SANDPIPERS, WESTERN SANDPIPERS, and WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS on August 15. At the peak time to study shorebirds Pete Dunne and Richard Crossley will teach a Cape May Birding Workshop on "Shorebirds," August 24-25. This workshop is full; call 609-861-0700, x-11 to be put on the waiting list.

On August 17, on CMBO's "Kayak Trip up Bidwell's Creek" we had an adult BALD EAGLE soar over us for 15 minutes showing quite a bit of interest. It is only a matter of time before more nests are discovered here in Cape May County. New Jersey's nesting Adult BALD EAGLES are year-round residents and do not wander too far from their nesting territory and nearby hunting habitats. Adults from northern states do migrate because northern winters are so harsh. Immature Bald Eagles all wander for the first four years of their lives -- until they get the white head and tail -- and can be seen right now in August. There is no rhyme or reason to the direction they wander. We can see young from Florida nests wandering through New Jersey. New Jersey's 34 nests this year successfully fledged 54 young eagles. Many of the young began flying in late June and early July.

Last fall's Cape May Hawkwatch tallied 178 Bald Eagles between September 1 and November 30. One of the ultimate birding experiences is to witness the Cape May skies full of raptors while fine tuning your raptor ID skills with CMBO's first official hawk watcher, Pete Dunne. Pete Dunne and Pat Sutton will teach 3 different Cape May Birding Workshops on "Raptors": (1) "2-day workshop" on Saturday & Sunday, September 25 & 26, (2) "2-day workshop" on Monday & Tuesday, September 27 & 28, and (3) "5-day workshop on Raptor Migration" (with Clay Sutton as the 3rd leader) Sunday through Thursday, October 24-28 (just prior to NJ Audubon's "Cape May Autumn Weekend / The Bird Show). Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register while spaces remain. To download a registration form for these upcoming Cape May Birding Workshop, go to NJ Audubon's web site at: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks04.html

CMBO sponsored "Back Bay Birding By Boat" tours aboard "The Skimmer," every Sunday & Monday from 10 a.m. to Noon, are a great way to enjoy and savor saltmarsh mudflats covered in shorebirds, terns feeding their young, herons and egrets, and the unexpected! Call Wildlife Unlimited directly to register for the "Back Bay" trips (609-884-3100); a portion of the proceeds from the Sunday & Monday AM trips go to CMBO. Four specially arranged Saturday evening "Sunset Cruises for Fall Migrants" aboard "The Skimmer" are set: September 11, 25, October 2, and 9. Spaces are limited; to register for Sunset Cruises, call 609-861-0700, x-11.

Every Monday (except September 6), "Life on the Beach" with marine biologist Karen Williams, meets at 5:00 p.m. at the Wildlife Viewing Platform in the Cape May Point State Park for a 2 hour beach walk and seining adventure.

CLOUDLESS SULPHURS, a southern butterfly, are moving north. 5 were seen in CMBO's gardens in Goshen on August 19, and elsewhere around South Jersey this past week. MONARCHS too have been more common in the last week. 5 were in CMBO's gardens in Goshen on August 19, and Common Milkweed plants in Cape May Point on August 18 had dozens of eggs on them. GRAY & RED-BANDED HAIRSTREAKS are coming to MOUNTAIN MINT, BONESET, and VERBENA BONARIENSIS. PAINTED LADIES (1 each) were seen in Cape May Point on August 18 and in CMBO's gardens in Goshen on August 19. CMBO's Gardens in Goshen held HORACE'S DUSKYWING, SWARTHY, LEAST, TAWNY-EDGED, LITTLE GLASSYWING, SACHEM, ZABULON (#s), AARON'S (#s), BROAD-WINGED (#s), and SALTMARSH SKIPPERS on August 19. HACKBERRY EMPERORS were in a backyard garden in Goshen on August 18. Every Wednesday (10 a.m. to Noon) Pat Sutton leads a "Butterfly Walk at Cape May Point," meeting at the Pavilion Circle Gardens. Every Thursday (10 a.m. to Noon) Pat Sutton leads a "Butterfly Walk in the Goshen Gardens" at CMBO (600 Rt. 47 N). Beginning Sunday, September 5, Louise Zemaitis will lead a "Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk" every Sunday (10 a.m. to Noon), meeting at the Pavilion Circle Gardens in Cape May Point.

On Friday, September 10, gardens in and near Cape May and Cape May Point will be featured on CMBO's "Tour of Private Butterfly Gardens," and on Saturday, September 11, gardens from the Villas north to Woodbine will be featured. A few spaces remain on each tour. Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register.

A terrific selection of hard to find hummingbird, butterfly & general wildlife plants (including BONESET, JOE-PYE-WEED, MOUNTAIN MINT, CORAL HONEYSUCKLE, TRUMPET CREEPER, COMMON MILKWEED, and DWARF HACKBERRY) are on sale at CMBO's center in Goshen. Selection changes weekly, so stop by often! The current selection is posted on the "Backyard Habitat" pages on NJ Audubon's website. CMBO invites gardeners (no experience necessary) to help maintain CMBO's wildlife gardens at the Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North). Join Karen Williams Fridays, 9:30 a.m. to noon, for a weekly "Garden Maintenance Workshop," where you work in the CMBO gardens while learning from Karen about gardening for wildlife.

Enjoy early fall migrants and lingering summer birds by joining one of CMBO scheduled walks with local experts, including walks already mentioned and these additional walks : (1) every Monday, "Mondays at The Meadows" meets at 7:30 a.m. at TNC's refuge parking lot on Sunset Boulevard, (2) every Tuesday (6:00 p.m. till dusk) the "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point" walk (with CMBO naturalists who know the area intimately) is a great way to enjoy this unique area (meet in the Stone Harbor Point parking lot at the south end of Stone Harbor), (3) every Wednesday, "Birding Cape May Point" meets at 7:30 a.m. in the "South Shelter" raised pavilion at the Cape May Point State Park, (4) every Thursday, "Hidden Valley Bird Walk" meets at 7:00 a.m. in the small clamshell parking lot on the south side of New England Road, (5) every Friday, "Higbee Beach Bird Walk" meets in the parking lot at the end of New England Road at 7:00 p.m., (6) every Friday, "Sunset Birding at the Meadows" meets at TNC's refuge parking lot on Sunset Boulevard at 5:30 p.m., (7) every Saturday, "Fall Migrants at the Rea Farm" meets at 7:00 a.m. in the parking lot on Bayshore Road (not at the Rea Farm produce stand on Stevens Street), and (8) if you're a beginner, join Judy Lukens Sunday, August 22, for "Birding for First Timers" (2-4 p.m.), meeting on the Wildlife Viewing Platform in Cape May Point State Park.

The Cape May Bird Observatory offers hundreds of programs ... many more than those briefly mentioned here. CMBO's FALL (September-November 2004) Program Schedule (and a link to the remaining SUMMER: August programs) is posted on NJ Audubon's web site (and available at either center or request a copy by calling 609-861-0700): http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

A beautiful exhibit, "Birds of the Seashore" by prominent North American bird artists, is now on display at CMBO's Center in Goshen, Open Daily: 9-4:30 (except Mon. & Tues). Stop by and be dazzled.

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!

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